PLANT DOCTORHas anyone experienced grasshoppers eating the lot in their garden?
|Long Horned Grasshopper in Bromeliad photo M Cannon|
Some gardeners have discovered that the best chemical-free method for getting rid of grasshoppers is to simply take off their thongs and smack the little blighters.
If you were to follow this plan of attack you’d be at it 24/7 and would end up demolishing every plant in your garden and you’d have to be fast!
Is there a way to get rid of them without nasty chemicals?
Let’s find out ….I'm talking with General Manager Steve Falcioni from www.ecoorganicgarden.com.au
The eggs pupate in bare patches of soil, sometime for years, then hatch out when the rain and warm weather arrives.
So many grasshoppers eating tomato leaves and flowers and indeed most plants' every morning-even your orchids!
You can let your chickens into the veggie patch to try and curb the infestation, but grasshoppers can jump very high, either into or out of that same patch.
But there’s no need to go out on a killing spree because the grasshoppers will beat you every time.
Go for that neem oil.
If you have any questions about your grasshoppers or a photo, send it in to firstname.lastname@example.org or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.
VEGETABLE HEROESToday’s vegetable hero is cucumber or Cucumis sativus
Take, Julius Ceasar, he ate them everyday, - and Cleopatra, thought cucumber pickles helped her skin complexion, and other pickle lovers included George Washington and Queen Elizabeth 1.
Would you have thought that Cucumbers are one of the world’s favourite vegetables?
I would’ve said the tomato, but there you go.
|Lunch box sized cucumbers. photo M Cannon|
In cool zones, they are best in full sun.
For areas with hot summers, shade is better for your cucumbers.
TIP:Did you know that you can actually grow cucumbers in about 30% – 50 % shade in places where the air is warm?
A simple shade covering, temporary or something more permanent will protect the plants from the harsh sun as well as lessening the risk of scarring the fruit, (it might have the added benefit of protecting your plants from pests too).
|Cucumber vine photo M Cannon|
Fences and trellis do fine as do wire supports.
In fact, growing up a trellis would be a great way to avoid all the mildews and moulds that cucumbers are prone to in still humid weather.
If you like to grow sweet corn then plant your cucumbers amongst them so they can climb up the corn stalks- a good way to make the most of the space in your veggie bed.
|Cucumber flowers. photo M Cannon|
Just like zucchinis, cucumbers have separate male and female flowers. Male flowers come out at first, but don’t worry too much because the female flowers will arrive soon after.
Cucumbers in Pots
There’s also a number of dwarf varieties if you’d like to grow your cucumbers in pots.
Try Mini White- one of the most popular. Grow it for yourself and see why. The 10cm long fruit and is best picked when young. Gives you lots of fruit per plant and it’s burpless
Or you could try Cucumber Mini Muncher as well.
You’ll need to go to www.diggers.com.au , or if you’re in Adelaide, go to the shop in the Botanic Gardens.
Add in plenty of organic compost and fertilisers like chook poo or cow manure.
I’ve seen an idea where you make mini mounds, wet the soil first and then drop in 4 -5 seeds into the top of each mound.
Mulch the mounds so they don’t dry out but not too much or you’ll be wondering why nothing is germinating, that’s because the seed has rotted away.
Cucumbers, like many vines, are prone to fungal infections.
There are some types of cucumbers that resist this disease for a time anyway.
You can also try a natural fungicide. 1 part whole milk to 10 parts water, and spray in the cool of the day.
Prevention is much better than cure so; use a clean soft mulch like sugar-cane or straw, drip irrigation instead of overhead watering preferably early in the morning, not crowding plants to get good air movement, and a trellis or support.
There’s seems to be a few theories for bitterness in cucumbers
One theory is that the bitterness is caused early in the plant’s development by terpenoid compounds that give a bitter flavour to the entire plant.
Usually the bitterness accumulates at the stem and below the surface of the skin of the cucumber.
According to this theory it’s a genetic problem.
I’ve always thought it to be the result of Cucurbitacin.
Found in most cucumber plants, Cucurbitacin causes fruit to taste bitter.
Cucurbitacin levels increase when a plant is under stress, and can make the fruit taste really bitter.
Anyway, it proves that you shouldn’t stress out your cucumbers!
By the way, if you do get a bitter cucumber, peel it and cut of the ends by about 2.5cm, that’s where the bitterness concentrated.
|photo M Cannon|
|English potager garden photo M. Cannon|
PLANT OF THE WEEKGloxinia speciosa or Gloxinia
You think to yourself, “ I’ll get that” as a reward for something you’ve done like finishing a horticulture, gardening or floristry course or a difficult task. Perhaps even after losing some weight.
If you find the right location, they last for years and years.
The plants commonly known as Gloxinias, or perhaps florist Gloxinias, are mostly varieties of one species, Sinningia speciosa, which come from Brazil.
|Gloxinia photo M Cannon|
When that happens, your plant is telling you it’s time to rest.
Reduce watering to about half the usual amount and remove dead flower stems.
The really great news is that once you have a mature gloxinia plant, it can live for years. There’s the belief that if you can successfully grow African violets, you can probably grow gloxinias. They both are members of the Gesneriaceae family. The care of the two species is similar, other than the gloxinia's required periods of dormancy.
Funnily enough I can grow my Gloxinia outdoors under a peach tree in a pot, but can’t do that with my African violets.