Tick off tasks for tip top fruit

The Leader (Tasman) - - GARDENING - SHERYN CLOTHIER

1: KICK OUT CODDLING

My pipfruit are in full blos­som, which means I need to arm up against the codling moth. I am pretty re­laxed in my or­chard, with a ‘live and let live’ at­ti­tude to most and al­low­ing na­ture to bal­ance it­self out, but codling is the ex­cep­tion. Though we have re­leased sev­eral preda­tors in New Zealand, none are pro­lific enough (yet) in my area to con­trol it, and the codling mul­ti­plied and mul­ti­plied un­til there was barely a sin­gle ap­ple with­out the tell­tale brown hole and rot­ten core. It was then I de­clared war.

I tried ev­ery folk tale and rem­edy short of chem­i­cals, and now count the dam­age in one bucket. My suc­cess­ful strat­egy? I spray with a bi­o­log­i­cal in­sec­ti­cide at 80% of petal fall. I use one called Madex 3 which con­tains a nat­u­ral pathogen of the codling moth. Less spe­cific but more eco­nom­i­cal for a tree or two, is a cater­pil­lar bio­con­trol from Ki­wicare con­tain­ing Bacil­lus thuringien­sis, a soil-dwelling bac­te­ria that kills a range of cater­pil­lars, in­clud­ing (although it is not listed on the packet) the codling moth.

2: TREAT YOUR CITRUS RIGHT

Packed with vi­ta­min C, citrus is my win­ter main­stay. Juicy navel is the tasti­est of my fruits, even though Waikato is bor­der­line cool for citrus. I munch on man­darins in au­tumn, juice the masses of tan­ge­los and blood or­anges, have grape­fruit break­fast cock­tails and cook with masses of limes and lemons. And now is the time to show my ap­pre­ci­a­tion. All dropped fruit is col­lected up. Bugs and dis­ease can flour­ish in for­got­ten fruit so it is re­moved and de­stroyed.

I have very oblig­ing cows who cher­ish this task and I am sure noth­ing will sur­vive their four stom­achs.

Weeds are cleared to pro­mote air­flow and re­move root com­pe­ti­tion and a good dose of com­post given to each tree. I note what needs prun­ing, but I won’t prune yet as I don’t want to open any wood up un­til af­ter the lemon tree borer moth stops fly­ing in late sum­mer.

3: BERRY HOLEY STRAWBERRIES

I dis­cov­ered I should have done this weeks ago when last week I threw a net over my strawberries and found peck holes all through them. My old straw­berry patch was in a cor­ru­gated iron ‘tree’ and didn’t need net­ting as the berries hung down away from any perch – but it was hard to feed and re­plant them, and they only pro­duced enough for a tasty treat. My new strawberries were some plants my aunty had left over that I popped in un­der the ba­nana trees. They went wild and mul­ti­plied a thou­sand-fold last year, but pro­duced dis­ap­point­ingly few fruit. As it is a new bed with lots of ni­troge­nous com­post, I’ve spent the win­ter feed­ing them ash from the fire to boost potas­sium lev­els and have been re­warded with a pro­fu­sion of blos­som. I have poked half hoops of alka­thene pipe in the ground around them and thrown bird net­ting over the lot. Hope­fully we will have straw­berry jam this year.

4: GIVE YOUR COM­POST A SPRING CLEAN

I am not a big one for com­post piles. Weeds are used in situ as mulch and com­post made in place wher­ever pos­si­ble but I do have two bins to take the ex­cess, and now is the time to empty out the first. A: Be­cause ev­ery­thing is grow­ing and needs a nu­tri­ent fix and B: Be­cause ev­ery­thing is grow­ing and needs weed­ing out and throw­ing some­where.

Now the nights are get­ting warmer it is fi­nally time to get the sum­mer veges in. A lo­cal school sold seedlings as a fundraiser this year – what a great idea! Much bet­ter than the usual of­fer­ing of choco­lates or pies. I have some very healthy look­ing zuc­chi­nis, cap­sicums and egg­plants (the veges I don’t bother grow­ing from seed). I’ve planted th­ese un­der 2-litre plas­tic-bot­tle cloches for an ex­tra snug start.

6. SALAD TO LAST THE EN­TIRE SUM­MER

I sow mesclun and rocket about ev­ery eight weeks from now un­til the end of sum­mer. They are the cut-and- come-again base for daily sal­ads.

I pre­pare a bed in my raised gar­den by sift­ing the top soil through an old car grille, then I sprin­kle the seeds over with an old kitchen sieve, pat them down firmly (don’t cover) and water reg­u­larly.

The joy of th­ese is that they are

GET GROW­ING

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: get­grow­ing.co.nz almost in­stant, pop­ping up and ready to har­vest within a month at this time of year. Cut the leaves straight into your salad bowl once they are about 5cm high, them con­tinue cut­ting them to keep them young and fresh.

Let a patch go to flower and set seed (which usu­ally hap­pens while you away on hol­i­day any­way) so you have an am­ple sup­ply of free seeds. Just make sure you la­bel the plants so you know which seed is what as they all look rather sim­i­lar when ready to har­vest.

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