A guide to assist you and understand your gardening problems compliments of Wally Richards.

DISCLAIMER: Gardening information and articles found in these pages are written by Wally Richards (Gardening Columnist)
They are compiled from his own experiences gardening and information gathered from other gardeners over the years.
The articles may mention uses of gardening products that may or may not be registered for the purposes mentioned.
They are supplied for you to make your own personal judgements on their validity.
Wally Richards
If you have ideas that will also help other gardeners in their endeavors, please relay them to the writer.

Safe spraying program for roses and other plants
Safe or Sorry? About Roundup
About Genetic food crops (Roundup Ready)

Threip control on Rhododendrons
White Fringed Weevil
Gladioli Thrips
Carrot Fly
Passionvine Leaf Hoppers
White Butterfly
Grass Grubs
Damping Off Diseases
Dieback and Canker Diseases
New Lawn (How to)
Citrus tree problems and solutions
Your Health and Your Plant's Health
Gardeners, years ago didnt have to spray their gardens. Here is the answer as to why?
The importance of plants roots
The advantages of chooks and gardening
All about the advantages of Gypsum


Several readers have asked for me to repeat the safe spray program that I wrote about last year.
The program uses organic and safe to use sprays as opposed to chemical sprays, which often have little effect and in some cases make the roses less healthy, than if you had not used them. To understand how the program works lets consider a rose bed that has for a number of years been sprayed with chemicals and had chemical fertilisers used to feed the roses.
The soil in the bed will be suffering and normal soil life, micro-organisms and beneficial fungi will be at a low ebb, earth worms will either be absent or in such low numbers, not to be effective. The roses themselves will likely be suffering from diseases such as black spot and downy mildew and likely have reoccurring attacks from insect pests.
Now what we want to do is restore the soil life, increase the worm populations and while this is happening, restore the health of the roses.
Before we explain the safe spray program lets get the soil heading in the right direction.
First drench the soil with Mycorrcin Plus which feeds the soil life. If you have few worms then either introduce some from another area or buy a bag of worms. Place the worms in holes over the area and cover the bed with several thickness of wet newspaper. Cover the paper with an organic compost up to a couple of inches thick. You can also incorporate other organic foods such as blood & bone, sheep manure pellets and Break Through (Slow Release Organic Granules) Drench once again with Mycorrcin Plus.
The sprays to then use are, Perkfection for Roses and other plants mixed at 5ml per litre and applied once a month till the roses are finished in Autumn. This spray will build up the rose's natural immune system against diseases.
Neem Tree Oil can be applied once or twice a month for the control of insect pests. If you have a pest problem then a weekly spray can be used till they are under control.
Mycorrcin Plus can be sprayed also added to either the above sprays.
Don't use any chemical sprays or fertilisers while doing this program or you will be undoing the program. For feeding the roses just use sheep manure pellets, blood & bone, organic compost and Break Through.
Do not use any herbicides anywhere near the roses either, instead weed by hand or use an organic weed control spray such as Interceptor.
Do the above and I would be surprised if you did not find a great improvement to your roses this season. I would suggest that you continue with the same program next season.
After that you likely only have to continue with the compost and organic foods, a spray of Perkfection in the spring and autumn. Neem Oil spray once a month unless there is an insect problem. An occasional soil drench and spray with Mycorrcin Plus. By then your roses are likely to be possible winners at rose shows. Note this same treatment can be used for any other plants or garden areas.


A couple of months ago I wrote an article about 'Glyphosate' the chemical that is used in the most popular weed killers these days. The article mentioned that the chemical had been found to affect soil life and worms and that the soil active life of the product was a lot longer than had been originally thought.
After publication, a representative from 'Monsanto' the original manufacturer of Glyphosate, their trade name product, Roundup, contacted me and queried me on my sources.
I was asked if I could be sent a Monsanto's information sheet and write a further article to 'balance the scales'. I agreed to this and was happy to put Monsanto's information into an article.
While waiting for their publication to arrive I decided to do a little further research myself and so to the Internet. I put 'glyphosate' into a search engine on my Micosoft Explorer and up came untold sites.
A number of sites were for the chemical but a number of sites gave information that gave me concerns, in fact some of the things that I read promoted me to write this article in the manner that you shall see.
One site I found summed up a lot of other sites into an informative paper. It is
and you take the glyphosate link to the acrobat reader to download the following at,
The pdf document called "Herbicide Factsheet, Glyphosate (Roundup)" gives information on the chemical and all the 'References' to the publications where the information sources are.
I would suggest that the reader download this document and look at some of the other sites that are available on the subject. From the 'Factsheet' I found the following and my reference is the above publication and its references.

"Glyphosate is a broad-spectrum herbicide widely used to kill unwanted plants both in agriculture and in nonagricultural landscapes. Estimated use in the U.S. is between 38 and 48 million pounds per year.
Most glyphosate-containing products are either made or used with a surfactant, chemicals that help glyphosate to penetrate plant cells.
Glyphosate-containing products are acutely toxic to animals, including humans. Symptoms include eye and skin irritation, headache, nausea, numbness, elevated blood pressure, and heart palpitations. The surfactant used in a common glyphosate product (Roundup) is more acutely toxic than glyphosate itself; the combination of the two is yet more toxic.
Given the marketing of glyphosate herbicides as benign, it is striking that laboratory studies have found adverse effects in all standard categories of laboratory toxicology testing. These include medium-term toxicity (salivary gland lesions), long-term toxicity (inflamed stomach linings), genetic damage (in human blood cells), effects on reproduction (reduced sperm counts in rats; increased frequency of abnormal sperm in rabbits), and carcinogenicity (increased frequency of liver tumors in male rats and thyroid cancer in female rats).
In studies of people (mostly farmers) exposed to glyphosate herbicides, exposure is associated with an increased risk of miscarriages, premature birth, and the cancer non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Glyphosate has been called "extremely persistent" by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and half lives of over 100 days have been measured in field tests in Iowa and New York. Glyphosate has been found in streams following agricultural, urban, and forestry applications.
Glyphosate treatment has reduced populations of beneficial insects, birds, and small mammals by destroying vegetation on which they depend for food and shelter.
In laboratory tests, glyphosate increased plants' susceptibility to disease and reduced the growth of nitrogen-fixing bacteria."
"In California, the state with the most comprehensive program for reporting of pesticide-caused illness, glyphosate-containing herbicides were the third most commonly reported cause of pesticide illness among agricultural workers"
"Earthworms: A study of the most common earthworm found in agricultural soils in New Zealand showed that repeated applications of glyphosate significantly affect growth and survival of earthworms. Biweekly applications of low rates of glyphosate, (one twentieth of typical rates) caused a reduction in growth, and increase in time to maturity and an increase in mortality"
"Mycorrhizal fungi are beneficial fungi that live in and around plants roots. They help plants absorb nutrients and water and can protect them from cold and drought.
Roundup is toxic to Mycorrhizal fungi in laboratory studies. Effects on some species associated with conifers have been observed at concentrations of 1 part per million (ppm), lower than those found in soil following typical applications."
"Plant Diseases: Glyphosate treatment increases the susceptibility of crop plants to a number of diseases. For example, glyphosate increased the susceptibility of tomatoes to crown and root disease."
Further reading, you can write to "Soil and Health Assn" Box 36170 Northcote Auckland and send $3.00 asking for their "Roundup Information Summary"
In the sheets you will find, Quote, "Dr Ricky Gorringe of Hamilton estimates, based on cases presenting to his clinic, that probably 1 in 20 New Zealanders are sensitive to Roundup. Dr Gorringe has observed that the most commonly occurring symptoms as unnatural fatigue, a band-like headache, a strange 'spaced out' feeling with loss of confidence, a skin rash, and an otherwise unexplained sudden increase in blood pressure."
Elsewhere I read of a trial where an area was sprayed with glyphosate and one month later lettuces were planted. Three months later the lettuces were cropped and found to contain glyphosate. As glyphosate is the most commonly used weed killer in horticulture it would pertain that much of the produce that we consume contains the chemical. It makes one wonder.
I submitted the above to Monsanto for their comments and here is the reply;
Monsanto: "Glyphosate is arguably the most studied molecule in the history of agriculture. Regulatory agencies around the world who reviewed the toxicology of glyphosate on several occasions over its 25-year history have concluded that glyphosate is NOT mutagenic nor carcinogenic (see US EPA's Re-registration Eligibility Decision, September 1993, World Health Organisation's Environmental Criteria 159, 1994, and the EU's ECCo peer review 1999.) In addition, two definitive textbooks written on the molecule and glyphosate has been the subject of thousands of independent scientific studies.
Human/animal toxicity
Glyphosate kills plants by interrupting an essential plant nutrient pathway - a pathway that is only present in green plants. Various studies reported in the literature describe the effects observed after accidental and intentional ingestion of Roundup® herbicide. Accidental exposure results in, at most, only mild effects.
A recent independent study of glyphosate (Williams et al., 2000) reviewed glyphosate and potential mutagenicity. Their conclusions were:
q Multiple lifetime feeding studies have failed to demonstrate any tumorgenic potential for glyphosate. Accordingly, it has been concluded that glyphosate is noncarcinogenic.
q No effects on fertility or reproductive parameters in multigenerational reproduction studies with glyphosate.
q Likewise there were no adverse effects in reproductive tissues from animals treated with glyphosate, AMPA, or POEA in chronic and/or subchronic studies.
q Williams et al. (2000) concluded that the use of Roundup herbicide does not result in adverse effects on development, reproduction, or endocrine systems in humans and other mammals.
Soil-borne Organisms
Interestingly cultivation, a common farming practice, kills more earthworms and beneficial insects than any other practice. Farmers adopting no-tillage through the use of Roundup to control competing vegetation are measuring increases in earthworm populations compared with the practices of old!
An international review panel rejected the New Zealand earthworm study mentioned by Mr Richards, as it did not meet the criteria for concluding glyphosate effects on earthworms. In this study only 6 worms per treatment were used and the variability among worms and treatments was not thoroughly characterised to satisfy the rigorous demands of the expert panel.
A recent study has been completed investigating chronic effects of glyphosate on earthworms. No effects on growth, survival or reproduction were observed after 56 days of exposure to very high concentrations.
Nitrogen-fixing bacteria
Numerous field studies have confirmed that application of glyphosate and Roundup® herbicide at label-recommended rates does not have long-term negative effects on mycorrhizae, actinomycetes, or bacteria, nitrification, dehydrogenase activity, or decomposition.
Roundup® herbicide and its active ingredient glyphosate have been extensively investigated in ecological toxicity studies to support registrations in over 160 countries. This significant body of scientific evidence, over 1,000 studies during the past 25 years has demonstrated the favourable environmental health and safety profile of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup® herbicide. These regulatory agencies and scientific institutions worldwide have concluded that there is no indication of any human health concern.
In New Zealand, the Pesticides Board are responsible for the regulatory approval of herbicides. Roundup® herbicide has been registered for use in New Zealand for over 20 years." ooooo
My comment: You be the judge!


