Time to prune and compost
MIAMI — U.S. scientists are planning to scale up deployment of laboratory-bred insects to battle invading plant species that threaten to throttle parts of Florida’s ecologically fragile Everglades wetlands.
The plant and seed-eating bugs, which include moths, mites and weevils, act as biological control agents — basically environmental gamekeepers — against the invaders.
They are to be produced in their hundreds of thousands at a new research laboratory planned jointly by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and the South Florida Water Management District.
— Reuters. PRUNING can be a tricky subject in the garden. If not done the right way or at the right time it is often still more beneficial to plant growth than no pruning at all. Pruning is done for several reasons; it is basically cutting back, cutting down or cutting out, but it is also to keep the plants in bounds. It is done at different seasons dependent on the plants, shrubs and trees needing this attention.
Around the suburbs at present the very large trees carrying big colourful blooms in shades of pink and lilac are the Kapok trees. These are giant forest trees and are not recommended for home or small townhouse gardens. Their invasive strong roots can cause considerable damage to plumbing and foundations.
Enjoy them where they offer themselves for viewing in many of the large and older gardens around the city.
This is as good a time as any to give the garden a generous layer of manure, compost or leaf mould. Many seasoned plants have been pulled up resulting in spaces around the planting areas and in the borders. The soil in these spaces needs to be well dug over and well broken down. Then the feeding of organic matter gives garden plants the necessary elements as it is absorbed into the soil, but plays no part in conditioning the soil as the organic material does. In nature, in woodlands and forests and in copses of trees this feeding material comes from the trees themselves. Seasons’ worth of leaf fall, fruit fall and blossom fall gather and slowly decompose with rain and dew and become valuable food for all that grows around. Surprisingly, there is no unpleasant smell from this decomposition and forest floors are associated with sweet smelling attributes.
At earlier times of home gardening it was every gardener’s pride to have a compost heap; heap was always the given name, but the compost making was done with care and in a proper manner. This produced barrow loads of healthy organic food for the garden. There was, however, also a very smelly method of making liquid manure for feeding plants. The unpleasant odour came from a sack of chicken manure placed in a large drum which was filled with water. To get the proper result, this needed to be stirred often and it was only the flies that found this smell interesting. This liquid manure diluted in water certainly made the plants grow.
A trip into town revealed the Greyling Street liquid ambers quite advanced in their beautiful glowing autumn colours. Regrettably the street is not fully lined with these giant trees as it once was; some of the “wow” factor has gone. Fortunately the Boom Street Jacarandas still give a wonderful “cathedral” feel as they meet in the sky above the road. Travel down from Peter Kerchhoff Street to Chief Albert Luthuli Street and enjoy this experience now while the trees glow in their autumn tinge. Do the same short trip in November especially with storm clouds above and enjoy the purple parade. Giant old trees are a gift and they deserve respect. •At Tanglewood Nursery, Hilton, a pruning demonstration will start at 10.30 am today. There is no charge. Visitors are asked to take folding chairs and sun hats. The talk will be held no matter the weather. All welcome. For further inquiries, phone 033 343 4203.
A Kapok tree in bloom.