Gardening Articles for week ending 19th APRIL
Written by Wally Richards.
Every now and then a gardener will come up with a gem of an
idea that will naturally solve some gardening problem.
A few months ago I happen to be talking to a green keeper,
(Ray) from up north about a couple of gardening problems that
he had, and during the conversation he mentioned a product
that came from Australia that he was using on his bowling
The product consisted of Eucalyptus oil and Tea Tree oil along
with natural plant foods in the form of manures and seaweed/fish
Ray told me about how he is using the product on his greens
to give fantastic control of grass grubs, black beetles, root
nematodes and porina caterpillars.
In the past Ray had been using various chemical poisons which
he detested as the residue of these poisons would be left
on the greens for bowlers to not only get onto their footwear
but also onto the bowling balls which of course are been handled.
Unless the bowlers washed both hands, clothes and footwear
they would be tracking home substances that are not good for
This new natural product was going to overcome any health
aspects but how would it go controlling pest insects in the
Ray told me it was magic and did a far better control than
any of the chemicals had ever done.
Ray also cited a case where some fellow green keepers, up
his way, were having problems with porina caterpillars in
their greens. They firstly used diazinon at normal strength
and the caterpillars just laughed and kept on munching. So
then they applied the same poison at 3 times the recommended
rate and still a number of porina survived. So Ray gave them
a few litres of this natural product which they applied. The
result was a complete control of the porina from one application.
The product is applied at the rate one 1 litre to 25 litres
of water to cover 50 square metres of lawn.
(Diluted at the above rate; 200mls to 5 litres of water applied
to 10 square metres of lawn)
After application the lawn is further lightly watered with
the hose or a sprinkler to wash the oils off the grass and
down into the top 6 to 10cm of the lawn. It is there that
it does its job.
Often lawns are the home of garden slugs which emerge out
of the soil and thatch to invade our gardens during moist
times. The product knocks them out also.
Worms will happily live underneath the oil layer in the top
soil without any known adverse effects.
Worms that are near the surface when applied may not fair
During a more recent conversation with Ray I found that these
oils will control other soil insects such as eel worm, centipedes,
root mealy bugs etc. Even the likes of earwigs and slaters
can be given the old hurry on if they are causing problems.
Being a bit of an experimenter I obtained a bottle of the
product and mixed it at 10 mils to 250 mls of water in a trigger
sprayer and went hunting for bugs on leaves. I found some
whitefly, (adults and nymphs) caterpillars and leaf hoppers
on the backs of some leaves. Sprayed them and the leaves and
checked the next day to find dead whitefly and a caterpillar
that was a funny yellow colour, still alive but fairly sick.
The manufacture informed me that the oils act as an irritant
to the pests and they succumb as a result.
Imaginative gardeners may find this product an interesting
tool in assisting in the control of some pests such as wire
worm in the soil by treating the area a few weeks before planting
(say) their new seasons potatoes. The product is only recommended
for lawn use and should only be used for the control of pests
in the lawn areas. Used for any other purpose is not recommended
but being two natural oils I cannot see any health concerns
as you are not likely to spray over any food crops and eat
them without first washing as normal.
Being a oil based product, it can of course burn foliage and
grass if sprayed in sunlight.
For lawn applications it is recommended to use early in the
morning or late afternoon and washing in with the hose, the
oils off the foliage and into the soil.
My research on the net indicates that Eucalyptus oil is toxic,
but in weak solutions is used medically with warnings of possible
toxic effects. (uses inhalers and medications)
Tea Tree oil should not be taken orally as it can be toxic
in this form also. (Also used in various medical preparations
The products label states ; Do not feed grass
clippings to animals and birds which would apply to
the first or second mowing after application to a lawn area.
If you have pets that eat grass then make sure you water the
oils off the grass after initial application before allowing
the pets to roam the lawn.
Mind you the oils are only in the following strengths; Eucalyptus
oil 10g/L and Tea Tree oil at 2.5g/L and then they are going
to be further diluted at 1 litre concentrate to 25 litres
of water and further reduced when washing into the soil off
the grasss foliage. Bearing these precautions in mind
the possible harm to pets and birds would be very minimal.
This Australian product is called Professor Macs 3 in 1, been
a natural lawn pest insecticide, lawn food and wetting agent.
For lawn fertilising it is used at any time of the year at
100mls to 2 litres of water to cover 10 square metres. This
rate will in fact assist a little in the control of lawn pests
as a sort of top up after the initial application rate.
The wetting agent aspect will assist in drier times for the
prevention of Dry Spot in lawns.
This is when the soil dries out and surface tension prevents
the rain or your watering from sinking into the soil.
Noticed often as a brown area with nice green grass around
Professor Macs 3 in 1 is becoming available now through garden
centres (ask for it by name) in a one litre container and
also in a 2 litre container that you snap your hose onto,
to apply easily to 100 square metres of lawn area.
From my conversations with Ray, the green keeper and his absolute
phrase for this natural product I can see it being a fantastic
boon for those gardeners that want a great lawn without the
need to use harmful chemicals. A neat Green product.
Problems ring me at 0800 466 464 (Palmerston
Garden Pages and News at www.gardenews.co.nz
Shar Pei pages at www.sharpei.co.nz