Genetics has been in and out of the news over recent times with two sides fighting for and against Genetic use in New Zealand. Many of us are unsure about the subject and through lack of understanding we tend to take a neutral stance.
I believe that there is some applications that genetic engineering can be used to the benefit of the human race but there are other areas that appear to be profit originated without too much other concern for consequences either in the short or long term. I received copies of GE Digest recently (the digests are compiled to disseminate information about genetic engineering biotechnology and related subjects.)
I found some interesting aspects from the digests that I would like to share with you. My reference is the stated publication and its references.

Transgenic Soybeans

"It took Monsanto nine years to create a soybean that survived applications of Roundup. Finally, a 100 seedlings spliced with DNA from soil bacteria, a cauliflower virus and a petunia plant, were spray-tested. All survived.
Transgenic soybeans have now been grown commercially for five years. The 2001 plantings were 68% of the national acreage. In the USA, transgenic soy is in foods from baby formulas to margarine, ice cream to muesli bars; in around 70% of processed foods.
Transgenic soy, corn, canola and cotton-seed oil entered the food chain so quickly most processors did not know. When European buyers of US soy protested, US processors began investigating safety. The Director of Scientific Policy for the Grocery Manufacturers of America said: "We really learned after the fact."
Dan Glickman, former US Agriculture Secretary, says transgenic products, such as RoundupReady® (RR®) beans, have not received objective scrutiny, industry has been allowed to take the lead and regulators have largely ceded their watchdog role. "Regulators even viewed themselves as cheer-leaders for biotechnology. It was viewed as science marching forward, and anyone who wasn't marching forward was a Luddite."
Physicians in Britain, the US and Canada became concerned when allergies to soy increased 50 per cent after transgenic soy was introduced into foods. The York Nutritional Laboratory confirmed this rise in 1999. It was the first time in 17 years soy was in the top ten foods to cause allergic reactions. In 2000, Irish doctors reported the same increase. (NB: Reports suggest 20-25 percent of people suffer allergic reactions to foods and other substances. An allergy is a body's response to an allergic substance. It may be immediate or delayed. It may be worsened by an impaired immune system with a pathological response that can range from hives to anaphylactic death.
Monsanto says its simplicity sells the RR® system. RR® soy allows a farmer to spray Roundup herbicide over the growing beans, killing most weeds, but leaving the transgenic soybeans unharmed." In an earlier article I wrote on glyphosate, quoted laboratory tests on mice, rats etc showed kidney, liver problems as well as reproduction complications on the tested subjects.
Also that Dr Gorringe of Hamilton, NZ estimates that approximately 1 in 20 New Zealanders might be sensitive to Roundup.
Now one does not have to have much between ones ears to work out that a Roundup Ready food crop that is sprayed during the term of its growth with glyphosate will take into itself more glyphosate than one that cant be sprayed with glyphosate while its growing. Quote, "Dr Benbrook says that, contrary to Monsanto's claims, field data provided by the USDA also clearly shows, "Total herbicide use on RR® soybeans in 1998 was greater on average than conventional varieties in six states" and higher overall in 10 of the 16 states surveyed.
Dr Benbrook warns that by the time industry acknowledges the problem of herbicide-resistant weeds, glyphosate-resistant genes will be irretrievable, that we cannot "put the genie back in the bottle." He is concerned that Monsanto is not addressing the question of resistance. "American agriculture is really at risk with all the disinformation perpetuated by the biotech industry."
The Farmers Weekly (US, 4 May 2001) reports nearly 70% of US soy bean value now comes from government subsidies, that (a) these have created a 25 per cent increase in soy planting in the US since 1998 and (b) a consequent collapse in world oilseed prices, and (c) an artificial domestic and international market for US soy, the world's largest source of transgenic food and animal feed, and that (d) the subsidy has artificially promoted transgenic production at the expense of conventional oilseeds grown elsewhere where no similar levels of subsidy exist. The question has been raised, for whose benefit is this?
Brazil's exports of non-GE soybeans to Europe rose from 10,135 million tonnes in 1996 to 15,130 million tonnes in 1998, a 50 per cent increase, while US soy exports to Europe dropped from 8.854 to 6.572 million tonnes. From 1995 to 2000, the US lost 14.3% of its share of the export soy market, while Brazil's share climbed 10.7% because it could supply conventional soybeans.
In the European Union (EU), nearly 50 percent of imported soy meal comes from regions where RR® soy plantings are prohibited; 44 percent from Brazil alone. A significant amount goes into animal feed. Demand for meat and meat products, produced from animals fed on feed free of transgenic DNA, grew from almost zero to 20-25 percent in only 12 months. In 1987, the US Environmental Protection Agency increased the allowable pesticide residues in soy in animal feed from 6ppm to 20ppm for Roundup (glyphosate). No tolerance level is set for meat. Animal products may have residues."
Here is another interesting aspect; Farmers and transgenic crops " A few years ago, Canadian farmer, Percy Schmeiser found GE canola growing on his farm. Sued by Monsanto, Percy now faces a court order to pay around $85,000 in royalties and fines for a crop he had no intention of planting.
In an effort to eradicate the canola, Percy sprayed the volunteers with a "horrid" mix of chemicals. Photographs showed the canola survived.
NZ Green Party co-leader, Jeanette Fitzsimons, said: "The judge has ruled that, under the international law of patents, if somebody contaminates your seeds you are liable ... This decision forces farmers to keep going back to multinational seed companies year after year to buy their seed."
"Above all this decision should sound very loud warning bells for NZ farmers." The transgenic canola was the same crop Monsanto planned to release in NZ in 1999."
It all makes one wonder!
I forwarded this article to Monsanto and here is their response… During the last six years a number of transgenic crops have been commercialized around the world, predominantly in North America. This has been the fastest uptake of any new agricultural technology by growers we have witnessed with over 50 million hectares being planted in 2001. Farmers are gaining significant benefits from these crops including reduced costs, greater net income, better yields and quality as well as a reduction in the overall use of pesticides particularly insecticides, a clear benefit to the environment.
Before these new crops are commercialised they are subjected to rigorous testing for health, safety and environmental reasons. The products from these crops are now widely used in many food processing systems as well as whole foods and have clearly been shown to be as safe as the same products of conventional crops.
Despite these assurances from the regulators a number of questions continue to be raised by those opposing the technology some of which are posed in your article and my response is as follows;
1. Roundup Ready soybeans and allergens
It would appear that this article is trying to suggest that there is a link between Roundup Ready soy and allergens. Historically soybeans are considered to be in the top 8 foods responsible for allergies. Testing for allergenicity is one of the many rigorous procedures which must be undertaken for all products from GM crops before they are approved for commercial release and subsequently for human consumption. All the testing on Roundup Ready soybeans clearly showed there was no difference in allergenic potential between conventional soybeans and those with the herbicide tolerance gene.
There has not been a single documented case of any illness as a result of eating GM foods in the six years since their commercialisation. Allergic reactions to soybeans have been reported in the literature for more than 25 years and the York study merely shows consistency with these findings.
It has been suggested that these allergenic increases attributed to soy consumption in Britain may be linked to a change of consumer diet from dairy products to soy products.
2. Safety of Roundup herbicide
As earlier response to these allegations on Roundup have clearly shown the safety of Roundup herbicide has been extensively examined for 25 years by a wide range of International organisations all concluding the product should be ranked in the most favourable category possible for pesticides, Category E, which concludes evidence of non-carcenogenicity to humans.
With respect to spraying crops with Roundup the regulations and Product label allow for only 1-2 sprays to be applied early in the growth phase.
All residue studies carried out on the subsequent plants and grain products have clearly shown any detectable residues to be well below the Maximum Residue Limits permitted by law.
3. Roundup usage and herbicide resistance
Dr Benbrook has made several claims of this nature on his US website and these have been challenged by representatives of the USDA themselves who report the use of selected and non- statistical data to support these claims.
A more recent (2001) study by Dutch researchers has shown a 10% reduction in overall herbicide usage by farmers using Roundup Ready soybeans. Perhaps of more significance than the amount of herbicides being used is the type of product now being sprayed. The widespread use of Roundup replaces many applications of soil residual herbicides which have known detrimental environmental features.
In over 25 years of continued widespread use in global agriculture only 3 published incidents of resistance to Roundup have been shown. The mode of action of this herbicide is unique and further resistance findings are expected to be rare despite the growing of Roundup Ready crops. Monsanto takes great care with the introduction of these new technologies to ensure the sustainability of the products. Farmers must adhere to strict herbicide usage procedures to ensure Roundup is not overused on a field in any one or subsequent years.
4. Schmeiser
In the Schmeiser case the Judge found against the farmer because he was shown quite clearly to have knowingly grown Roundup Ready canola on 900 acres of land without having paid a licence fee to Monsanto. The court rejected his claim that his canola was fertilised by pollen blown in from neighbouring fields.
All legitimate growers of Monsanto's Roundup Ready crops sign an agreement with the company stating they will not save the seed from this crop for future planting. It is the farmer's choice to but this technology from Monsanto or choose conventional seed as both are available for each specific variety.
5. Roundup Ready canola in New Zealand
Monsanto at no stage planned any commercial canola release in New Zealand. In 1999 there was initial planning to conduct an out of season trial as a seed increase for the Northern Hemisphere plantings.
END. ooooo

