Cloeme a great plant bug catcher



Cleome are one of the best ‘‘catch plants’’ for at­tract­ing green vege bugs away from your beans and toma­toes. They are tall (around 1.5m), ro­bust flow­ers that don’t seem to be too badly af­fected by the bugs if you pick them off reg­u­larly. Their botan­i­cal name, Cleome spinosa, gives a warn­ing, so watch out for the prickly stems. The thorns on ma­ture stems can eas­ily pierce a gar­den­ing glove. As well as their bug pa­trol du­ties, cleomes are worth grow­ing for the pink, mauve or white flow­ers as they bloom for months – right through to late au­tumn. Sow seeds (from Kings Seeds) di­rectly the gar­den or in trays in spring. Grow in full sun or semi-shade. I plant mine close to­gether (25cm) and let them grow tall and slim at the back of the bor­der. You’ll get more flow­ers on stock­ier plants if they’re planted 50cm apart and you pinch out the grow­ing tips when the seedlings are 6-10cm tall.

The best time for hunt­ing green vege bugs is first thing in the morn­ing when they are slug­gish. As cold-blooded in­sects they need the heat of the sun in or­der to warm up enough to move quickly. Knock them into a jar of soapy wa­ter or stomp on them when they land on the ground.


I know flies have a use­ful role to play in the great circle of life, but I would rather they weren’t cir­cling round my kitchen. The first blowfly of sum­mer buzzed in last week so it’s time to re­fresh the fly traps. A fe­male blowfly can lay 150-200 eggs at a time and around 2,000 eggs over the course of her life­time. Hope­fully, dis­pos­ing of flies in early sum­mer will cut down the num­bers in the com­ing months. For the past two years I’ve used a McGre­gor’s Bye Bye Bugs Fly Trap from Bun­nings. The sup­plied bait is a smelly brew that at­tracts the flies but is non-toxic. The flies can get in the holes in the lid but can’t fly back out. They even­tu­ally die and fall into the liq­uid. The wa­ter level needs top­ping up when it dries out and the traps need to be emp­tied when they start to fill up. When the sup­plied bait ran out, I used a mix­ture of yeast, a lit­tle sugar and some warm wa­ter. Af­ter a cou­ple of days build­ing up a stink it worked just as well as the com­mer­cial prod­uct. Other ideas for bait in­clude a small piece of meat or rot­ting fruit, and dog or cat poo – if you have a par­tic­u­larly strong stom­ach! The base of the old trap was cracked but luck­ily the top fit­ted a jam jar so it’s been pressed into ser­vice for an­other year.

I’ve made a cou­ple of new DIY ver­sions too (pic­tured). Cut across a plas­tic fizzy drink bot­tle about one third of the way down from the top. Add the bait of your choice into the bot­tom sec­tion. In­vert the top. Use a hole punch or a heated metal skewer to make holes for a han­dle. Thread fine wire or string through the holes. Hang where flies tend to con­gre­gate – usu­ally in sunny, shel­tered spots – but where the smell won’t bother you or the neigh­bours. Make an­other trap to use in­side. Bait with red wine, fruit juice, ap­ple cider vine­gar or a piece of banana float­ing in wa­ter. Add a drop or two of de­ter­gent and place the trap by the fruit bowl. That cloud of fruit flies hov­er­ing over your ripen­ing fruit will be lured to their doom.


Grafted egg­plants are worth their weight in gold. They are a trop­i­cal plant and need 3-5 months of warm weather to pro­duce a de­cent crop. It’s too late to start egg­plants this sea­son (sow in Au­gust next year) but there are grafted plants in gar­den cen­tres now. Grafted plants, where a reg­u­lar egg­plant has been at­tached to a vig­or­ous root­stock, grow and fruit faster, mean­ing they can be grown in cli­mates where they’d oth­er­wise be mar­ginal. Although the plants are more ex­pen­sive, the har­vest is vastly bet­ter in quan­tity and qual­ity. Grow in the sun­ni­est, This col­umn is adapted from the weekly e-zine, get grow­ing, from New Zealand Gar­dener magazine. For gar­den­ing ad­vice de­liv­ered to your in­box ev­ery Fri­day, sign up for Get Grow­ing at: get­grow­ most shel­tered spot in the gar­den or plant in pots where soil will be warmer than in the gar­den. Keep well wa­tered. Egg­plants have large leaves that lose a great deal of mois­ture through tran­spi­ra­tion. If plants suf­fer from lack of wa­ter, fruit can turn bit­ter and the stressed plant will be more vul­ner­a­ble to pests. Feed weekly with tomato fer­tiliser and stake firmly to sup­port the fruit.


Last week­end in Auck­land was par­tic­u­larly windy – even in my usu­ally shel­tered gar­den. I rigged up a tem­po­rary shel­ter for young tomato and cu­cum­ber plants with clear poly­thene sheet­ing but this was only a tem­po­rary so­lu­tion for a par­tic­u­larly bad day. On a sunny day it could get too hot in­side and the fo­liage could burn where it is touch­ing the poly­thene. The most ef­fec­tive wind pro­tec­tion doesn’t trap the wind with a solid bar­rier – it slows it down and dis­perses it.

A slat­ted fence or a trel­lis with a climber grow­ing up it is a bet­ter long-term so­lu­tion and so are hedges. In a gar­den that is reg­u­larly blasted by wind, keep the soil about 20cm be­low the top of raised beds. The bed it­self pro­vides pro­tec­tion for plants while they’re es­tab­lish­ing.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.