Sunday, 28 September 2014

Fruit Flies Need Not Apply

REAL WORLD GARDENER Wed. 5pm 2RRR 88.5fm Sydney, streaming live at and Across Australia on the Community Radio Network.
The complete CRN edition of RWG is available on , just click on 2RRR to find this week’s edition. The new theme is sung by Harry Hughes from his album Songs of the Garden. You can hear samples of the album from the website


with Steve Falcioni, General Manager of
This next topic in Plant Doctor has some of us squirming when we remember cutting open a fruit or vegetable to find wrigglers inside and the flesh actually quite smelly and rotten.
Sometimes you have a tell tale spot the size of a pin head on the outside of the fruit-usually on oranges, and sometimes when you touch the fruit, some of it’s firm but one half is quite soft and squishy.
At this point you’re dreading to cut it open and it gets to that point when you start dreading even cutting open alright looking fruit.
Let’s find out what can be done about this problem.

Fruit fly looks like a wasp with a pointy tail.
The female mates and lays eggs into any fruits-Lilly Pilly fruits, chillies, citrus anything at all.
The maggots wriggle out then drop to the ground to pupate.
Being a native insect the fruit fly can live in the bush then come into your garden when the season is right.

Pheremone lures are a good way of detecting whether or not you have the problem
However, the female only has to mate once or twice to then lay thousands of eggs, so to you need either exclusion netting or splash baits for the female fruit fly.
Exclusion netting is great if you have small trees that are manageable.

Remember, home made traps will attract a wide range of insects both good and bad and it's not what you really want.
If you have any questions or photos of fruit fly, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


This segment won’t be complete without mentioning them at least once every year, because there’s always so much to be said about them.
There’s books written about them, they are prone to all sorts of pests and diseases, but every year, we plant them hoping for that ultimate crop.
What are they ?

They’re tomatoes, or Lycopersicon esculentum.

Being in the Solanaceae family, they’re related to eggplants,capsicums, chillies and potatoes. Tomatoes are botanically a fruit, or to be even more accurate a berry, because they are pulpy and have edible seeds.
Other botanical fruits classified as vegetables include squash, cucumbers, green beans, corn kernels, eggplants, and peppers.
In Australia, tomatoes are one of the most popular vegetables, with potatoes being no.1
Why? Because we just lover our summer tomatoes that taste better than the store bought ones, and once you get the conditions right, they’re relatively easy to grow.

The tomato is native to South and Central America, and the first tomato was thought to bear a yellow fruit and grown by the Aztecs.

It’s thought that people were growing crops of tomatoes at least around 500 BC
In the mid 1500’s, tomatoes were only grown amongst flowers in Italy.
They certainly weren’t eaten.
As late as the 18th century, physicians thought tomatoes caused appendicitis, and stomach cancer from tomato skins sticking to the lining of your stomach.
Europeans then refused to eat tomatoes because they were thought to be poisonous, and no-one was volunteering to be the first.

Why do a lot of store bought tomatoes have little taste?

The answer is because it’s a result of breeding tomatoes which ripen uniformly red. This change occurred after discovery of a variety in the mid 20th century which ripened evenly, so was  then cross-bred  with just about every tomato variety, to produce attractive red fruit without the typical green ring surrounding the stem on uncross-bred varieties.
Before the introduction of this trait, tomatoes were able to produce more sugar during the process of ripening and were sweeter and tastier.

There’s a tomato for every type of climatic condition and generally they’re a warm season fruit even though we call them vegetables.
When to Sow
In temperate climates you can plant them until December, hopefully some of you started them in early September to get the jump on fruit flies.  
In sub-tropical and tropical areas, this week it’s your turn to win, and yes, you can plant tomatoes all year round.
In cool temperate districts you have from October until December.
Arid areas from August until March, so nearly all year.
Where to Grow
Tomatoes prefer full sun but if you live in very hot climates, you’ll get sun scald on your tomatoes, so afternoon shade of some sort is essential.
Growing tomatoes has to be in full sun at least 6 hours.
Tomato seeds can be planted into the ground as soon as the soil temperature reaches 200C.

For cool districts I recommend that you start your tomatoes off in punnets of some kind and place this in a plastic bag or mini-greenhouse.
Before your transplant your seedlings from the seed tray, and this applies to all seedlings, you need to harden them off.
That means taking them out of a protected environment and putting them into 50% shade for a few days.

TIP:When you plant your seedling, this is about the only plant I know that you pile the soil higher than it was in the pot-that way, it grows extra roots to support the plant.
At the same time, put in a tomato stake of some kind and sprinkle some Dolomite around the plant.

