Taking us to Chelsea in 2007
Gardening Articles for week ending 23rd
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Written by Wally Richards.
MERRY XMAS AND HAPPY NEW
The writer and staff of this Newspaper wish you all a very happy Christmas
and a great gardening year for 2007. Your gardens and plants should be
looking very nice for the festive season and you can take pride in your
efforts over the last few months, when family and friends visit.
Now the weather is starting to improve, you will need to keep your gardens
watered and if going away, ensure that moist bare soil is covered with
a suitable mulch to conserve moisture.
Enjoy the time and have fun. Regards Wally Richards.
THE GRINCH PESTS OF XMAS GARDENS
Many of us will have seen the film, ‘The Grinch’ which was a spoiler of
Christmas and in your gardens there are a number of pests that can spoil
our plants if we are not careful.
Over the year I have endeavoured to show you how to obtain healthy plants
by caring for the soil life and using beneficial mineral products, rather
than the harmful chemical sprays and fertilisers.
Many of you have reported back, after following my advice in these columns
or from reading my book, that your gardens have never been better. That
is great stuff to hear and visual proof of the methods which you can relate
to. Keep up the good work.
Healthy plants maybe disease free but they are still vulnerable to some
insect pest problems, though often far less than unhealthy plants.
In Nature the balance is achieved through beneficial insects called predators
keeping the populations of pest insects low. It takes time to build up
populations of predator insects in your gardens and the past use of chemical
sprays has greatly reduced their populations. Some gardeners who
have taken care to look after the predators in their gardens report good
populations which keep most pests under control.
Remember the saying, ‘The enemy of my enemy is my friend’ which is very
true in our gardens.
Ladybirds, praying mantis, predator wasps and small birds are our friends
as they will keep the pests numbers low. To this end, it is important
that we do not kill off all their food sources and allow a few pests to
live and provide food for our friends.
At the same time we do not want to allow the pests to run amok and damage
our plants so let’s have a look at the safe control methods for keeping
pest numbers down without harming our friends.
Neem Tree Granules has to be one of the easiest methods of control for
pests on a number of plants.
Simply sprinkle the granules on the soil in the root zone of the plants
you wish to protect, as the granules breakdown they release the Neem properties,
which are taken up by the plant’s roots.
The properties translocate through the foliage and when a pest eats/sucks
a little of the foliage they get a small dose of Neem and stop eating,
to die later. This works very well on some plants and to a lesser degree
on others. The granules are perfect for the control of whitefly and caterpillars
on tomato plants, outdoors or in a glasshouse.
They are also very effective on caterpillars that attack brassicas.
Pest soil insects such as root mealy bugs and carrot fly are easily controlled
by applications to the soil. The granules need to be replaced about every
6 to 8 weeks and you can experiment with them on any garden plants which
are attacked and eaten by insect pests.
If you find the granules do not have the desired control on some types
of plants or if you have large pest populations already on the plants,
then you will need to spray occasionally with safe sprays such as Neem
Tree Oil and Key Pyrethrum. These two sprays can be mixed together but
should only be sprayed just on dusk because the pyrethrum is very quickly
deactivated by UV.
Key pyrethrum is a quick knock down spray where the Neem Tree Oil gives
extended control through its anti feeding and growth regulator properties.
The normal spray program would be two sprays 7 days apart then followed
by one 14 days later and a final spray a month later. If problem persists
then keep spraying about every 7 to 10 days.
Spider mites can easily and quickly controlled with a spray of Liquid
Sulphur and Raingard. Normally, one complete coverage spray is all that
is needed but a word of warning never mix with Neem Tree Oil as the two
will burn foliage. In fact a period of at least 2 weeks should be applied
to any plants where the oil or the sulphur has been used before using
Liquid Copper with Raingard added is very effective in controlling cherry/pear
slugs on plum, pear and cherry trees. The same copper spray will also
protect plants from snails and ordinary garden slugs while the copper
Leaf hoppers are a big problem pest for many and a number of sprays 7
days apart, using the Neem Tree Oil will be needed to obtain control.
The Neem Tree Oil sprays will cover all pest insect problems (not pear
slugs or garden snails/slugs) and by adding Raingard to the spray will
extend its control period.
The combination of Neem Tree Oil spray and Neem Tree Granules is needed
to control mealy bugs on any plants. The granules get the mealy bugs in
the root zone and the oil takes care of the ones on the plant’s foliage.
As mentioned a couple of weeks back the felt pads soaked in Neem Tree
Oil and wrapped around the trunks of Rhododendrons is an effective control
for thrips on larger rhododendrons which are difficult to spray. Bands
are left on for only one month.
Neem Tree Oil can be applied to tanks in hydroponic systems to control
pests on plants growing in these systems.
I have been told of some people that have used it for head lice diluted
down to normal spray application strength I presume.
A farmer told me he used it for maggot control and other pests on sheep.
These are applications that have not been trialled yet to find the effectiveness
of the oil.
I do know of trials where the Neem tree Oil has proved successful in the
control of a number of leaf diseases such as black spot and rust. Some
rural gardeners have also told me that their garden plants sprayed with
Neem Tree Oil has prevented/reduced possum and rabbit damage.
Likely as time goes by we will find many more uses for the Neem Tree and
One thing for sure is that Neem Tree Oil and Granules are far safer and
better to use than poisonous chemicals.
Have a great Xmas. Wally Richards
Problems ring me at 0800 466 464 (Palmerston North 3570606)
Garden Pages and News at www.gardenews.co.nz
Shar Pei pages at www.sharpei.co.nz
out the Event Calendar. If you want your activity included, just let us
know. Thank you.