Mod­ern tech­nol­ogy a gar­den aid

The Horowhenua Mail - - CONVERSATIONS -


If you have a smart phone, be part of this ci­ti­zen science project, map­ping po­ten­tial host plants and mon­i­tor­ing them pe­ri­od­i­cally for signs of the dis­ease myr­tle rust. Down­load the Myr­tle Rust Re­porter app (avail­able on iPhone and An­droid) and record a dozen po­ten­tial host plants in your com­mu­nity (there’s a list in the app but po­hutukawa, ra­ma­rama, north­ern and south­ern rata and manuka are all at risk). In­spect these plants reg­u­larly for any of the tell­tale yel­low spores on new growth. If you find any, don’t touch, but take a photo, sub­mit it through the app and then call MPI on 0800 809966. The biose­cu­rity of­fi­cer on the phone will be able to see and as­sess the photo you sent. ‘‘New Zealand is a big place and myr­tle rust has tiny lit­tle spores, so we need to make sure we cover as much of the coun­try as pos­si­ble,’’ says en­to­mol­o­gist Dr Steve Paw­son who’s part of the team be­hind the ini­tia­tive. - Jo McCar­roll


Ive been chuffed that my moth orchids (Pha­laenop­sis) re­bloom re­li­ably but it turns out there’s more I should be do­ing for even bet­ter re­sults. I use Orchid Tucker from Tucker’s Orchid Nurs­ery to feed my orchids but have trou­ble dis­solv­ing it, so when I spot­ted Ross and Su­san Tucker’s stand (above) at the NZ Flower & Gar­den Show, I asked for help. Su­san rec­om­mends adding 1 tea­spoon Orchid Tucker to 5 litres of hot wa­ter and let­ting it stand overnight or for a few days un­til it’s all dis­solved. There are three sorts of Orchid Tucker. Moth Orchid Tucker can be used all year round. It has high lev­els of potas­sium which pro­mote flow­er­ing. Ross Tucker says it’s great for toma­toes too. For den­dro­bi­ums and cym­bid­i­ums use Grow­ing Orchid Tucker from Oc­to­ber or Novem­ber, then in Jan­uary or Fe­bru­ary change to Flow­er­ing Orchid Tucker be­cause that’s when the plants start mak­ing the flow­ers that will bloom later in the year. At their NZ Flower & Gar­den Show stand the Tuck­ers had a glo­ri­ous dis­play of moth orchids in so many colours and sizes with all sorts of pat­terns. Ross says it’s a shame that there are usu­ally only white ones and maybe one other va­ri­ety on of­fer at florists when there are so many more avail­able. The Tuck­ers now grow their moth orchids in sphag­num moss rather than bark. The moth orchid (pic­tured above) is planted in a glass ter­rar­ium with a layer of stones be­neath the moss hold­ing the orchid roots. The ar­range­ment is topped off with the Span­ish moss til­land­sia. Ross says it’s eas­ier to tell when they need wa­ter­ing just by stick­ing a fin­ger into the moss, which should be keep moist. Over sum­mer, orchids in bark may need wa­ter­ing ev­ery sec­ond day or ev­ery two to three weeks over win­ter. I didn’t like to con­fess that I’ve been so con­cerned about over wa­ter­ing that I’m far more stingy than that. I re­solved to race home and re­pot (above) my col­lec­tion of res­cue orchids (saved when they’re aban­doned once their flow­ers are fin­ished). Bar­bara Smith


Any gar­den groom­ing done now will set you up for a more re­laxed time dur­ing Christ­mas and New Year en­ter­tain­ing. Some jobs like ma­jor weed purges are best done a week or so be­fore party time. Gar­den beds look a bit bare and tram­pled af­ter se­ri­ous weed­ing and need time to fill out again. Wa­ter thor­oughly and mulch thickly. Not only does it look good, you’ll also help the gar­den beds to look af­ter them­selves when you go away. Trim hedges lightly to main­tain a crisp look. Mow the lawn (on the high­est set­ting at this time of year) and neaten the edges. Sweep the paths and scrub or wa­ter blast if needed. Wash the out­side of the house, es­pe­cially any cob­webs un­der the eaves and clean the win­dows. Re­mem­ber to give the bird­bath a clean too. Cast a crit­i­cal eye over the gar­den work­ing area / shed / dump­ing ground. Could it do with a tidy up and a toss out? Get rid of


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 any places wa­ter can col­lect and stag­nate as that’s where mos­qui­toes breed. Stay on top of the wa­ter­ing – pay­ing ex­tra at­ten­tion to con­tain­ers. Put up outdoor lights ev­ery­where. So­lar bud lights are cheap and easy to in­stall as there’s no has­sle with power points. Choose from long straight strings or multi-branched sets for trees and per­go­las. Keep dead­head­ing roses, an­nu­als and peren­ni­als. It’s amaz­ing how reg­u­lar groom­ing fresh­ens the look of the gar­den, plus you’ll stim­u­late an­other flush of flow­ers. Fill any gaps with pot­ted colour. - Bar­bara Smith

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