Thursday, 28 March 2013

Solving Gardening Pest and Fungal Problems

REAL WORLD GARDENER Wed. 5pm 2RRR 88.5fm Sydney, streaming live at and Across Australia on the Community Radio Network.
Real World Gardener is funded by CBF, Community Broadcasting Foundation.
The complete CRN edition of RWG is available on , just click on 2RRR to find this week’s edition.

How’s your garden doing. Have the pests been taking over your garden because of the high the heat and humidity?
If you have a pest explosion in your garden, and you want to deal with it organically there’s a new horticultural oil out on the market that contains something called HIPPO

When plants are under pest attack they release organic volatiles into the air which act as SOS messages to beneficial insects. These volatiles are known as Herbivore Induced Plant Protection Volatiles/Odours (HIPPO).
Beneficial insects are ladybeetles, lacewings, hoverflies and parasitoids such as Parasitic Wasps are attracted this this odour.
You probably want to know what pests can you use this new oil on?
Pretty much the same pest you would use ordinary horticultural oil to control.
How about aphids, mites, whitefly, scale and citrus leafminer for a start?
If you’re wondering, like I did, is there enough food in the garden to keep the good bugs to hanging around?
Food is obviously the main factor for keeping beneficials in the garden and if there isn’t enough then they will fly off again.
You as a gardener can do is plant plenty of long flowering plants which product lots of nectar and pollen.  These act as backup food sources for many beneficials (or for certain stages of beneficials like adult hoverflies which need them). 

Anything in the daisy family is good, white alyssum (has more nectar than the coloured varieties), Lamiaceae or the mint family, and Carrot or Parsley or Apiaceae family.
One of the reasons I let my Parsley and Angelica, flower and set seed.
Queen Anne’s lace and Anise Hyssop is also in the carrot family.
Oh, and stop using those long acting systemic pesticides like Confidor. They kill off the good guys as well as the bad.

eco Oil  is 100% plant oils and is now enhanced with HIPPO. Available from garden centres and

Wildlife in Focus

with ecologist Sue Stevens
Did you know that Australia has native pigeons? Not all the pigeons you see come from oversees, nor do they congregate eating areas and create a mess on the pavement. Some pigeons, are extremely well behaved, and it turns out, are native to Australia.
Let’s find out about one that’s probably visited your area recently.

The crested pigeon is only one of two pigeons endemic to Australia with an erect crest. As Sue mentioned, it’s usually not far from water because it needs to drink each day. You’re likely to see it quite a bit in the urban environment, on reserves, golf courses, gardens, and sports grounds as well as pastoral areas. I’m sure I heard the whoo- whoo of the crested pigeon in my garden only yesterday, and sounding exactly like the call you heard. It took off with that familiar whistling sound before I got to see it.
We’d love to see photos of the crested pigeon or any birds you’ve got visiting your garden, just send them in to. or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675, and I’ll post a CD in return.

Vegetable Heroes

Do you have a problem with fungus in your garden?
So, you’re looking at your spinach and you see holes in the leaves, but they’re all uniform and perfectly formed, right?
What insect does that?
 Or, are the stems or your Silverbeet have an ugly blackish brown stain down the middle of them?
Perhaps the leaves have got that rusty look, and definitely look some-one had a go with a blow torch?
Wait, have your cucumber leaves gone all white and crispy, then start turning brown and collapse in a heap in the veggie bed?
You probably have read or heard the advice that the most important things you can do to prevent fungal problems is to avoid overwatering, overhead watering and excessive fertilizing and keep your garden free of debris.
O.K. what about some of us that had all that rain?
Or you might’ve heard that you need to mulch well and avoid watering the leaves or splashing soil borne particles on the leaves.
One things for sure, you can water or fertilise away the problem.
Firstly what is this fungus thing anyway?  Fungus are structures which produce spores. Diseasecausing fungi penetrate the plant for food during their growth stage, then produce spores which can, in turn, produce new fungus.
The fungus feeds of your plants because not containing chlorophyll, it can’t make it’s own food.
There are two main types of spores-
(a) Short-lived spores which quickly produce new fungus to grow and spread through plants while there is plenty of food. These spores allow a fungal disease to spread rapidly during the growing season.
(b)Long-lived spores which are very hardy and allow a disease to carry over during periods of stress, for example when there is no food.
So what does fungus love.
Which fungus shall I start with. How about powdery mildew?
A fungal disease around a lot in spring and autumn when days are warm and nights are cool.
Powdery mildew is a white or grayish powdery/mouldy growth that you see on the leaves and new shoots. The leaves look deformed, and will always start to collapse, particularly on the cucurbit family, live Pumpkin, and cucumbers.
The leaves are never going to return to a normal appearance, so getting rid of them will help to stop the spreading of fungal spores.
Yes, that includes the ones that have fallen into a crumbled mess in the veggie bed.
The next fungal problem I’m going to mention appeared on my spinach this year. That is Fungal leaf spot.
Having said that, I’ve had several good months of harvesting spinach and silverbeet, so I can’t complain.
  • There are many types of leaf spot diseases that can affect beetroot, broad beans, carrots celery, peas, potatoes (early blight) silverbeet and tomatoes (targetspot).
  • Sometimes the leaf spots cause only slight damage, but other times they practically destroy the leaves of the plant in question.