Thrips are small insects which feed by first rasping the plant tissues then sucking up the exuded sap. This results in a typical silvery flecked appearance to the damaged parts and sometimes a distortion of the foliage also.
There are several types in New Zealand and we will look at four of the more common ones.
Onion Thrips; (Thrips tabaci) attack onion, potato, pea, tomato, cabbage, cucumber and other garden plants. They are bad news on onions and can transmit spotted wilt disease in tomatoes.
The adults are minute slender yellowish-brown about 1.0 to 1.5mm in length. Females with two pairs of wings fringed with prominent hairs. Males are rare and wingless. Females reproduce parthenogenetically.
Nymphs are similar to adults, smaller and without wings being either light yellow to colourless.
Life cycle is several generations per year with a complete life cycle being about 6 weeks dependent on weather. Greenhouse Thrips; (Heliothrips haemorrhoidalis) attack citrus, feijoa, guava, rhododendron, azalea, cyclamen and many other plants.
Adults are 1.5 to 2.5mm in length with a black body, antennae, legs and wings are very light in colour. Nymphs are similar to adults but smaller, without wings and paler in colour.
Life cycle is 3 to 5 weeks and several generations every year.
Gladiolus Thrips; (Thrips simplex) attack gladiolus, freesia, iris and lillies.
Foliage and flowers are damaged with silvery specks and often distorted.
Adults are 1.0 to 1.5mm in length, dark brown to black in colour except for a basal portion of antenna which is white. Nymphs are similar to adults but smaller, yellowish in colour without wings. Life cycle is 3 to 4 weeks and breeding will take place on corms if the temperature is above 16 degrees C.
Bottlebrush Thrips; (Teucothrips-sp) attack bottlebrushes (Callistemon) making the leaves on new shoots twisted., rolled and very brittle. The leaves then take on a deep red colour with thrips being found in the rolled leaves.
Adults are slender up to 2.0mm in length, jet black and shiny. Breeding is continuos and there are several generations every year.
Thrips as you can see as likely to be in your garden on any of the plants mentioned. You may not notice them as they are very small and its not till such time as their populations build up that damage is more readily seen.
Thrips need to be controlled before they do too much damage and there are several ways of doing this.
Sprays of Conqueror oil will smoother them, chemicals such as Maldison will kill them and a safe, effective spray to use is Neem Tree Oil. If left without controlling they will spread through a garden doing damage to all their host plants.


Thrips on Rhododendrons can be a real troublesome pest and the damage they do to the foliage (silver colour from leaf tissue damage) makes the plant unattractive when compared to a Rhododendron that has undamaged, dark glossy leaves.
The thrips not only upset the appearance but the damaged leaves are not able to gain needed energy from sunlight so the health, growth and flowering of the plant can be affected also.
Thrips are not hard to kill but one of the problems is that many Rhododendrons are very tall and difficult to spray. Even worse if you are using a chemical spray, you have all this spray drifting back down on yourself as you are spraying.
Now the owner of Cross Hills Rhododendrons has come up with a simple solution to the problem that does not require any spraying. He has developed a special felt strip that has been waterproofed on one side with plastic film.
The strip is wrapped around the trunk of the Rhododendron and pinned in place after soaking the strip in Orthene. (Chemical spray) It is best done in October or November and one treatment appears to last for a year. The reason for these months, to apply, is because there is good growth and hence the chemical is carried quickly over the whole tree with the sap movement.
I have also heard from a reader that the same excellent results have occurred using the safer Neem Tree Oil. Either way, the impregnated strips, should control any other sucking insects such as scale insects.
The program works well on Rhododendrons because of the type of bark on the trunk. It may work on some other types of trees also, but do not use the chemical on any fruiting trees or trees while in flower while been visited by bees.
The bands are re-usable. Available at some garden centres or from Cross Hills Gardens 06 3285797.

