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Welcome to New Zealands Plant Portal. Wally Richards Weekly Garden Tips & Advice.


Gardening Articles for week ending
9th February 2008

Written by Wally Richards.


Summer is hard on gardens and plants with dry soils plus rapidly increasing populations of pest insects.
Lack of moisture places water stress on plants and once plants become stressed they are much more susceptible to attacks of insect pests and diseases.
Water restrictions in many areas compounds the problem if you are only able to water every second day.
There are two ways to reduce a plant’s water needs, which can be applied to your preferred plants.
Firstly sprinkle potash or sulphate of potash (potassium sulphate) around the plants in the root zone and lightly water this in. Repeat once a month over the next few months as it does another important thing besides making the plant more drought resistant, it also makes the plants more cold hardy.
Using the potash applications you have assisted your plant’s ability to live with less water needs and hardened them up for the winter chills coming.
Plants are like us, we perspire, they transpire, both in humans and plants it is a means of keeping cooler in hot conditions.
We can reduce a plant’s water needs by spraying the plant over and under the foliage with Vaporgard.
Vaporgard puts a film over the foliage which acts as a sunscreen against UV and reduces moisture loss by about 30%. The film which lasts for about 3 months from one application, creates a barrier against diseases such as black spot, rust, etc from establishing on the foliage. The film also makes it more difficult for sucking, rasping and chewing insects to do damage.

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Any Problems ring me at 0800 466464 (Palmerston North 3570606)
Email wallyjr@gardenews.co.nz
Web site www.gardenews.co.nz

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If insects such as trips, whitefly, aphids are on the foliage when you spray the Vaporgard the pests are locked up in the film and die.
Your plants have a new lease of life, water requirements are reduced, the plant can gain more energy from the sun and pests and diseases are less of a problem. If we happen to have an early frost your plants thus treated, will also have frost protection while the film is over the foliage. (Another spray 3 months later, over all your frost sensitive plants should be applied.)
Water restrictions such as only watering every second day is a big problem for those of us that have container plants outdoors.
I had an elderly lady ring me during the week from Hamilton saying what can she do for her six tomato plants in containers, now that they are only able to water every second day.
This is the time to save your grey water from the sink, washing machine and bath.
After washing the dishes take the water from the sink and water your plants.
When you use the washing machine take the outlet hose and place it into the laundry tub and collect the used water. (don't leave this to happen without keeping an eye on it as you might flood the laundry)
If you have a shower over a bath, place the plug in the bath and collect this water and if you have a bath use the water for the garden. In all these water recycling methods you have a bit more work in carrying water around but it can keep your garden plants happy in drought times.
There are people in drought prone areas that have installed holding tanks to collect all their grey water for the gardens. Maybe as global warming increases more of us may have to set up permanent arrangements like this. Did you know that the average household can collect about 83000 litres of grey water each year. That is a lot of water from baths, showers, laundry and kitchen.
By the way water from the toilet is called black water.
You may need to change some of the things you do so no harm will come to your plants or soil.
Don't use the following: Washing detergents with high phosphorous levels (many brands now have low or nil phosphorous, so choose one of these)
Bleaches and other disinfectants.
Fats (from soaps).
Washing detergents using salt. Many cheaper brands use salt as a filler. It does not add to the washing power of the powder. Use only concentrates; or, better still, liquid detergents.
Watering with dish washing liquids in the water has another advantage as this water breaks soil surface tension and allows water to penetrate rather than run off.
Grey water is applied directly onto the soil and not over the plants.
By adding some Magic Botanic Liquid to your grey water that you are going to water onto the garden will also greatly assist in keeping every thing more natural.
Here is a way of turning a very dry area into a better moisture retention area;
Firstly add some dish washing liquid to warm water in your watering can and moisten the area with this water. Next give the area a good watering. Place newspaper or cardboard over the bare soil and wet it down. Cover the wet paper with a layer of compost, bark fines or untreated sawdust.
For the later two always sprinkle blood and bone over the paper before covering.
In drought times even the deeper rooting shrubs and trees can suffer. One way to help make watering of them easier is to cut the bottom off 2 litre plastic bottles and bury them neck first into the soil in the root zone, so that the cut bottom is just above soil level. Then when watering fill up the bottles with water and the water will be forced down into where the roots can use it. This reduces moisture loss from evaporation.
When the soil becomes dry the soil life dies or becomes dormant along with worm activity.
This is not a healthy state for your plants. Next problem is chlorine in the tap water which is chlorine gas pumped into the water to kill bacteria. As water reservoirs become low in summer more chlorine is used. (Often you can smell it when you turn on the tap)
Chlorine is harmful to our soil and plants and can increase the amount of disease in the soil and on plants. (Kills off the good bacteria and not all of the bad fellows) Do not water the foliage with chlorinated water. Place a filter on your hose tap to remove the chlorine. (Best) Alternatively fill tubs or buckets with chlorinated water and leave in the sun for a day to remove the chlorine, then water.
For your own health and that of your children and pets, place a filter on your kitchen tap to remove the chlorine.
Did you know that drinking chlorinated water increases the risk of developing cancer of the rectum or the bladder, the risk increasing as the more chlorinated water is drunk.
A study by the U.S. Council of Environmental Quality showed that the cancer risk among people drinking chlorinated water is 93% higher than among those whose water does not contain chlorine.
Dr. Niels Skakkebaek of the University of Copenhagen made a study that demonstrated the average human sperm counts have dropped in Denmark by almost 50% due to the presence of man-made chlorine found in human tissues and breast milk.
Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, found that high levels of trihalomethanes, a by-product of chlorine in drinking water, significantly increased the risk of stillbirth.
A hundred or so dollars spent on a filter unit is obviously a great investment in your health.

Problems ring me at 0800 466 464 (Palmerston North 3570606)
Web site www.gardenews.co.nz

Garden Pages and News at www.gardenews.co.nz
Shar Pei pages
at www.sharpei.co.nz

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