Saturday, 26 August 2017

Mystery of Insects, One Potato, Two Potatoes and a Claret Ash.

This week's radio show:  Where do insects go in winter in Plant Doctor? It’s not too late to plant these potato tubers in Vegetable Heroes; and a  fabulous shade tree in Plant of the Week. 


Overwintering Insects-where do they all go?
Have you ever thought what happens to insects in winter?
In particular insect pests, we don’t see as many pests but come Spring, they seem to emerge in their hundreds from somewhere.
How are they managing to hang on, especially in those districts where temperatures fall below zero.
You’ll be surprised to find out the methods that insects use .
So let’s find out.
I'm talking with Steve Falcioni from

Insects seem to manage to hang on in one form or and how they do this seems to vary quite a bit because they’re so adaptive
Codling moth larvae
Some of the methods we talked about that insects use to get by in the colder months were:
1. Lay eggs that stay dormant until warmer weather and longer daylength occurs.
2. Juvenile stages hide in cracks of branches, twists of leaves, under rocks and find crevices to stay warm.
3.Pupate over winter like the Codling Moth.
4. Go deeper into the soil to stay warm, like the Curl Grub.
5.Hibernate over winter just as the ladybird does.
Did you know ladybirds go off a pheremone to signal other ladybirds to form a huddle when hibernating?

TIP: Removing weeds during winter also removes hiding spots for pests like mealybug and aphids.
Did you know that the shorter daylight lengths of Autumn trigger insects to enter something called diapause.

What’s that?
Well, diapause (and also the definition of an evening spent watching TV) is "an inactive state of arrested development."
Diapause insects sees their metabolic rate drop to one tenth of what it is normally so it can use stored body fat to survive winter.

If you have any questions about insects, why not email us or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


Solanum tuberosum

Did you know that potatoes were the first vegetable to be grown in space?
It’s always interesting to find out where our vegetables started and how they became popular.

Farmers in the Andes Mountains of South America first discovered the potato 7,000 years ago
They had it to themselves until the mid-1500’s when the Spanish Conquistadors invaded Peru.
In Spain, when it did arrive, it was thought of food for the underclasses, or feeding hospital inmates.
Around 1780 the people of Ireland adopted the potato as a food crop because potatoes contain most of the vitamins you need to survive.

The potato is a member of the nightshade or Solanaceae family and its leaves are poisonous.

Green Potatoes are Bad For You.
Here’s something to think about when storing your potatoes.
A potato left too long in the light will begin to turn green.
The green skin contains a substance called solanine which can cause the potato to taste bitter and green potatoes can upset the stomach, so don’t try them.

How to grow potatoes
Always grow potatoes from Certified Seed Potatoes from reputable suppliers.
Yes it is possible to simply buy some from a specialist green grocer and keep them for seed, or use leftover potato peelings.
What’s wrong with that?
You run the risk of introducing diseases such as Potato Virus Y, Potato Blight or Potato cyst Nematode.
If you use leftovers or buy from supermarkets or green grocers.
You might think it’s only a small risk, but once you get potato blight into your soil, it’s their forever.
No chemical will shift it.\

When to plant
Potatoes can be planted now all over Australia, in temperate and sub-tropical districts, August to October is the best time, in arid areas August until December is your best time,
In cool temperate zones, September through to January is your best time so cooler areas have a bit of extra time to order some of the more unusual varieties before they grow in the ground.
Potato varieties for you to try

How about Cranberry Red?
Cranberry Red has red skin and red flesh, great in salads, for boiling and baking. These stay red, even after cooking.
Or what about Potato Sapphire that has purple skin and purple flesh?
Purple Sapphire I’m sure is sold also as Purple Congo, is perfect for mashing, boiling and roasting, and yes, it stays purple after cooking.
Purple mash, Yum, and yes, I’ve cooked it.
And for a good all rounder, try growing Royal Blue.
Potato Royal Blue is oblong, with purple skin and dark yellow flesh.