The Passionvine Hopper (Scolypopa australis) attacks passion fruit vines, kiwifruit, pumpkin, citrus, beans, flax, ferns and many other plants.
They are also feed on tutu (Coriaria arborea Linsay). When they feed on tutu’s sap a poison from the plant is released into the honeydew; honey bees collect this and the honey produced is from this is highly poisonous to humans. Honey poisonings have been traced to this in NZ.
The Passion Fruit Hopper are sucking insects which can cause shrivelling and distorting of the fruit. Sooty mould is another noticeable aspect that will let you know that your plants have this problem. Most sucking insects excrete honey dew which causes sooty mould.
The major damage occurs to passion fruit and kiwi fruit and is one of the reasons why passion fruit vines fail prematurely.
The bugs are found all over the North Island and some parts of the South Island.
The adults are about 1 cm in length with transparent wings, speckled with small, brown opaque areas.
Wings are held out to each side at rest, giving the insect a triangular appearance from above. Body greyish-blue in colour. When disturbed they jump. The Nymphs are dark pinkish colour, wingless with a conspicuous large white tuft at hind end. They also jump similarly to the adults when disturbed.
The winter is passed in the egg stage. The Nymphs emerge between October and December and take nearly 3 months to pass through 5 nymphal instars.
They feed on succulent shoots near the stem growing tips. Adults are present from late December-May. They are a difficult pest to control as repeated sprayings with a systemic insecticide is needed while the nymphs are developing to adults.
One gardener contacted me recently and told me that he had used Neem Oil on his passion fruit vine and for the first time every, he had found an effective control after years of battling this pest.
So folks another plus for the safe to use Neem Tree Oil.
I would suggest that if you have a passion fruit vine that you check it for the hoppers and if noticed spray with Neem and repeat again 14 days later. Repeat when noticed. If you do not notice any hoppers on your vine that a monthly spray with Neem oil would not go amiss to ensure that the pests don’t get established.
There are other types of leaf hoppers and these will be looked at in the future.
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Whitefly (Trialeurodes vaporariorum) attack the following plants, tomato, cucumber, begonia, geranium, ferns, hibiscus, cineraria, chrysanthemum and many others as the home gardener is well aware.
You notice small 1-2mm chalk-white, flies on the undersides of infested leaves when disturbed take to the air in a choking cloud.
Whitefly are sucking insects and when they become numerous on a plant they can cause yellowing, wilting and stunted growth. Sooty mould is another by-product of their feeding. Under glass, whitefly become a major problem.
The Nymphs are flat and scale-like, almost transparent and except for the first instar (crawler) they remain fixed in one position on the undersides of leaves. Eggs hatch in about 14 days and then there are 4 nympal stages over about 4 weeks. The populations overlap and all stages are likely to be present at one time.
Whitefly have developed resistance to many common chemical pesticides and this is a major reason why these products do not work well for control. Neem Oil was originally brought into New Zealand for the control of Whitefly by Suntec in their glasshouse nurseries.
It was found after a number of scientific tests that Neem Oil was 50% more effective for control than the chemical controls available at the time.
Repeat sprayings are needed, and for bad infestations spray every 3 to 5 days for 4 or 5 times. For continued control a spray every 7-10 days should be about right.
Use the Neem Tree Oil with Raingard and spray all the foliage till the point of run off. You will not notice any great change in numbers for about a week or so then the populations will start to disappear.
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(Graphognathus leucoloma) The White Fringed Weevil attacks almost all plants but damage can be particularly noticed on Lucerne, peas, pumpkins, potatoes, tomatoes, brassicas, wheat, vines and forest tree seedlings.
The larvae feed on the roots of the plants which weaken, wilt and eventually kill the plants. The larvae prefer the tap root of some plants such as Lucerne and they can completely sever the root causing rapid death of the plant.
Holes are eaten into potato tubers. The white fringed weevil is regarded as a very serious pest. Until the early 1960’s the weevil was only in the North Island where it is now generally distributed. It is now known to occur in two South Island areas being Nelson and mid-Canterbury and it will likely spread to other areas in time.
The Adult weevils are greyish with hard bodies about 8-12mm in length. They are wingless (the wing cases are sealed down the mid-line) and all adults are females. There is a whitish band along the outer edge of each wing case and its from this, the weevil derives its common name.
The larvae are creamy white, soft bodied and legless. Reaching about 15mm in length when fully grown with the head being light in colour and tends to be retracted into the soft body. The mandibiles are black. They are normally found in the root zone of the upper soil levels.
Adults are found from about December until April with the peak time in January and February. Adults live for several months and may lay several hundred eggs each over a long period of time. Eggs hatch in the autumn and the resulting larvae takes about 18 months to mature giving a total life cycle of about 2 years. Some eggs may hatch earlier in summer which means larvae of various sizes maybe found at the same time.
The larvae are extremely tolerant to most insecticides but the adults are less so.
White fringed weevils do not persist in land that is regularly cultivated and this is the main control used commercially. Weekly rotary hoeing for 3 weeks in spring or early summer, followed by a cereal crop greatly reduces the problem. The home gardener may not be aware of the problem and plant loses or damage maybe thought to be from another pest. Outside of rotary hoeing as suggested the only other possibility for control would likely be Neem Oil or better still Neem Pellets.
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Thrips - (there is no such thing as a single thrip) -- are a menace this month
to gladioli, and gardeners who leave their gladioli in the ground year after year risk them reverting to common reds and whites.
Thrips are soil insects which also attack foliage above ground in spring and summer. But in the soil they attack gladioli corms.
Weakened corms may fail to grow next spring, but the tougher reds and whites can survive, though the display may be poor.
Spray your Gladioli every 7 days with Neem Oil and place a few Neem Pellets around the base of the plant to help control the pests in the soil.
When the season is over, lift corms, discarding the dead growth, saving the new one and the tiny cormlets.
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Carrot rust fly,
The carrot fly (Psila rosae) attacks carrots, parsnip, celery, parsley and umbelliferous weeds or herbs such as fennel, dill and angelica.
Attacked plants wilt and may die if the plants are small.
The tap root is damaged by small white maggots burrowing in from the outside.
On older roots damage is seen as rust-coloured burrows at and near the surface.
Rot producing bacteria and fungi may gain access through these damaged areas.
It is interesting to note that the pest covers all the North Island and much of the South Island but is not a problem at Ohakune the leading carrot growing district.
The life cycle starts as a larvae wintering over in winter in roots or as pupae in the soil.
The Larva is a white legless maggot, tapering towards the fore end, without a distinct head, growing to about 8 mm.
Adults are a small shiny black fly with a brownish head, yellowish legs and iridescent wings about 8 mm in length.
These emerge in September-October and lay their eggs after a few days.
Eggs hatch in 8 to 10 days and the larvae take 4 to 6 weeks to mature.
The pupal stage lasts for 3-4 weeks and a second generation appears about December with a third in February and maybe a final one in May.
Remembering that other than carrots may harbour the pests, one can sterilise the soil in winter with Basamid to kill the pupae.
When planting out carrot seeds you can use Neem Pellets for organic control and also a plastic sheet screen one metre tall around the crop prevents the adults from reaching the crop.
Chemical controls are Diazinon in either granule or liquid form.
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White butterfly.
White butterflies (artogeia rapae) as we well know attack brassicas of all kinds and no other plants.
The caterpillars chew out large sections of the leaves, frequently leaving only ribs.
Excreta pellets are noticed in leaf crevices etc. The white butterfly are a major pest in NZ.
The adult is a butterfly with creamy white wings marked with a black wing span of about 5cm. Larvae become fully grown caterpillars about 2.5cm in length, dull velvety green in colour with a thin orange strip down the back.
They over winter as pupae. Eggs take 8-10 days to hatch and the larvae mature in 3-6 weeks. In summer the pupal stage lasts 2-3 weeks.
There are normally 3 to 4 generations per year.
In a good summer in some parts of the country there reach massive population numbers.
They have natural predators as parasites of the larval (apanteles glomeratus) and pupal (Pteromalus puparum).
There is also a virus disease later in the season that assists in natural control.
There are a great number of chemicals that can be used for control.
Organically Derris Dust has been the traditional control and now days we also have Neem Tree Oil.
Either of these are the preferred controls for food crops as there is no withholding periods.
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Wireworms is the common name given to the larva of beetles belonging to the family Elateridae.
The adult beetles are referred to as click beetles.
But only the wireworm (larvae) do any damage and they will attack all plants with the worse to be affected being, potatoes, wheat, maize, brassicas and root vegetables in the home garden.
The damage occurs to newly planted seedlings which often wilt and die after been attacked.
Ragged holes eaten at the base of plants, below ground level and roots chewed.
Often fungal and bacterial rots gain access through the damaged tissue.
The adults are small brown or black beetles, rather elongate in shape and somewhat flattened.
Known as click beetles as they have a habit of springing into the air if disturbed, and if they fall on their backs, by a sudden flexing of the body they produce a clicking sound.
The larvae (wireworms) are elongate cylindrical or flattened insects with three pairs of small legs close to the fore end.
The body is staw to pale brown in colour, shiny and tough. They reach a length of 1.5 to 3 cm dependant on species.
They are often found with their head end buried in damaged root tissue.
Eggs are laid in the soil, usually in pasture. The young wireworms spend at least a year in the soil before they mature and ready to pupate.
They are a natural predator of the Australian soldier fly larvae so they are beneficial as well as harmful.
If you have problems with wireworm damaging crops then sprinkle Neem Pellets in rows at sowing the seed, or planting out times.
Alternative chemical controls would be Soil Insect Killer from Yates.
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Grass grubs have devastated many lawns through out the country and unseasonal damage was noticed in the early autumn. This was brought about by two factors, firstly the grubs did not stop their activities last winter in many areas due to the warmer winter. Thus we saw several generations of grubs active right through winter, spring and summer. The second aspect was the drought conditions that affected many areas in summer/autumn. The grass, who's roots had been reduced by the grubs, were unable to obtain sufficient moisture, causing the grasses to die.
Under normal conditions the grubs are most active and closer to the surface during the months of May to September.
It is these mature grubs that cause the most damage to the root systems. These same grubs begin pupation in late august or September.
The beetles are heavy bodied, roundish beetles, light brown in colour and about 1cm in length. They emerge from the soil at dusk on spring evenings from late October through to December) and fly for about 15-20 minuets before settling on plants to mate and feed. (This is when many ornamentals such as shrubs and roses are damaged as they eat the leaves)
They live for about 4-5 weeks and during this time the female will lay several batches of eggs usually near the area that she emerged from originally. The eggs hatch in 16 to 21 days. The first Instar larval stage lasts about 4-5 weeks with the grubs being about 6mm in length. The second Instar lasts 5-10 weeks . The third instar larvae are present from about March to September. We used to effectively control the grubs with DDT and Lindane but these chemicals were removed because of the long term residues to the soil and waterways.
Organo-phosphate insecticides such as diazinon maybe used but require careful attention to application and conditions for best results. For instance Diazinon 20G (200g/Kg diazinon) Is applied at 11Kg/ha to low cut grass when the soil is moist and followed by 13mm of rain within 7-10 days. Applied between February and April but less effective on heavy/clay and high organic soils. Diazinon 50wp (500g/kg diazinon) is not registered for control of Grass Grubs. Diazinon 800 (800g/litre diazinon and 100g/litre xylene) Is used at the rate of 3 lites in 200 litres of water applied February -April to short cut grass when the soil is moist. Best applied during falling rain and must be followed by 13mm of rain within 7-10 days of application.
Do not apply to clay or peaty soils. (Information from Novachem Manual 2000/2001)
The above are commercial products and available to the home gardener we have 50g/Kg diazinon which if compared to the commercial products is a weaker product. Even the commercial products are known not to be very effective and if you have a heavy or clay soil you are wasting your time.
I get annoyed at a lot of misinformation about products that have little if any control of grass grubs and lead only in the consumer wasting both their time and money, year after year.
I used to recommend Thiodan as a control but this too is a commercial product and even though it is not registered for control of grass grubs it is very cost effective. (It is also a top shelf chemical and users most heed the precautions when using these toxic substances)


