Deciduous trees and plants such as roses are now starting to move or in other words, break dormancy and start a new season. This is about the last chance to prune if you have not already done so. In actual fact you can prune at any time but with some plants such as grapes they will bleed liquid if pruned late after the sap has started to rise.
Normally after winter and in the beginning of a new season every thing in the garden is looking very healthy. The simple reason is that nothing much has been done over the winter months and Nature has been allowed to do its own thing. The cold has helped reduce insect populations and most diseases have been dormant also. Gardeners have not been fertilising or spray chemicals so the soil food web has recovered even if it has not really grown much because of the wet and cold.
As the soil warms then the food web will rapidly grow and this enhances the health of your gardens and plants. It will continue to do so if we don't interfere and apply harmful chemicals such as man made fertilisers and chemical sprays including weed killers.
If you live in an area where your tap water contains chlorine, you will have good plant health and a strong soil food web up until you start watering and then every thing will start to go backwards.
Chlorine kills the microbes in the soil and upsets the worms no end. If you place a 10 micron carbon bonded filter into your hose line, which removes the chlorine, then your garden‚s health will continue.
You can also assist the health of the soil by feeding natural products such as, animal manures, sheep manure pellets, blood & bone, seaweed products, Bio Boost, gypsum, dolomite, garden lime, Rok Solid, Ocean Solids, OrganiBor, BioPhos, composts etc.
Boosters such as Mycorrcin and Magic Botanic Liquid can be applied as soil drenches or sprays.
Many diseases lay dormant in the soil under trees and plants waiting for the right conditions to arrive and then up they come to infect their host plants.
You can do a few things to reduce this happening in your gardens.
Potassium Permanganate (Condys Crystals) is an oxidizing agent which means it will zap fungus diseases. For instance it can be used to clear up the fungus called athletics foot by bathing the feet in a solution of it. I remember as a child we used to gargle with a mild solution of it to cure a sore throat.
Thus you may like to try Condys Crystals by making up a solution that nicely colours up the water that you are going to spray (this would be about a quarter to half a teaspoon into about 10 litres of water) A tablespoon of Ocean Solids can be added to the water (dissolved) to enhance the solution. Spray this over the soil under your trees or roses and over the plants themselves for total coverage. What you are trying to do is kill disease spores that are harboring over on the plant or in the soil. You may not clean up everything that is dormant but all diseases that are knocked out will mean less problems later.
By the way a number of garden centres do stock Potassium Permaganate which can be used to sterilise soil, controlling club root and rust on plants. It is no longer a standard item at chemist shops and if found at one, it is usually very expensive if compared to a garden centre.
If you have on going health issues with certain plants or trees you could try placing sheets of newspaper (3-4 thick) over the soil under the tree/plant and out to beyond the drip line. Wet the paper down and then cover with a purchased compost (because its weed free). What you are trying to do is prevent the dormant spores not killed by the Condys Crystals from been able to escape up into the tree/rose and cause problems such as black spot etc. Under stone fruit it could help reduce the instance of curly leaf and brown rot.
Another interesting aspect of this is that the newspaper attracts earthworms who love munching up the wet paper. It is also a noted aspect that soils in orchards that have large earth worm populations have much less disease problems than orchards that have few or no worms. It is believed that when the earthworms pass though the soil, they are taking in the dormant disease spores and neutralizing them. Don't use chemical fertilisers, weed killers or chlorinated tap water if you want earthworms to work for you.
Under apple trees the mulch may reduce the ability of the codlin moth in the soil to emerge as moths and lay their eggs. I would also suggest for the codlin moth to sprinkle Neem Tree Granules under the apple/pear/walnut trees that have been affected in the past seasons with codlin moth.
A few gardeners have told me that it has helped greatly on their trees. Interestingly some gardeners that have sprinkled Neem Tree Granules under their roses have said that they had little or no trouble with aphids.
If you try these things I would like to hear of any success or failures that you have had. If sufficient gardeners find a thing works for them then I can pass on that information to others. Sometimes something may work for someone but not everyone else which means other unknown factors are involved.
Curly leaf is one of those frustrating diseases that attack stone fruit trees. The disease appears sometime in the spring when the leaves are emerging, it badly affects the leaves it attaches to, which later on fall off the tree. Later in the season, the time of the disease passes and new leaves appearing then are normally clean. All the affected leaves have fallen and the main harm done is that the tree has not had all its early foliage to gain energy from the sun to assist the development of the fruit that has set. This means a lot of set fruit drop and you have a much smaller or no harvest of mature fruit. If we can reduce the number of leaves affected then we will have a greater harvest. The recommended method is to spray the emerging foliage with Liquid Copper every 7 to 10 days dependant on how fast the leaves are growing. If you add Raingard to the spray then the copper particles will not wash off in rain giving you better protection, rain or shine. It is recommended that you start the copper spray program as the leaf buds swell and continue for the next 2-3 months. Sprays of Condys Crystals could be interesting to try also. Often you can in some seasons have a nice show of leaves before the first sign of curly leaf appears.
Maybe you could also try this, at the very first sign of the disease spray the condys crystals to arrest it and then soon after spray all the foliage, under and over with Vaporgard. This would do two things, firstly placing a film over the foliage sprayed which will last for about 3 months making it difficult for the disease to affect the leaves and secondly Vaporgard acts as a sun screen protecting against UV, which means the leaves are capable of producing much more energy than otherwise. This would then help to balance out the leaves that are lost by enabling the remaining leaves to work at max.
If you are using any sprays when the trees are in flower, only do so late in the day when pollination has finished for the day. If you don't have any bees around to do the pollination, try spraying a solution of dissolved raw sugar over the tree to encourage pollinators.
Problems ring me at 0800 466464 (Palmerston North 3570606)
Gardening Articles for week ending 14th August 2010
Written by Wally Richards.
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