How Do I Fix This?
  • Basically, if you’ve already got it, you can’t because as I mentioned, the leaves won’t return to normal, but you can stop the spread to other new leaves and other plants in the garden.
  • All of these above symptoms signal fungal problems in the garden, a lot of which can be fixed with physical things like improving air circulation around the plants.
  • You can also dig the problem leaves into the soil since sexual spores of the fungus won’t develop on buried leaves.
  • In all cases, fungal problems can be treated organically
  • Spray with a good compost tea
  •  Or secondly, try spraying with bi-carbonate of soda (sodium bicarbonate) because it will also kill powdery mildew.
  • To make mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda, 2 ½ tablespoons of vegetable oil with 4 litres of water.
  • TIP: The sodium in the baking soda will combine with chlorine in your water supply to form table salt (sodium chloride). A better choice is potassium bicarbonate where the potassium becomes a plant nutrient.
  • eco fungicide  and eco Oil, are available from garden centres that stock organic pest and disease control. For stockists

Design Elements

with Landscape Designer Louise McDaid
This month, Design elements is still fixing your garden design problems, but we’re looking at the different amounts of light that you have in the garden.
To some gardeners this can be a problem because if you’ve got too much sun or not enough sun, you mightn’t be able to grow the plants that you like the best.
But all is not lost.
Let’s find out what can help if you have too much sun, particularly western sun, in your garden?

Western sun is very drying and as Louise said, the easiest thing to do is to plant a tree. Not only are you helping solve the problem in your garden, you’re also providing habitat for the birds, reptiles and insects to shelter on those hot, dry days. There’s been a lot of recorded bird and animal deaths over the last summer because of the heat, and this is the best thing that you as a gardener can do to help wildlife that visits your garden.
There were lots of excellent tips with Louise

Plant of the Week:


Plants indoors improve concentration, absorb carbon dioxide, and generally rest and relax you.Some indoor plants have been around for such a long time that you might’ve thought they were of no consequence.But these plants have survived for good reasons.

So if you’ve haven’t had any success with indoor plants, you’ve given up on African Violets,, the Peace Lilly keeps giving you yellow and brown leaves, or the Philodendron just up and went to God.
Now’s the time to bring that Apsidistra into the house, and clear the air.
All Aspidistra varieties come from Japan, Taiwan, China, Vietnam and the Eastern Himalayas. The variety elatior is the one most used in culture, once having been on many of the internal window sills of Europe.
Aspidistra is no ordinary indoor plant. In Victorian England it was a sign that you’d made it to the middle classes if you had one and George Orwell's novel Keep the Aspidistra Flying, featured it.

Aspidistra was also  immune to the effects of gas used for lighting in the Victorian era (other plants and flowers withered or yellowed), which might account for its popularity.

Aspidistra was the codename (inspired by the above song) of a very powerful British radio transmitter used for propaganda and deception purposes against Nazi Germany during World War II.

What is an Aspidistra?
Aspidistra are rhizomatous, evergreen perennials with upright, leathery, elliptic or lance-shaped leaves and inconspicuous brownish flowers borne on the rhizome
Aspidsitra elatior is the all over green leaved species that grows to 60cm, with glossy dark green, leathery, lance-shaped leaves and very tiny dull brownish-cream flowers usually at soil level in early summer.
How to grow Aspidistra:
Grow it part or full shade, in well-drained  moist soil.
It can take any pH and any type of soil if you have a climate to grow it outdoors.

Aspidistra suits patios, pots and is low maintenance.

If you want more of this plant just divide it up when it gets to a good size.
  • Apply diluted liquid fertilizer regularly in spring to autumn for the healthiest plants.
  • In gardens, shade is necessary.
  • Mulch when planting and fertilise with a slow release during the warmer months of the year.
  • It will do well as a shady foliage ground cover under trees where it thrives once established without watering except in extremely dry times.
  • Over-watering usually results in death.
  • Indoor plants if too dry can get mealybugs, scale insects and spider mite.
  • Treat with eco Oil.
  • There’s a NEW ASPIDISTRA  called Shooting Stars from for stockists.
  • If you want to improve your plant-life balance and have one of these for your desk in the office or at home, this is a carefree plant.
  • Aspidistra“shooting stars”.
  • Shooting Stars is new to commercial culture in the west but well known in Japan.
  • Shooting stars still has the green leaf but has distinctive white spots.
  • Cut foliage polishes up well and is long lived in floral arrangements.

1 comment:

  1. If you have a pest explosion in your garden, and you want to deal with it organically there’s a new....berry plants