Over the last couple of years, the problem with grass grubs in lawns has become extreme.
There is a good reason for this as a couple of years back we did for a change, have two mild winters in a row. This allowed grass grubs to continue on through the winter months. Thus instead of having one or two generations in the lawn at any one time, we now appear to have several overlapping generations.
Thus instead of seeing a pattern of damage appearing in mid-spring and into the summer months, we now are finding damage appearing just about all year round.
For those gardeners that like to maintain a superior lawn it is most disheartening.
If you go to some garden centres for advise, they are likely to recommend a chemical called Diazinon either in a prill form or liquid. This I feel is not good advise as the 3 commercial companies that manufacture Diazinon at commercial strength, (much stronger than what is available to the home gardener) don't recommend their product as an effective control for grass grub. They give specific information on this aspect but state if you have heavy or clay soil it is a waste of time and application is done in summer with watering in instructions to be carefully done, to obtain some success.
Another problem arises in my mind with the use of Diazinon on lawns is that cats, dogs, birds and wild life use lawns/grass for various reasons. Cats and dogs walk on lawns and eat the grass! They also lick their paws and if they have been walking on the lawn where Diazinon prills are sitting they are going to pick up a certain amount of the poison on their paws, to be licked into their bodies.
This is a very important point and if we are using chemical poisons on our lawns called weed killers, we can be poisoning our pets. They may not be noticeably affected, they may go off their food for a day or so, they may develop skin problems, they may develop various forms of cancer and in the worst cases which have been reported to me, the animal has died within a day or two.
So what can we use to control Grass Grubs in the lawn and not be harmful to pets, children, wild life and us? For the answer is need to go back to the Neem tree and the kernels of this tree which contain numerous natural substances such as azadirachtin and salannin which affect insect pests but not other life forms.
A new Neem product called Neem Flo uses the very finely ground kernel's, particles, suspended in a liquid form so it can be sprayed. This product has a devastating effect on chewing insects disrupting their ability to feed and pass through their instars.
Not only will it assist in the control of grass grubs, it will also take out Porina caterpillars and nematodes in the lawn. This will then assist in restoring your lawns to a much better condition especially if you have root nematodes on your lawn grasses.
To use Neem Flo, mix one litre of the product into 10 litres of water into a lawn boy and apply over 100 square metres of lawn. Now is an excellent time to do this and the finely ground Neem powder will quickly enter both soil and plants and remain active for about a month or so. Mow your lawn before applying and don't mow again for about 10 plus days. Two or three days after application of Neem Flo, give the area a soaking if rain has not done this for you.
Neem Flo is also great for control of caterpillars such as white butterfly and other chewing insects such as beatles. Organic and safe to use.

