Garden pest prevention starts now
Iam often asked about existing problems that are too late to prevent. Unless you are onto it, you will miss the vital times when your efforts will make a difference for the season.
So, now to some seasonal preventative medicine.
Curly leaf is a stone fruit disease that mainly affects nectarines and peaches.
The spores from the previous season are sitting waiting for leaves to form and the right conditions. Unless you intervene, any damage done last spring will lead to even more damage this spring. If the damage is severe enough, you will not only lose the crop, you can also lose the tree.
The trees and the ground under them should be sprayed with lime sulphur now. Leave for about two weeks and spray again with potassium permanganate at 3⁄ of a teaspoon into a litre of
4 water with 3 tablespoons of Ocean Solids dissolved, to which add a further 10 litres of water. Spray the whole tree and drench the soil beneath from trunk to beyond the drip line to kill disease spores on the tree and in the soil around it.
Try scattering Ocean Solids under the trees before they start to move in spring and repeating whenever any damage starts to appear on the foliage. It’s likely the sodium chloride neutralises the spores as well as increasing the mineral uptake of the tree.
A traditional control method is to spray the tree once the leaves start to appear. This should be done every 7 to 10 days with Wally’s Liquid Copper and Raingard. The idea is to keep a film of copper over the leaves as they grow that will kill the spores when they land. This spray programme carries on for about two months. The Raingard is important because without it the copper washes off in rain and that is when the disease spores strike. Once a good number of damagefree leaves have appeared, try spraying under and over the leaves with Vaporgard. The film also provides a barrier to the spores and will assist the tree to produce more energy from sunlight, and so boost the crop.
Codlin moth is a pest that spoils apples, walnuts and sometimes pears. At this time they are in cocoons pupating, waiting for the right time to emerge to mate, lay their eggs and damage your apples. Where they are hiding is in nooks and crannies on the tree, but mainly in the soil beneath the tree.
If you have chickens, net off the area under the tree, rake the soil and put your hens in there to gobble up any cocoons they scratch out. Failing that, try drenching the area with Wally’s 3 in 1 for Lawns. The eucalyptus and tea tree oils in the product takes out soil insects and hopefully the cocoons as well.
At the end of July, sprinkle Wally’s Neem Tree Granules under the tree from trunk to drip line. The scent of the granules breaking down prevents emerging moths from detecting the apple tree above them. The longer they are confused on the ground, the more likely they are to be bird tucker. The pests won’t emerge until the apples have set on the tree after flowering and the weather conditions are congenial. Once flowering has finished, put treacle in a can and hang it in an onion bag from the tree. This will attract the male moths, and by monitoring the trap you will know when they are on the wing. Then start spraying the apples – not the tree – with Wally’s Neem Tree Oil and Raingard every 10 to 14 days, so the fruit has a coating of oil when the eggs hatch and the grubs take their first bite. Stop spraying when activity in your trap stops.
An alternative is to use a single layer of crop cover taped on at the end of a branch and held on the fruiting branches by clothes pegs. Not only does this prevent codlin moth damage, it also keeps birds from pecking the fruit.
Psyllids attack potatoes, tomatoes, tamarillos and some other plants, so ideally plant seed potatoes as soon as possible. Protect them from frost by mounding up over foliage, then use crop cover over hoops. Harvest about Labour Weekend or as soon as mature. In early and out as soon as mature is an easy solution. For late plantings, cover the crop with quarantine cloth to prevent psyllids getting in. Sprays of neem tree oil and diatomaceous earth help with tomatoes and other plants, and I amlooking at a further possibility that I will talk about nearer planting time.
When it comes to curly questions about curly leaf, codlin moth (both pictured) and psyllids, the answer is: Attention now results in prevention later.