Gardening Articles for week ending
1st SEPTEMBER 2007
Written by Wally Richards. [Photo]
This week I thought it would be a good idea to pass on a number
of gardening tips which are topical at this time of the year.
The idea came about when a reader emailed me this week to
get some inside information on growing potatoes. His family
have an annual competition on growing spuds,
to see who can grow the biggest potato, the biggest crop off
one plant etc. All members of the family grows the same variety
of potatoes for the competition and the type each year, is
chosen by a non-family person, making all things equal at
the start. Here is my reply to him; First it depends
on the soil you are growing in..Generally you should deep
cultivate and incorporate a good amount of compost into the
soil making a friable loam. Make a trench about 20cm deep
and ensuring the soil underneath is friable and mixed with
the compost (Daltons or Oderings Compost is good)
Place about a handful of Sheep manure pellets, a tablespoon
of gypsum, and a teaspoon of BioPhos and a teaspoon of potash,
cover lightly with a little soil and sit the potato on it
with the eyes pointing upwards. Cover with soil/compost mix
about 3 cm over seed and water in with Magic Botanic Liquid.
As the shoots come through the soil, lightly cover with more
mix. Keep doing this until you have a mound about 12cm tall
then allow the tops to grow. Spray the tops two weekly with
Magic Botanic Liquid and Mycorrcin. Sprinkle a few of the
Neem Pellets or Granules on the mound, by the shoots, in case
of soil insects eating into the tubers. The soil should be
kept moist at all times but not wet.
That maybe help to others also and if growing potatoes in
buckets I am told the one most suited to this is Moonlight.
Here is a tip a gardener told me to reduce codlin
moth damage in apples, he reckoned he is able to greatly
reduce damage by sprinkling Epsom Salts under the apple trees
at this time of the year and watering it in. I don't know
how effective it is but certainly worth a shot and the magnesium
from Epsom salts would be good for the trees.
Oxalis is a problem for many and the
easy way to knock it back is with Baking Soda. Mix a heaped
table spoon of baking soda into one litre of warm water, stir
to dissolve and add one mil of Raingard.
Spray the foliage of the oxalis on a sunny day when the ground
is a bit on the dry side. It burns the oxalis foliage without
harming any other plants. New foliage will appear and this
should be also treated in the same manner as soon as it shows.
If you stop the bulbs from having leaves they will run out
of energy and die. DO NOT work the soil as this only brings
fresh bulbs to the surface and extends the problem. Instead
cover the soil with fresh compost and plant into this.
The same solution of baking soda and Raingard is the best
spray to prevent and control powdery mildew
on any plants affected with this disease. The Raingard spreads
and sticks the baking soda and prevents it from washing off
in the rain for up to 14 days. This also applies to all contact
type sprays such as copper. If you add Raingard to any chemical
weed killers your kill effective rate will be increased by
50% according to trials I have read.
About this time every year I have gardeners complaining about
their broad beans flowering but no
fruit setting. (Beans are fruit technically as they have seeds
inside which we eat) The reason for no beans forming, after
the flowers fall is due to no pollination, which is due to
there not being any bumble bees around early in the season
to do the job. Bumble bees have to emerge as queens out of
their winter Hibernation and start forming a colony, till
this happens and numbers increase not many beans set. Later
on the plants produce well. Some gardeners make bumble
bee boxes for the insects to nest in and have these
scattered around their gardens. This is a good idea these
days especially in the North Island where there is a much
lower population of honey bees in the cities.
Another thing that you can do to encourage any native bees
or bumble bees to pollinate the broad beans is to spray them
with sugar and water. Dissolve a couple of table spoons of
raw sugar into a litre of warm water and spray the plants.
The same can be applied to any fruiting plant or tree that
requires pollination. Why raw sugar? Because it is natural
and more appealing to the insects, it is also far better for
you to take than white, refined sugar.
A lot of us will be germinating and growing
seedlings for pots and gardens and every time we transplant,
the young plants suffer. This can be simply overcome by spraying
the plants a couple of days beforehand with Vaporgard which
greatly reduces transplant shock and is ideal to spray onto
foliage you are going to cut for cuttings. (For cuttings
dip the end in a bit of honey or spit on them, either helps)
If planting out in a windy area or near the sea you can give
the plants a far better start by spraying them with the Vaporgard.
Increase the yield, size of the fruit and flavour, of strawberries
by spraying them every 2 weeks with Mycorrcin. Trials
showed an increase of 200 to 400% and thats a fact.
For best overall results in the garden apply sheep manure
pellets or Bio Boost (both are good) instead of any chemical
fertilisers. Spray the preferred plants (roses etc) and food
plants with Magic Botanic Liquid (MBL) every two weeks. Spray
the soil around the plants at the same time. Gardeners that
have been using this natural spray have reported that they
have never had such great gardens and crops before.
MBL makes a really big difference to the health of the plants
and soil and you will be impressed.
Many gardeners will be spraying with copper sprays at this
time and here is a big one, DO NOT
mix any spraying oils with the copper. Sure you have been
told in the past to mix the two together and many do so through
force of habit. The fact is the oil greatly reduces the effectiveness
of the copper and helps wash the copper particles off faster
in rain when compared to not having the oil. Then ask yourself
why is the oil used? The simple answer is, it is used to smoother
scale or thrip insects. If you have no scale or thrips present,
why waste your money? If the pests appear at anytime you can
use an oil then, to control them.
Liquid Coppers are more user friendly than powdered ones as
they do not block your jets like the powders do.
Soon aphids will appear on the new shoots of roses and other
plants; if you have any of those yellow cakes of Sunlight
soap, simply lather some up in warm water and spray
the aphids. Best done when the sun is off the plants, later
in the day. The fatty acids from the soap break down the aphids
If you do not have any of those yellow cakes then use Neem
Tree Oil with Key Pyrethrum added.
Whitefly on tomatoes is a great problem for many gardeners
and by simply placing some Neem Tree Granules around near
the base of the plants, will help prevent their populations
from building up without the need to spray much if at all.
The granules need to be repeated about every 6-8 weeks.
If you have worms in your lawn causing worm casts that you
do not like, then add some Cold Water Surf
to warm water and throw that over the lawn. The worms will
come to the surface where you should then pick them up and
bury these valuable creatures back into your gardens. Someone
said recently that it will also bring grass grubs to the surface
where the birds will eat them. Not sure if this is correct
or not but worth a shot. Do early in the morning as that is
when the sparrows etc are looking for breakfast.
There are hundreds of gardening tips but space has run out
again, more can be found in my book, Wallys
Down to Earth Gardening Guide. Happy Gardening.
Problems ring me at 0800 466464 (Palmerston North 3570606)
Web site www.gardenews.co.nz