Galls refer to local swellings or outgrowths quite unlike other parts of the plant.
They can occur on stems, crowns, roots and leaves.
Many galls are caused by pest attack but there are a few plant diseases which also cause these disfigurements.
The Gall itself is composed of plant tissue, which has been stimulated into excessive cell division and enlargement by the pathogen.
As galls develop they can divert nutrients from other parts of the plant and disrupt the vascular tissue leading to poor growth.
Crown Gall, Agrobacterium tumefaciens attacks young woody plants and can be a serious disease in nurseries.
Infection occurs through wounds caused by cultural operations or soil organisms.
The gall will be noticed at soil level or slightly below and poor growth will transpire.
It is transmitted through soil movement and infected plants and can persist in the soil for many years.
Commercially a biological control is available which involves dipping the roots of nursery stock in a solution containing a non-disease producing , but related bacterium (Dygall).
This produces an antibiotic and colonizes the potential infection sites thus protecting the plants from attack.
For the home gardener it is important to destroy or tip any affected dead material to prevent further problems.
Possible solution would be to use Trichopel Pellets at planting time.
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Damping-off diseases
Damping-Off; is a disease complex characterised by either the failure of seedlings to emerge (pre-emergence damping off) or the toppling over and death of young seedlings.
The latter is noticed by shrivelling and discoloration at the shoot base.
Damping-off only effects seedlings, usually a pythium species or Rhizoctonia solani is the casual agent but various Fusarium and Phytophthora species can also attack young plants.
All these are soil dwelling and are dispersed by working the soil.
Damping off pathogens cause infection over a wide range of temperature.
The degree of soil moisture depends on the pathogen concerned.
High soil moisture favours Pythium and Phytophthora, Rhizoctonia at about 2/3 saturation and some Fusarium species can cause damping off in relatively dry soils.
Good sanitation and hygienic practises are essential when germinating seeds.
Using sterilised seed raising mixes will be of great value, having adequate light so that seedlings do not stretch for light, adequate moisture without being too wet allowing the germinating medium to slightly dry out before watering.
Various products can assist such as Trichopel pellets mixed with the seed raising mix and misting with Pyrosol.
Thiram is a fungicide that will also assist. Ooooo To the top of the Page
Dieback and Canker Diseases.
Die Back and Canker Diseases: many pathogens attack stems and woody parts of tree and vine crops.
They are mostly noticed as a canker, a discoloured, elongated, often sunken, diseased area on the plant.
Gum exudation may also happen in some cases.
Progress of the disease can mean that the canker may encircle the whole stem or branch causing the plant to die above this ringbarking.
Dieback refers to the gradual death of tissue and the loss of leaves back from a growing point.
It can be caused by stem parasites but more often it is a root problem especially when the whole plant is affected.
European Canker attacks pip fruit and is more prevalent in cool, wet conditions and is seldom a problem in drier areas such as Canterbury, Nelson and the Hawkes Bay.
The disease appears as, premature leaf drop, death of twigs, sunken cankers with concentric ridges seen on twigs and branches.
In humid weather, cottony sporulation maybe seen from cankers.
Red pinhead-sized fruiting bodies maybe produced, especially in winter.
The disease comes from rainsplashed spores and infection through leaf scars and wounds.
Control is by spraying Champion Copper and Raingard at leaf fall.
Perkfection sprayed in spring will also assist to strengthen the tree against the disease.
Didymella stem canker attacks tomato plants in wet weather and during cool-moderate temperatures.
It is seen by dark sunken cankers on the tomato stems or trunk. Leaves may turn yellow and then the whole plant collapses.
The disease comes from rain splashed spores. The disease winters over on dead plant material and can be recycled through compost.
Good hygiene is a must. Planting in free draining soil, spraying with Perkfection and Pyrosol will assist the plant naturally to build up its defences against the disease.
Chemical fungicides can also be used in the spring if required.
Bacterial blast attacks stone fruit in wet warm weather. Cankers appear and often excluding a dark gum.
Twigs exhibit dieback and often whole branches die. Leaves show a shot hole appearance.
Liquid Copper Spray with Raingard in spring and autumn, Perkfection also in the spring will assist in control.
Other diseases that can cause dieback and cankers include Botrytis, Sclerotinia and the mildews.
Leaf spot diseases can also affect these plants parts.
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Rust diseases are caused by a group of related fungi from the taxonomic order Uredinales. They can be found on a wide range of plants recognised by their characteristic yellow/orange spore pustules (urediniospores) which are formed on leaves and other green tissue of plants.
Urediniospores are very light and easily spread by air currents causing a buildup of the disease during the growing season.
The summer spore stage is easily observed, some rust species have up to 5 different spore stages in their life cycle.
One of the more important spore stages is the teliospore, which is a black-brown spore stage that over-winters. Unable to directly affect plants, teliospores remain in the leaf litter till spring when they will germinate to produce infective light, wind-blown spores that will start the cycle over again.
Rust infected plants are less vigorous and smaller than non affected plants. Rust is a slow killer and in trees it can attack year after year without being fatal as it is in smaller plants.
The home gardener will know of the plants such as roses that are attacked with rust each year. The removal of debris and leaves in the autumn/winter period can significantly reduce the disease problem in the garden. Remember to, that the spores can be carried from a neighbouring garden to affect your plants in a season.
The removal of the first affected leaves and a protective spray of Champion Copper and Raingard repeated every 14 days will help prevent the disease from getting a hold. Neem Tree Oil is reputed to be an effective control against rust and the spread of rust damage. I have heard of this but as I do not have any rust problems in my garden, I cannot confirm personally that this is correct.
Maybe because I do spray regularly with Neem oil anyway, could be the possible reason for the disease not appearing.
Sulphur Sprays will assist in control
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The best time to sow a new lawn is in the autumn. The soil is warm and there is usually sufficient autumn rains to aid germination and assist establishment. Then during the cooler months, the root systems of the new grasses are able to become well established. This is followed by the strong spring growth before the dry months of summer.
A lawn sown in the autumn can be sprayed with lawn weed killers such as Turfix in the spring to clean up any weeds that may have appeared.
By starting preparations for a new lawn this month gives plenty of time to ensure that the area will be as free from weeds as possible.
The area should be cultivated then new top soil spread to obtain the right levels and run off as required.
Once this stage has being reached the area should be deep watered then allowed to dry to germinate weed seeds that are present.
When the weeds are germinated they can be sprayed with either Zero or Roundup.
If there are clovers present then add WoodyWeed Killer to the spray.
The next day after spraying water the area well again. This will speed up the growth of the weeds and cause them to die quickly. It will also help any further weed seeds to germinate. A good soaking of the area every 3 to 4 days can be continued until you are ready to sow. All weeds that appear during this time can be sprayed with Zero or the other products mentioned.
A week prior to sowing, the area should be fertilised with a good fertiliser such as Yates Gro Plus General Garden Fertiliser. Spread this at the rate of 100 grams per square metre. (That's about two handfuls)
Give the area a light watering. Prior to sowing check once again for any sign of weeds. If there are any spray with Zero and wait 6 hours before sowing seed. Break the surface of the soil with a light raking then broadcast the lawn seed. The choice of lawn seed that you sow is dependant on the type or quality of lawn required and to what traffic the area is likely to bear.
For high class lawns sow a luxury lawn with Yates Superfine Lawn seed.
For areas where there are likely to be games played or even vehicles driven on, sow a hard wearing seed such as Yates Gayblade.
Remember the best time to sow a new lawn is in the Autumn and the preparations should begin this month.
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Many gardeners have a lemon tree and likely one or two other Citrus trees so now is an opportune time to look at the problems that can occur.
You may wish to cut this out for future reference.
Insect problems include; Aphids, usually clusters of black insects on young leaves. Spray with Neem Oil or any chemical insecticide.
Mealy bug, often the presence of black, sooty mould will be the first noticed signs. Small, mealy insects found in protected cavities. Spray as above.
Scale, poor growth, pale dehydrated leaves will be noticed. Fruit will be small and dry. Hard scale-like insects on woody and green stems. Scale numbers build up in dry seasons, spray as above or use conqueror oil over summer months. Leafroller caterpillar, leaves tightly rolled and foliage and surface of fruit eaten. Spray with Neem Oil from October to March.
Soft wax scale, snow white, soft scale likely sooty mould present. Treat as Scale.
Trips, silvering of foliage and fruit. Black spots of excrement maybe seen especially under leaves. Spray as above from November to March.
Mites, leaves go yellow and hydrated. Minute insects under leaves. Common in hot dry weather, spray with Neem Tree Oil.
Lemon tree borer, tree shows poor growth, are dehydrated and branches die. Holes found in branches and sawdust indicates presence of borer.
Treat holes with a borer applicator from Kiwi Care. Remove infected wood where practical and burn.
DISEASES; Citrus brown rot, fruit develops brown rot and drops from tree. Prune out lower branches of tree to increase air circulation, spray with Champion Copper.
Verrucosis/scab, irregular, grey, scabby, wart-like growth on fruit or stems.
Spray with Champion Copper at monthly intervals.
Brown Spot, spots on leaves, fruit and stems of mandarins. Common in damp weather. Spray with Liquid Copper, prune dead material and burn it.
Melanose, small dark, red-brown spots on leaves and fruit, often merging. Skin may crack. More common on older trees in warm humid weather. Prune off dead twigs and branches. Spray with Champion Copper at monthly intervals.
Lack of fertiliser, pale small leaves, Feed regularly with Citrus Fertiliser or use Burnets Slow Release Citrus Fertiliser every 3 months. Iron, light green leaves fading to pale yellow or white. Veins remain green.
Apply fertiliser and Sequestrene.
Zinc, new leaves small and narrow, growing close together. Spray foliage with Lush and apply Trace element mix to drip line.
Magnesium, older leaves yellow from outer edge and yellow area between the main veins on younger leaves. Spray foliage with lush and sprinkle Epsom salts to the drip line.
GENERAL; Citrus trees are pruned at this time of the year by removing total branches from within the frame work of the tree to open the tree up and allow for better air circulation. Do not trim off the ends of branches as this causes further branching and a denser tree. NOTE Citrus tree borer love those freshly cut stumps for laying eggs in, so treat all cuts immediately with a sealing paste. A latex paint is just as good as anything.
Citrus trees are feed in Spring and Autumn. Apply 500 grams of Gro Plus Citrus fertiliser for each year of the trees age up to a maximum of 5 kgs for a 10 year plus tree. Two thirds of this is applied in the Spring and the balance in the Autumn. Otherwise use a specialised slow release fertiliser for citrus trees.
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Last year I was given three samples to try out in my gardening endeavours.
Two of these were for use on plants and one for myself.
All the products originated from prehistoric deposits of what one could call prehistoric compost.
Now I had heard that these types of products were all the rage in Canada and America so I was interested in finding out more about them.
A very interesting booklet was also supplied with my samples and I would like to share with you some of the things that I found out.
Firstly in Prehistoric times the planet was extremely mineral rich and plants grew at tremendous rates and to sizes well beyond what their ancestors of today grow. Prehistoric animals also grew to be giants and one interesting aspect of this was some of these herbivorous eating animals had small heads and jaws (about the size of a horse's head) yet they had giant bodies in comparison.
Now logic tell us that even if a head of that size ate 24 hours a day it could not consume enough to support that size body.
It was able to however, as the vegetation was so mineral rich the creatures did not have to eat much to sustain the giant bodies.
We know that over time the giant vegetation and animals disappeared and most of what they were, became the fossil fuels that we are so dependant on today.
But some freak aspects of nature also occurred and as a result we have the residues of these times intact as they were not converted to fossil fuels.
Most countries including NZ lack in many minerals and elements and I presume the reason why is these have been all used up in the past.
So it stands to reason that if you had some of this mineral rich compost, millions of years old, and were to give small amounts to your plants, they would be healthier and better as a result.
Now there are on the earth a few isolated groups of people that live in mountainous regions at high altitudes who are reputed to live very long life spans of over 100 years, are very fit and active, don't suffer from ailments and when they do die they do so very peacefully in their sleep.
The possible reason for this is that they are in contact with mineral rich glacial ice, which not only supplies them with a milky like water but is also available for plants and animals.
The next aspect that I learnt was that there is a complex pattern that has to take place for vitamins and minerals to be absorbed by humans and animals.
Minerals in their natural form are in rock-materials which over millions of years are ground down to fine particles that form soil.
Then micro-organisms digest these mineral soils bringing them to a very small molecular size, complexing them in a very basic organic structure and making them water soluble.
It is in this format or through the process known as photosynthesis, that these minerals become nutrients to plants.
Plants in turn play the important role of further complexing and chelating them, converting them to what is called 'organic minerals' -meaning minerals that are attached to carbon atoms.
Humans and animals eat plants and in turn we eat animals, so humans are able to obtain these vital minerals.
If the minerals are not present at the beginning of the chain they certainly wont be at the end result when we come to eat our food.
Thus two of the samples given to me were, 'Bio-Energy Balance' (granular) and 'Raw Earth, Life Foundations' (liquid) which are both extremely rich in prehistoric minerals and elements and are used directly onto plants as a super tonic or food.
Now if you apply these to say your salad vegetables as they are growing, you will take into your own body an extensive amount of goodness, when you eat the produce. (best raw such as lettuce etc)
This process is far better than taking pills for vitamin and mineral deficiencies as it is the natural way the body was designed to take these needs.
It is likely that the pills we purchase, (they are not cheap) the minerals are only partially absorbed by our bodies and in some cases likely not at all and we just end up with a colourful urine.
The other product that I was given is called 'Colloidal Body Booster' and this is derived from plants that have been grown in the two previous products and thus it is a liquid that is highly concentrated in minerals ready for our bodies to absorb.
I am a fairly healthy sort of person for my 55 years of living but I was beginning to suffer from pain in my left shoulder when I raised my arm above my head. (Someone suggested arthritis setting in)
I have used the three products, watered my windowsill herbs with the plant ones and also used the same in my seed sprouting, the later 'Colloidal' taken occasionally when I remember. Now I have no pain whatsoever in my shoulder and recently in my annual medical check found that my blood pressure and cholesterol levels were now excellent and other tests showed that all was very well. (I am rapt)
Outside of these products and their use, my life style otherwise had not changed.
I can now see the importance of obtaining all the vitamins and minerals possible in a natural way, through plants and how these are not available to us through our normal food sources no matter how careful we are about our diet.