If you’re buying through mail order or online, you have until the end of August to buy them. After that, they’re not available.
How to Grow
To grow your Potatoes-put seedling potatoes into a trench in as deep and rich a soil as you can get.
Plenty of compost and manures please.
And as they grow pile the earth up around them.
Potato plant in flower
You will need to hill the rows or potato container several times until the potatoes have flowered
You need to do this to stop the greening of tubers and also protect them from potato moth.
Also, hilling up the soil and mulch will give you more potatoes as they tend to form on roots near the surface.
That means, as you pile up the soil, you get new roots, and more potatoes....
Chicken manure or blood and bone should be dug through the bed as potatoes need a lot of phosphorus but not too much nitrogen. Too much nitrogen will mean lots of leaves rather than potatoes.
Keep the water up and but only water moderately as potatoes will rot in soil that is too wet.
They can also get a fungus growing inside them if the soil’s too wet.
When you cut them open, they’ll have grey patches inside which actually do taste mouldy. Euwwww!
You can add fish emulsion and seaweed extract when you’re watering too.
Grow Potatoes in You Compost Bin

Potatoes can also be grown in your black compost bin if you’re not using it for compost.

Plant the seed potatoes at the bottom, let them grow to about 50cm,( so with your ruler that’s almost 2 x ruler heights) 
Next, over the top and add 8cm of soil'
Let them grow a little more, add some more soil, and so on, in the end a stack of potatoes. 

Pick your potatoes when the vine has died down to the ground, that’s if you want the most potatoes, but they can be harvested from when the first baby potatoes are formed. 
The lower leaves should be turning yellow – this happens about 3 to 4 weeks after flowering. 

If you plan to store your potatoes, cut off the foliage and let the potatoes rest in the ground for 3-4 weeks to allow the skin to 'set', they keep longer this way. Store in a dark, cool, well ventilated spot.

For a great article on growing potatoes visit DPIW Tasmania

Roasting Potatoes include: Arran, Royal Blue, Cara, Celine, Desiree, Maxine, Picasso, Ruby Lou, Romano, King Edward, Kondor, Maris Piper, Stemster and Valor.

For Chip Potatoes try: Nadine, Kestrel, King Edward, Desiree, Kennebec.

For Boiling Potatoes try: Nadine, Dutch Cream Kestrel, Desiree, King Edward.

For Mashing Potatoes try: Kestrel, Nadine, King Edward, Tasmanian Pinkeye.

For Salad Potatoes try: Nicola, Tasmanian Pinkeye, Ponfine.

For something different try: Sapphire, with purple flesh it looks great mashed and roasted.

Another method for growing potatoes is underneath straw
 This no dig method is easy and will still provide you with a great crop. First, prepare the growing area with a layer of manure, dampening it, and then covering it with a thick layer of wet newspaper. Mae sure that each piece of newspaper overlaps the next to stop weeds from getting through. Put the seed potatoes on the newspaper 50cm apart and cover with a layer of straw. 
 Add cow manure and blood and bone over the straw. 
 After this add more straw, and repeat until the straw is 40cm deep. 
 Water it in well. 
 Because straw is organic, it will decompose so you will need to add more straw as it does so to prevent sunlight from reaching the potatoes.

Why are potatoes good for you?
The potato is densely packed with nutrients. The Irish couldn’t be wrong could they?
A medium potato provides vitamin C, potassium, vitamin B6 and trace amounts of thiamin, riboflavin, folate, niacin, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, and zinc.
Potatoes are known as the foods people crave when they are stressed.
Why? because the carbs in potatoes (about 26%) help make space for tryptophan  have a smooth passage into the brain.
This, in turn, boosts the serotonin level in the brain.
High serotonin levels help boost your mood and help you feel calm.
To preserve these nutrients it is important to peel the potato just prior to cooking and not leave THAT WAS YOUR VEGETABLE HERO FOR TODAY

Fraxinus Raywoodii
Claret Ash

Would you like a tree that shades your house or garden in summer, but drops all its leaves in winter so you get winter sun?
Not only does it serve this practical purpose but it has fabulous Autumn colour especially in colder districts.

Let’s find out about this plant.I'm talking with the plant panel :Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal and Jeremy Critchley, The Green Gallery wholesale nursery owner.

Did you know that the original seedling was discovered near a group of assorted ash trees in Sewell's nursery in the Mount Lofty Ranges in South Australia about 1910, and later grown at the nearby property Raywood  near Bridgewater in the Adelaide Hills.(former home of the Downer family). 
The tree was introduced to Britain in 1928 and to North America in 1956, although it did not become widely available there until 1979
Other Types of Ash Trees.There are a few different types of Ash trees such as Fraxinus ornus, the Flowering Ash Fraxinus oxycarpa the Desert Ash and Fraxinus excelsior ‘aurea’ the Golden Ash.
But none are quite as spectacular as Fraxinus Raywoodii, the Claret Ash.
The leaves are a deep dark green in the warmer months but turn this deep burgundy red in Autumn before they fall.

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