Monday, 25 January 2016

Organic Approach to Pest Control - Part I Fruit fly

As gardeners we will always have to deal with pests. As Oliver Wendell Holmes said "On every stem, on every leaf, and at the root of everything that grew, was a professional specialist in the shape of grub, caterpillar, aphis, or other expert, whose business it was to devour that particular part." 

Over the coming months there will be posts written about an organic approach to attacking some common garden pests. The first post is about the fruit fly.

Let us look at one common pest - the fruit flyThere are some sound husbandry measures that can assist in this pest's limitation. One way is to always remove spent fruit that has fallen on the ground. By leaving them on the ground, this is a sure fire way for enabling pests to breed up. If there are fruit or vegetables that have been infected, prompt removal is the way to go - sometimes you might notice that a tomato has been 'stung' by fruit fly, best to bin that before the grub can munch its way through the fruit and mature, only to start the dastardly cycle again. 

You may have read of some home remedies for fruit fly traps. These products are designed to attract, trap and and in some cases, kill the little fellas by drowning or some other means.  It might be best to try a few different methods and perhaps you will jag one that works effectively for you. Some to perhaps give a go are:

  1. Apple cider vinegar (it has to be apple cider vinegar) is a great attractant for fruit flies as they cannot resist the smell of fermentation. You will need to add an over-ripe piece of fruit (a strawberry works well, lets face it they spoil so quickly) into about 1/2 cup of vinegar into a jar. Add a couple of drops of dish washing liquid (this alters the surface tension of the water). Make a funnel out of cardboard and tape it securely to the jar and the idea is that the fruit fly get into the jar but very few can actually make it back out.
  2. Another lure type of trap is with some very over-ripe fruit, placed into a glass jar and covered with plastic wrap secured with a rubber band and little holes punched into the wrap with a toothpick. The fruit fly get in but can't seem to make their way out again - you can either freeze the jar holus bolus or submerge in soapy water to drown them.
  3. Or if you are the type not to quite finish a bottle of red wine, just leave this outside where the flies are (of course rain and/or watering is not good at this point) and the flies will flock and die a very 'merry' death!
Some commercial products that you can use in conjunction with your home-made traps (or purchased commercial ones):
  1. Eco-naturalure Fruit Fly Bait - a concentrate containing protein and sugar bait, plus spinosad insecticide for control of fruit fly - this can be placed in a bottle in conjunction with the vinegar/fruit/wine lures mentioned above.
  2. Wild May Fruit Fly Attractant which is a liquid bait concentrate containing essential oils, that attract and drown fruit fly - these you can also use in a homemade wet trap or a commercially purchased one.
Or there are some commercial products that are sticky (Go Natural Insectrap) that have a pheromone attractant and once the flies land, that's it folks, they are stuck forever........ the added bonus with these ones is that you also catch citrus gall wasp, whitefly and aphid!

To see another post about the fruit fly visit here where you will see yet another method to attract fruit fly.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Outing 19 Jan 2016

A stunningly brilliant day with a beaut seabreeze for our first outing of the year. We enjoyed our morning tea on the deck with sweeping ocean views at Andrea's lovely native garden. 

We did advise folk that the drive was steep - however there were some members who just couldn't resist the challenge of the climb.

Andrea's drive is edged with Golden Penda Xanthostemon chrysanthus which must look stunning when it is fully out.

A lovely sitting area in the shade from an overhanging sail rimmed with fantastic pots including this terrific carnivorous plant pictured below.

A wonderful assortment of native plants - this area is under the clothes line! It would be a pleasure to do the laundry.......

Andrea has quite a steep slope adjacent to her home which she has densely planted out with mainly natives.

A large retaining wall has created a level garden.

What a stunner!  Grevellea 'Poorinda Golden Lyre' looking just terrific at 
the top of the drive.

A meandering path through some very impressive looking shrubs. This area, like all the garden has been really well mulched.

There was one fatality today........ President Geoff was admiring a large Lilly pilly fruit (from the Syzygium boonjee) and 'just touched it' and it fell into his hand. There was great discussion among those around him and the fruit was duly split open to examine the seeds and the taste etc. Andrea meanwhile was coming toward her precious Lilly pilly and was pointing out her fantastic fruit - 'oh! it's gone!'. There was one very embarrassed President G.

Seen above are the cute groundcovers that Andrea has planted - this Poorinda Royal Mantle will go a long way to cover this area soonish.

And just who doesn't like these little beauties? Everlasting daisies Bracteantha bracteata a lovely native flower which can be found from far north Queensland, through to coastal areas in Western Australia. They generally flower from spring to autumn, Andrea said that these ones are annuals.

Swamp Banksia 'Banksia robur' is a very dramatic shrub with very large, stiff serrated leaves. These leaves are a lovely mid-green on top and pale, flannel-like on the reverse. The bud is a bluish green but turns a yellow-green as they mature. The flowers darken further as they age. The spent flowers are a really interesting feature of this wonderful native.

Grevellea 'Dorothy Gordon' Andrea does really well to have this one looking so good. It really enjoys a well drained, loamy or sandy soil. It is a hybrid of G. sessilis and G. paradoxa.

Grevellea 'New blood' a low spreading groundcover which delights as it flowers for most of the year. This plants works well as a bird attractant.