Organic food might be better for you as it does not contain toxic chemicals but it still needs a supply of all the minerals and elements to be really worthwhile to our bodies.
In many cases the only difference between organic grown food and non-organic is the removal of harmful chemicals. It's just not enough.
I know if I had a serious medical condition, I would be right into this idea of making my body healthier with prehistoric derived minerals.
I also aim to keep my body healthy anyway and hopefully avoid problems by the continuing use of these materials in my gardening and diet.
If you would like to learn more, send a Stamped Address Envelope to 'Booklet,' 42 Rodney Street, Howick, Auckland.
They will send you a free booklet on this interesting subject.
Note also, 'Pyrosol' a product that I have talked about in the past few months also is derived from similar prehistoric material.
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It has been my great privilege to be able to introduce new organic products to the home gardener over the past years, and now there is available from some garden centres, 'Mycorrcin Plus'
This product has been used commercially in New Zealand and overseas, during the last few years with some really incredible results. The product has numerous benefits and applications but first lets step back a moment and look what has happened in many gardens over the years.
Your gardens years ago, were likely lush and the healthy plants, thrived with the garden exuding vitality.
Now your gardens may have become stagnate. Things grow, but slowly and they don't have that vital, really healthy look. So what has happened? Well over the years we have been sucked into applying chemical sprays and fertilisers to the detriment of our soil and plants. We have reduced or destroyed the beneficial fungi and micro-organisms in the soil. Science is only now starting to discover the vital interaction between these life forms and their interaction with the roots of plants. It's these actions that break down nutrients making them into soluble forms so that our plant's roots can absorb them. What 'Mycorrcin Plus' does, is replace these organisms and encourage their growth.
· Improves soil structure, by promoting beneficial microbes which assist with the composting of organic matter into humus.
· Stimulates Mycorrhizal fungi, which act as an extension to the plant's root system assisting in the collecting of nutrients and moisture.
· Inhibits soil pathogens, containing defense proteins such as bacteriocin like substances which inhibit soil pathogens.
· Improves Calcium uptake, stimulates the growth of feeder roots and the microbes responsible for mineralization. Improving Calcium availability and uptake.
· Promotes balanced growth of both roots and canopy. The results is an architecturally and nutritionally balanced plant.
What this means to you is better crops, flowers, healthy plants with less disease problems, faster maturity times and reduced needs for fertilisers.
Stop and think about that for a moment; "Less need for fertilisers!"
When we visit our garden shops we see a vast range of plant foods and fertilisers. (Even though there are so many, your Garden Shop, only stocks a portion of what is totally available) Why has there been this proliferation of plant foods? Simple answer, we have to throw so much food into our gardens to get some sort of result. Only a fraction of what we throw on, gets into the plants, as there is not the soil activity available to make the food soluble for plants to consume.
What happens to the rest? It adds to the pollution of the planet! On this bases, you are not only wasting your money but you are helping to destroy our environment and the ocean's life forms. Nitrate pollution is one of the planet's worst problems.
Here are a few examples of what Mycorrcin Plus can do for you.
(there are more at
An Auckland gardener used the product on their Standard Roses in their back garden over this last season.
Their bush roses in the front (which have a better, sunny location) were not treated. In April the bush roses were covered in black spot, flowering finished and the plants not looking well at all. The Standard roses however, were in full flower with more buds coming, not a sign of black spot and the bushes shining with healthy foliage.
It was also noted by the gardeners that for the first time ever they could discern fragrance from these roses!
Now we all know that Auckland and hot districts are not good places to grow roses and get the real benefits from these plants. Grapes; Commercial plantings were one year advanced when compared to control. Root mass increased by 800%. A vineyard in France was able to save and restore their vines from the root-feeding insect 'phylloxera' and amaze the industry by the yields that they obtained from very old vines.
Strawberries, great results with crops 200-300% increase on really healthy plants.
A must for preferred plants such as roses, annuals, vegetables, fruit and lawns as well as other ornamentals. Soil drench applied before planting, 1ml per litre of water over a sq.M. Spray at 5ml per litre over existing plants. (Ideally every 14 days) Available in 250ml bottles.
Use in or over all your container plants, compost heaps and gardens. (Spray foliage and the soil around your plants.) If you have leaf fall then spray the dead leaves under trees and bushes and they will break down just about completely in 3-4 months putting all that goodness' quickly back into the soil. What else can I say other than try it and see for yourself.

