Han­dling sea­sonal tran­si­tion

The Tribune (NZ) - - AL FRESCO - WALLY RICHARDS

Day­light sav­ing is over mean­ing less time af­ter work to do things in the gar­den be­fore dusk. It is only our clocks that change; the clock that guides our plants keeps rolling on, and plants be­gan adapt­ing to the less hours of day­light a while back.

De­cid­u­ous plants have started to show signs of leaf colour change and drop­ping, as well as au­tumn dis­eases such as pow­dery mildew on sus­cep­ti­ble fo­liage.

For those de­cid­u­ous plants and an­nu­als fin­ish­ing for the sea­son there is lit­tle point in try­ing to put the brakes on na­ture by us­ing re­me­dial sprays.

Un­less you are try­ing to squeeze out a bit more time on pump­kins, cu­cum­bers and zuc­chini so you have a few more ma­ture fruit to har­vest.

Spray­ing the fo­liage with Wallys Neem Tree Oil cleans off the mildew and al­lows the leaves to func­tion fully, gain­ing en­ergy from the sun to ripen the last fruit.

An al­ter­na­tive is to mix a ta­ble­spoon of bak­ing soda into a litre of warm wa­ter with one ml of Rain­gard and spray that.

Those con­cerned that dis­eases are creat­ing spores that lie dor­mant to at­tack plants in the spring, can use potas­sium per­man­ganate (Condys crystals) at 1⁄

4 tea­spoon per litre of wa­ter to spray plants and the soil be­neath.

Re­peat­ing this in­ex­pen­sive treat­ment dur­ing the win­ter and spring can make a big dif­fer­ence to dis­eases af­fect­ing roses and other plants in the new sea­son.

Potas­sium per­man­ganate is avail­able from many gar­den­ing out­lets and by mail or­der.

There’s a plant called cat grass that an­i­mals, in­clud­ing cats and dogs, love for their di­ges­tion and health.

Avail­able from some re­tail gar­den shops or as seeds, it is im­por­tant to have fresh grass for cats (dogs like it too) to nib­ble on or to eat in larger amounts so the an­i­mal can bring up fur balls.

Keep cat grass healthy by wa­ter­ing it with Magic Botanic Liq­uid ev­ery two weeks for the ex­tra min­er­als and el­e­ments.

Even if your cat or dog has ac­cess to out­door grasses, it still is a good healthy prin­ci­ple to have some cat grass by your back door to for them to nib­ble on.

Avoid us­ing bee killing in­sec­ti­cides such as the neon­i­coti­noid, Con­fi­dor, and en­sure you have plenty of bee-friendly nec­tar and pollen rich plants grow­ing in your gar­den. Overseas re­search has con­cluded that more bee vis­its dur­ing the main flow­er­ing sea­son means sig­nif­i­cantly higher crop yields.

It’s time, now that the soil has cooled down and a bit of rain has started to hap­pen, to safely plant spring bulbs.

Bone flour used to be the spe­cial food to use with bulbs, but that’s hard to come by now. In­stead, use a lit­tle gyp­sum and some blood & bone, and for pro­tec­tion against soil in­sects dam­ag­ing the bulbs, ap­ply Wally’s Neem Tree Gran­ules.

Mois­ture means weed seeds ger­mi­nat­ing. Slice them off at soil level while they are small and easy to deal to.

PHOTO: FAIRFAX NZ

Cur­cu­bits, like this zuchinni are par­tic­u­larly sus­cep­ti­ble to pow­dery mildew, which re­stricts the plant’s en­ergy ab­sorp­tion ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

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