Gar­den pest preven­tion starts now

The Tribune (NZ) - - Gardening - WALLY RICHARDS wal­lyjr@gar­de­news.co.nz

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.

PHOTOS: FAIR­FAX NZ

When it comes to curly ques­tions about curly leaf, codlin moth (both pic­tured) and psyl­lids, the an­swer is: At­ten­tion now re­sults in preven­tion later.

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