Some gardening tips – Wally Richards

Gardening tips are items that can make gardening easier, save you money and time as well as obtaining better results.

Experienced gardeners, learn from each other, methods that are an advantage in their gardening endeavours. Most of the following tips have originally come from other gardeners and the writer has noted the common sense of them and does not take credit for the tips.

Firstly one must realise that there is a lot of misinformation bandied about, some of which is taken for gospel by novice gardeners to their disadvantage.Take for instance adding dish washing liquid to a garden spray, it will help spread some types of sprays better over the foliage but it will also assist the spray to wash off faster in rain or overhead watering. Dish washing liquid added to water, on the other hand, is good for dry soils or mediums where water will not penetrate.

Garlic sprays favoured by organic people do not kill insect pests. Garlic sprays will however disguise the natural smell of a plant making it difficult for a pest to locate, if the pest is one which finds its host plant by smell. The smell does not last especially with rain and the plant is left open to attack.
Pyrethrum which is often used with garlic sprays for the killing action is a very good natural insecticide which is a quick kill for the insects it comes into contact with.
Problem is that Pyrethrum is very quickly broken down by UV (Sunlight) and may only be effective for a couple of hours when sprayed during the day. (even on a cloudy day) If on the other hand you spray Pyrethrum at dusk, it will remain effective till sunlight destroys its active ingredients the next day.

Copper sprays are a good protection against diseases such as blight, downy mildew, brown rot, curly leaf, bacterial diseases and citrus diseases. If you add spraying oil to the copper spray it reduces the effectiveness of the copper, so you could waste your time and money.

You often hear advisor’s saying to mix copper and oil together to save you time. If the two were truly compatible then someone would have introduced a product that already combined the two elements. The only reason to use a spraying oil is to smother scale insects in the winter/spring period. If you don’t have scale why use the oil? If you do have scale insects then use a separate oil spray when the copper protection is not needed. Copper sprays do not protect your plants from diseases such as black spot, powdery mildew, botrytis, rusts, leaf spots and leaf moulds. You need a sulphur spray for these which will also control spider mites.

There is an advantage in using Liquid Copper or Liquid Sulphur sprays as these do not block up sprays like the powder products do. Look for the Liquid Copper spray in the blue looking bottle, it is true copper hydroxide not a chemical. It is so concentrated it only needs to be used at 1 ml per litre.
You need to use the right protection for each disease, often copper is recommended for rust and black spot but it does not do much for the disease.

Alternative to using these protections is to encourage the total colonization of the foliage with beneficial fungi and microorganisms. If you achieve this, there is no room for any disease spores to set up shop.

I had a call from gardener a while ago who told me that when she lived on the farm, she feed her roses cow manure and had wonderful, healthy roses that never needed spraying. When she moved to town and started to use water soluble fertilisers and Nitrophoska, her roses started to have problems. To overcome these problems she was told to use Shield and Gild alternatively every 2 weeks. The roses never improved.

Firstly Shield and Gild are different trade names for the same chemicals so no point in alternating them. These chemical sprays and fertilisers harm the soil life and as a result effect the natural health of the roses/plants. The simple answer is to go back to the natural foods like animal manures and watch your rose’s health recover. You may need to use some natural remedies such as Magic Botanic Liquid and Mycorrcin in the meantime while the soil life and worm populations are allowed to build up again.

Herbicides used for weed killing also harm soil life but busy people that do not have the time to hand weed prefer these quick solutions. Environment friendly weed killers such as Yates Greenscape or using vinegar or cooking oil are a better option.

If you opt to use the conventional chemical herbicides then you can offset the damage by adding either Thatch Busta or Mycorrcin to the spray. The weed killer will work better and the dying weeds will disappear faster as the products speed up the decay time and feed the soil life. Raingard has been proven to increase the weed kill by about 50% if added to the herbicide spray. If you use glyphosate weed killers such as Roundup etc and add Raingard plus Thatch Busta you can halve the amount of glyphosate used.

Example, instead of 10 ml of glyphosate use 5mls. In fact for many weeds you can come down as low as 2.5mls. The less chemical used the better off everything is. Club Root is a bad disease that affects brassicas (cabbages etc) by distorting the root system. It is a soil borne disease that is often introduced into gardens with seedlings and plants grown in contaminated soil. Once you have it you have a problem growing cabbages etc. The control is the old condys crystals (potassium permagnate) a small amount of the crystals are dissolved in water with salt and then added to more water to drench the planting hole. Potassium permagnate is available from many garden centres and the jar has the recipe on the label (This is also useful for leaf diseases.)

When mixing any sprays you should fill the tank of the sprayer to half the required volume of water, mix the concentrate product/s in a litre of warm water, add this to the tank with the balance of water required. Always use all the spray made up, wash out tank and run fresh water through the sprayer. If possible only use warm water when mixing any sprays, they mix into warm water better, than into cold.

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