Sometime ago I watch an informal TV advert that was promoting a product that increased the root structure of plants. The gist of the matter being; bigger, better roots, means, bigger, better plants. It was concept that I had not really considered because one did not see what is below, only what is above and we focus our attention on the upper structure of plants. Yet we know that if we take a plant, or even better a tree, that what we see above ground, is mirrored below ground.
I feel that we feed our plants and water them, to make the canopy of the plant grow bigger and better. We know that the food and water is taken up by the roots (after soil micro-organism activity) which is seen in the above ground structure of the plant.
We know too that sun light is an important aspect as energy is obtain from light, through photosynthesis.
But do we really look at the aspect from the root's side of things? No we just assume that the roots will take care of themselves. Yet if the roots of a plant are affected by disease such as root rots or club root then the top of the plant is noticed to suffer incredibly and often the plant dies as a result.
When we look at the nutritional requirements of the plant and consider what the roots need then we are on the way to creating healthier, bigger plants, quicker. I feel that if we pay more attention to the roots and their requirements, then we will obtain much better plants, flowers, vegetables and ornamentals.
I have written about this before and suggested that gardeners place two common products under their plants at planting time, namely Garden Galore and Gypsum. I started using these myself and got some excellent results.
But I felt it was only part way to what could be achieved. So in conjunction with Tui Garden Products we sorted out elements that would promote better rooting systems in plants.
After about a year of work and trials we have now come up with 'Root Booster' a specially formulated product that will produce better roots on any plant you may wish to plant.
One of our trials was done on Parahebe, which is a small growing native that does not need or want a lot of goodness in the soil.
We placed 'Root Booster' under 3 plants that were potted up into containers and a forth plant as a control. (It just had the same potting mix) all the plants were located in the same area and watered the same as required. It was only within a month or so that the results were noticeable, the plants that had 'Root Booster' under them had nearly twice as much foliage and they were denser as they had branched more often than the control.
This test I felt was very important as Parahebe will not do so well in a rich soil. We were able to produce better roots and thus a better canopy. This is another plus for 'Root Booster' as it can be used under plants that cant handle a rich soil such as many Australian and African natives.
You should use Root Booster whenever you plant out any plants, seedlings, shrubs or trees.
The amount you use in the planting hole varies as to the size of the hole/or plant you are planting.
The 2kg bag comes with a measuring scoop and you would use one scoop for a seedling and 3 or more scoops for a larger tree or shrub. When planting up container plants it can be either placed under the plant or mixed into the upper layer of potting mix. Place it under bulbs also when planting. Mix it with your seed raising mix before sowing the seeds. Use it over areas of lawn that you are sowing or patching. It can also be used around existing plants and watered in.
The product is very economical and a 2 kg bag will plant a lot of plants.
What is below the soil will be reflected in what is above the soil and Root Booster will give you more flowers on bigger plants faster, speed up the maturity time of your vegetables and aid other plants to establish quicker and grow better.
You are likely to break a few records when you use this product.
By the way my photo is on the bag too.

When I was a boy my grandparents and parents kept good sized gardens producing most of the fruit and vegetables that we needed for the table.
One of the aspects of their garden and wastes was the utilization not of a compost heap but a chicken house.
It was a larger house with a good size run for the chickens to scratch and forage in. All the kitchen wastes when out to the chooks and every few months their living area would be mucked out and all the goodness from their droppings, mulched over the vegetable garden or around the fruiting trees and bushes.
Quiet often a few of the chooks would be let out to free range around the back yard and gardens where they would dig up grubs, eat weeds (preferred vegetables would be temporarily barricaded off) and generally do a lot of tidy-up work.
We had all the fresh eggs that the family could use, our wastes turned into rich manure, bugs and grubs removed and the soil in gardens were rich in humus and worms.
As a child I loved the chooks and even had a pet one I called 'Blackie' that I used to carry around the neighborhood, much to the anxiety of the neighbours, as I would want to bring Blackie into their homes when I visited. Over the last 20 odd years I have missed having chooks.
More recently I decided to build a chook run and have a few chooks once again. I am fortunate that I live in a Commercial area and had sufficient room for a reasonable sized run and chook house.
Especially so, as the first 4 baby chooks that I brought from a pet shop, turned out to be 4 roosters! I built the run right next to a Fejioa tree and it has certainly made a difference to the size and amount of fruit that I am harvesting currently.
More recently I purchased 3 'fancy' bantums (Pekins Bantums that have feathered socks over their feet,), 2 chickens and one rooster. I have made a separate, smaller, portable run and house for them as the big roosters would give them a hard time.
The point of all this is to give the suggestion that you also could keep a couple of chooks or more to the benefit of your gardens.
These small Pekin bantums, with their colourful feathers need only a suitably designed small house for roosting in and laying their eggs. A fenced in back yard will keep them secure and as long as they are safe they can roam the area to your betterment and pleasure. Even in a town house situation a couple of these small birds would not cause any problems. If you have a larger section you could build a larger house and run.
My larger unit also has a small selection of winged birds and a couple of ducks that I raised from ducklings.
The bantums that I have are really friendly and you can hand feed them and stroke their plumage.
Birds are an excellent addition to any garden setting and if you were to obtain a few bantums they would do some of your gardening for you. A word of warning though, don't get a rooster if you live close to neighbours and don't like the sound of crowing.
Mind you my small bantum rooster doesn't crow and I have been told that if I breed any chickens from these Pekins the pet shop will buy them off me.
Apparently they are really sort after. oooooo

Calcium is a major plant nutrient. It is essential for healthy plant growth and especially important for fruit crops and grapes. In fact the demand uptake of calcium by fruit crops generally is high with the average orchard demand requiring 250 to 500 Kg Per Ha annually.
There is also overwhelming evidence that fruit with a higher than average calcium status suffers from fewer physiological disorders and post harvest storage problems than those with a low calcium status.
Calcium is required in many soil types particularly clays to maintain a friable calcic soil structure where good aeration and drainage are a primary requirement. This also assists in the suppression of soil borne diseases which thrive in anaerobic conditions.
Sulphur is deficient in most New Zealand soils and it is an essential major plant nutrient necessary for the production of green protein rich, leaf material. Sulphur deficiency can result in stunted plant growth and pale yellow-green, younger leaves. Plants usually take up sulfur in sulphate form which is the type available in Gypsum Soil Life.
Elemental Sulfur is acidic and not immediately available to plants having to be converted to sulphate by micro organisms. Its availability depends on the number of micro organisms present in the soil.
You can enhance the micro organism ratio by using Mycorrcin Plus as a soil drench.
Gypsum is relatively soluble when compared with limestone (garden Lime) or elemental sulphur.
It is organic (natural) and being pH neutral at(7) allows for application at high rates not only to improve soil structure but to correct deficiencies of Calcium and Sulphur.
What this means to gardeners is simply, both heavy and light soils will be made better with applications of Gypsum. Plants will be healthier and your garden will improve overall.
Winter is a good time to apply Gypsum, assisting with drainage and making the soil better for planting out in the spring. Existing plants and lawns will benefit also from the winter application. After applying the Gypsum, water it in with a solution of Mycorrcin Plus at the rate of 1ml per litre over 1 sqM. You will then know that you have done about the best possible for your gardens this winter.