Honey Myrtle Melalaleuca Thymifolia 'Pink Lace' is a dense mounded shrub with pink curled flowers that spot flowers throughout the year, isn't this just gorgeous?

Our second garden was at Moonee Beach. This garden won the 2015 New Home/New Garden category in the Spring Garden Competition.

It is hard to believe that this garden is just 18 months young.

There were tonnes and tonnes of river rocks delivered for water mitigation purposes. These rocks were dumped on a vacant piece of land next door and then individually placed into position.

This lovely spot is actually underneath the deck area and is so lush. There is a sitting area included in this cool spot with a fantastic viewpoint to look out on to the garden.

 This Begonia is doing 'just fine' in the protected, shady under deck area.

Pat, Corinne and Ray.

Hibiscus giving a great splash of colour.

A great sunny spot for the raised bed vegetable garden.

 CHGC Members enjoying their look around.

 Grevellea 'Poorinda Golden Lyre' 

Corinne & John moved from Sydney to Moonee Beach and they had potted up as many of their special plants as possible before that move, along with some wonderful garden elements eg mirror, garden seating, pots etc. This could possibly be the reason why this garden looks so mature for its young age. A truly stunning garden and the accolades given during the 2015 Spring Garden Competition are well deserved - a pristinely kept garden with wonderful use of colour, shape, height, size, texture and foliages.

Our outing concluded with an excellent lunch at the Moonee Tavern. Thank you to the Program Committee - Pat, Sue and Jane for organising this terrific outing. Also congratulations to the CHGC members who opened their gardens for us to view - you should be very proud of your gardens, we just loved the visit too!

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Weeds - Lantana

Lantana could perhaps be described as being Australia's most debilitating invasive introduced weed. This shrub is native to Central and South America and readily grows into thickets. An ornamental garden plant, introduced into Australia around the 1840s, it quickly escaped domestic cultivation and within twenty (yes, 20) was established in the wild. By this time it had naturalised in the Sydney and Brisbane areas. This once-innocent garden plant has since escaped and thrived under the favourable tropical, sub-tropical and temperate conditions of eastern Australia.

Lantana was first declared noxious around 1920 and by the 1950s it had spread over more than 1600 kilometres of the eastern seaboard of Australia. Now within Australia, it has invaded at least 4 million hectacres.

Lantana occurs in most coastal and eastern escarpment areas from Narooma to Far North Queensland. It thrives in warm environments with high rainfall where the weed grows along forest edges, penetrates disturbed rainforest and invades open eucalypt woodlands and pastures. 

All forms of lantana are thought to be toxic, with the red flowering forms being the most dangerous. It is toxic to both animals and humans and can cause serious illness and death. All parts of the plant, particularly the green berries are poisonous if ingested, causing vomiting, diarrhoea, muscular weakness and respiratory distress. The plant material itself, is also a skin and eye irritant.

Germination can be year round but peaks after summer rains. Plants mature in one year, but they must complete one whole season before seeding. Vegetative spread can produce dense thickets. In warm and humid areas (like our Coffs Coast) lantana can flower and fruit almost year round, as long as soil moisture is maintained. A single plant can produce up to 12,000 fruit each year which are succulent, one-seeded drupe or berry about 6-8mm in diameter. These develop in clusters and consist of aggregate, fleshy segments that are green at first and then turn a shiny, dark purple-black when ripe. 

It can survive dry periods by dropping its leaves, but once there is a good rain event it will re-shoot from the base of the stem. Flowers are of variable colours, including red, yellow, orange, pink, purple and white, depending on type, maturity and location. 

Birds and other animals disperse seed. Stems will sprout when in contact with soil and seeds remain viable for 2-5 years!

Control - this is where you put the back brace on...... you can hand-pull and chip out roots or if that is not possible, cut and paint with 100% glyphosate. 

A thicket in the bush - these can be so dense they are completely impenetrable.

Monday, 18 January 2016

Harmony Haven

This is a two acre fantasy garden featuring a rose labyrinth, amethyst meditation cave, ponds and streams fulfilling the atmosphere of fantasy. It was created by just one woman who used her creativity to produce a beautiful space to assist in her fight of a serious illness. The amount of rock that has been carted on to the block is just amazing (no wonder she looks so fit..). The lovely deep, deep red volcanic soil of the Dorrigo Plateau makes for a wonderful foundation, which must have been a huge advantage in this garden's initial development.

There are some wonderful large trees giving some areas welcome shade.

Please note the size of the rocks that have been relocated to the garden, these have been used to edge the garden beds. 

This garden is approximately 731 metres above sea level. 

Being just 60kms from Coffs Coast it is amazing the difference in climatic conditions and plants that thrive at Harmoney Haven.

Great use of vibrant colour.

The pool reflecting the myriad of colours in this garden. 

With summer temperatures rarely getting into the 30's this garden can include some cold climate plants including weeping cherries/plums and conifers. 

All paving has been made onsite using a mold this paving leads into the amethyst meditation cave.

With an average rainfall of around 2,000mm conditions on the Plateau enable a diverse range of wonderful plants and flowers. 

Popping colour brings delight in many of the garden 'rooms'. 

This photo was included so someone could identify it please. 

There are so many stunning features and plants to delight, eg the stunning colour of what looks like a maple.