Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Pentatomoidea ("Stink Bugs")

Commonly known as stink bugs or shield bugs. 

Stink bugs have glands in their thorax between the first and second pair of legs which produce a foul smelling liquid. This liquid is used defensively to deter potential predators and is sometimes released when the bugs are disturbed. It is very caustic and can burn foliage, cause skin irritation and if squirted into the eyes, a very painful burn AND as we are only too aware very, very smelly.

The baby and adolescent stink bug looks so cute and innocent, lovely green and orange respectively with that cute little spot on their back. The nymphs are similar to adults except smaller and without wings, but yes, they also have stink glands. The nymphs and adults have piercing mouthparts, which are mostly used to suck sap from plants, although some eat other insects. When they group in large numbers, they can become significant pests and decimate your citrus trees by sucking sap from new shoots and flower stems, causing shoots to wither, resulting in consequent crop losses. 

The mature stink bug is a huge black armour-plated nightmare version of the baby and adolescent stink bug.
Stink bugs usually appear on citrus in Spring & Summer, but now is the time to get ahead of the game with these annoying pests. They are commonly seen on citrus trees from winter onwards where a prolonged dry spell has caused water stress, ie the perfect Coffs Coast Winter/Spring weather.

Spraying regularly with Pest Oil or Eco-oil can prevent attack and will make it hard for eggs and nymphs to mature, thus breaking the reproduction cycle. You can also help prevent future attacks by making sure your citrus trees receive adequate water and are mulched to keep soil moisture consistent. Also check the soil pH is between 6 and 7, and that your trees have received adequate complete fertiliser as this will help with pest resistance.

If you are unfortunate enough to have an infestation of this pest one method of eradication is to arm yourself with protective clothing - full face protection, long sleeves and rubber gloves and pick the little stinkers off and drop them into a bucket of water with kerosene added - instant death!!

Another suggested method is vacuum them up - however I can't stand the stink in the cleaner!

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Trouble with your garden?

Not to worry, it can't be as bad as this could it? Then again, we have the benefit of abundant summer rainfall.

Taken at a remote iron ore mine in WA

The original intention was good but production and mechanical maintenance eventually took precedence, says Michael R.

Editors note - good sign though!

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

GARDENERS' TIPS - Gardening in June 2014

  • Feed your Camellias now with blood and bone, watering in well. And then treat them with iron chelates to prevent leaf-yellowing iron deficiency.
  • Think about pruning your roses in the next few weeks. After pruning, it's important to clear away and destroy all fallen leaves, bloom and left over mulch etc. Once you've done that, apply lime sulphur to the plants themselves, and to ground around them, to help control fungal diseases like black spot. Then fertilise and mulch and watch your roses spring back to full flower production as the weather begins to warm up in late Winter and early Spring.

Sunday, 1 June 2014


June 2014 flower of the month: Grevillea

Common Name: Spider Flower

One of Australia’s most loved native beauties, this wide diverse group will have what you’re looking for in your Coffs Garden. With such an immense variety of form, shape, size and growth habits there is bound to be a perfect position in your garden for the Grevillea. The wonderful flowers, so colourful and rich in nectar, make this plant family a must for attracting birds to the garden and for this  reason alone, they should be a top choice in plant selection and garden design. They are rapid growing, hardy plants and flower over a very long period. They respond to a prune after
flowering—although it is hard to tell when they have finished as they always seem to be in flower!

Safety Tip - June 2014

Children in your garden

If children are to visit or participate in your garden, avoid planting toxic plants and consider removing existing species (such as castor oil bush and oleander) that are toxic to children. Consider what might be a danger to children even if it is not dangerous to adults. It might also be an idea to label hot-tasting plants such as chilli with visual and word warnings - the kids might like to help with these signs too!

President's Message - June 2014

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Coffs Harbour Spring Garden Competition, which is organised by our club as a major community event on the Coffs Harbour calendar.

The main objectives for the Competition are:

  • To showcase our city as a “garden city by the sea”.
  • To encourage gardeners (including our club members) to play their part in beautifying our city.
  • To show that local people care for their environment and are “waterwise”.
  • To help promote sound horticultural practices.
I believe we can be justly proud of the wonderful efforts put in over many years by many of our club members to grow this event into one of the largest regional garden competitions in NSW.

Last year we had over 100 entries in categories ranging from home gardens to schools, retirement homes, commercial businesses and resorts.  This year we are introducing a category for professional landscapers, which we hope will give them an opportunity to showcase their excellent work too.  This new category has been generously supported by Biomass Solutions who have been great sponsors of the Residential categories over the years.

It’s exciting that the Schools Challenge is back again, this time with the theme “Bouncing Baby Beets”. 

This year we are also hoping to encourage new entrants in the Residential section by offering them the chance to win a compost bin, which had been kindly donated by Club members, Gaye and Bob Tarry.

We are extremely fortunate to have the on-going support of Coffs Harbour City Council, the Coffs Coast Advocate, Coffs Harbour Regional Airport and Total Gardens as our Platinum Sponsors.  They are supported by many other local businesses and individuals who provide the cash and in-kind support we need to run the competition.  You’ll see the names of all these wonderful sponsors on the entry form and, of course, on our club website.  Please
support them wherever possible.

Finally, I would encourage everyone in the club to enter the competition.  There are plenty of categories to choose from so you don’t have to enter your whole garden if you don’t want to.  Our members have done very well in the past and I’m sure 2014 will be no exception.  So now is the time to begin getting your gardens ready to have a go at wining in this important 25th
anniversary year.