ANOTHER  good tip is to put some hydrated or fluffed up water crystals in the bottom of the planting hole, especially if in your district it’s very hot during the day, that it’s sometimes hard to keep the water up to them.

They actually need lots of water to prevent a problem called “blossom end” rot, when they get a black bottom. Which also means a lack of Calcium. But you put on the Dolomite didn’t you?.

Don’t crowd your tomato plants because they need good air circulation around them so that fungal diseases don’t take hold.

When your tomato plant has four trusses (or branches of flowers) nip out top of the plant. By this stage you should have plenty of fruits forming that need to grow and ripen.
You need to do this mainly because you want the plant to put all its energy into these potentially succulent fruits. And…you don’t want it growing taller than you tomato stake and flopping all over the place.
Keep the soil moist by regular watering and using a mulch of some kind.
Once the flowers have formed, you need to feed weekly with tomato fertiliser or a general fertiliser but add a side dressing of sulphate of potash.

Irregular watering or drying out of the soil or compost in very hot weather can result in the fruits splitting. The inside grows faster than the skin, splits and unless eaten quickly, disease very quickly enters the damaged area and the tomato disposed of.

Tomato feed is very high in potash. Be careful not to overfeed as this can lock up other elements in the soil / compost that the plants require.
HINT: tomato plants will only set fruit if the temperatures don’t drop below 210C.
Did you know that a tomato picked at first sign of colour and ripened at room temperature will be just as tasty as one left to fully mature on the vine?

VERY IMPORTANT: Prune off the lower leaves to allow more light, improve air-circulation and prevent the build-up of diseases.
For some listeners, fruit fly will be a problem. There are pheromone lures and preventative organic sprays and splash baits that contain Spinosad.
 I intend to trail fruit fly exclusion bags. As soon as the fruits appear, on they go.
First the good news, there have been studies done which show that eating tomatoes lowers the risk of some cancers. Possibly because of the chemical lycopene that is found in tomatoes and makes them red.
Cooked tomatoes are even better because the cell walls get broken down releasing something called carotinoids.
Eating tomatoes with a small amount of fat, like some olive oil in a salad, allows the lycopene part to absorb better.
Tomatoes are highly nutritious and sweet  because of natural sugars – sucrose and fructose.
If you ate only one tomato a day, you would get 40% of you daily requirements of Vitamin C and 20% of Vitamin A.
Now the bad news….there is anecdotal evidence that something called glykoalkaloids contribute to arthritis symptoms.



with landscape designer Jason Cornish
A good looking and beautifully trimmed hedge is a sight to behold, giving structure to the garden and setting off all the other plants.
A bad looking hedge is an eyesore, and draws your attention away from all the good looking plants you have in the garden.

But what can you do about those bad hedges, especially if they have no leaves down the bottom part of the hedge?
Let’s find out what this is all about.

Unlike Europe where you see them growing in a lot of the elegant gardens like Hidcote in the Cotswolds, where they  use Hornbeams and Linden trees, here in Australia, the climate is against us to those kind of hedges on stilts.
Plus we’re probably not that keen to do all that work to get them trained that way, and think of the tall ladders you might need to prune them?
Still, doing it the cheats way might give you a satisfactory look if you are wanting to grow something at the base of the hedge for a different look.


 with Karen Smith editor of Hort Journal
Grevilleas with large showy flowers are full of nectar and attract larger nectar feeding birds like lorikeets and honeyeaters and miner birds.
If you want to attract smaller birds into your garden, you’ll want grevillea flowers the size of this next plant, that cover the bush.
The smaller birds then can come into your garden without being bullied or frightened away by the larger more aggressive nectar feeders.

Let’s find out some more about this plant.

Grevillea rhyolitica is found in moist areas in forest and woodland in a the Deua National Park and surrounding areas in south-eastern New South Wales between 100 and 600 metres elevation.
No surprises then that the two cultivars are named Grevillea Deua Gold and Grevillea Deua Flame.

The leaves on some Grevilleas can be a bit prickly or rough to feel, but unless you’re brushing past them as you walk in the garden, it suits smaller birds as a means of shelter.
The other great thing about this Grevillea is that it might appeal to gardeners that aren’t normally attracted to Grevilleas.

On this plant, the leaves look like a general leaf shape-light green, elliptic and on the smaller side. 
It doesn’t have serrated leaves and its flower are a bit more ornamental, so it’s a little bit different an could even be used in cottage type gardens.
Being a member of the Proteaceae family, grevilleas are phosphorous sensitive.
That means don't use chook poo, or any other manures to fertilise these plants.

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