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New Year Gardening

Welcome back to another year of gardening articles and information by yours truly. It is not a new year in the garden, the new gardening year starts in June each year, which means we are half way through the current gardening year.

Now is the time to plant your winter crops of vegetables and flowers and continue to do so over the next 8 to 12 weeks. The worst aspect about planting out at this time is the hordes of insects that can devastate your plantings; to counter them place Neem Tree Granules in the planting hole and sprinkle the same on the soil surface. Sprays of Neem Tree Oil and Key Pyrethrum will also be needed to ensure pests don’t get the better of you and your crops.

During the in-between time of Christmas and New Year I received an interesting email from a reader, which I would like to share with you. The email read:
Hi Wally, Over the last few years you have helped me out with various queries all of
which have been answered and solved my problems.  Now I have come across something that is of interest to me and may be something you are aware  of……..I will paste the info below and if you think it should be  beneficial I would love to know and it may be something you could  investigate for yourself. The first paragraph is not my words. Best regards, Lona

“I read this article a few months ago and decided to give it a go as I am sick of the white butterfly and the likes feasting on my garden I use 1 soluble aspirin in 4 litres of water and  my veg garden is so far  insect free Several of my tomatoes were showing signs of some sort of  fungal disease. I have sprayed the plants twice now and they are healthy  as. Just thought I would share”

MARTHA MCBURNEY, the master gardener in charge of the demonstration  vegetable garden at the University of Rhode Island, had a bee in her  bonnet. After reading up on the ‘Systematic Acquired Resistance’ (SAR) in  plants, which helps boost their immune system, she became convinced that aspirin would render their immune system even stronger and keep them  healthier. Although richly laughed at, last summer she tested ‘aspirin  water’ on a variety of plants.  Aspirin is an excellent painkiller and anti-inflammatory, but it also has many other household uses.
1.To remove perspiration stains from white T-shirts, dissolve two aspirins in half a cup of warm water and apply to the area of the fabric where the stain is. This should be left for a couple of hours before washing.
2.Has your hair ever gone yellow or green from chlorine in a swimming pool? This can be remedied very quickly by dissolving 8 aspirin tablets in a glass of water and rubbing the resulting liquid into your hair. Leave for about ten minutes and then rinse it out. Shampoo in the usual way.
3.First aid for pimples: Crush an aspirin tablet and add a little water to make a paste. Cover the pimple with this paste and after a few minutes rinse it off. The pimple will be less red and reduced in size. Aspirin is an astringent.
4.Drop a soluble aspirin tablet into the water before arranging cut flowers in a vase. It helps to keep them fresh for longer.
5.To treat dandruff, crush two aspirin tablets and add them to your usual shampoo. Leave on the hair for a couple of minutes and rinse as normal.
6.Mosquito bites can be eased by wetting the skin and rubbing an aspirin over the spot.
7.Bee stings can be treated in the same way but any adverse reaction to the sting should be reported to a doctor.
8.Gardeners can treat fungal soil infections by dissolving an aspirin tablet in a liter of water and using the mixture to treat the soil. Don’t make this mixture too strong if using around plants as it may burn the leaves.
9.Aspirin can also be mixed with potting compost in the greenhouse, or garden, to prevent fungus forming around the roots of new plants.
10.Take some fresh lemon juice and mix it with a soluble aspirin to make a mixture that will remove grass stains, nicotine stains, etc from hands.

(In regards to plants) When the leaves of a plant are exposed to illness, such as a viral or fungal infection, the plant will respond by developing dead spots at the point of infection to limit its spread. This is referred to as a hypersensitive response. The plant will also boost its immune system in a reaction called systemic acquired resistance to be more able to the fight the infection. They do this in part by producing salicylic acid and methyl salicylate.
The infected plant will make high levels of these chemicals around the dead spots, which will then move through the plant, possibly acting as a warning to the rest of the plant to ramp up defenses. In fact, researchers at the National Center for Atmospheric Research discovered that plants under stress release methyl salycilate into the air, thereby communicating with neighboring plants and warning them of the threat.

Because aspirin is so similar chemically to salicylic acid and methyl salycilate, spraying plants with a small amount of dissolved aspirin can actually trigger the same immune response as an infection, thereby intentionally triggering the plant to strengthen itself.
Giving aspirin to flowers does have a downside, however. If the plant is treated with the aspirin solution too frequently, all of its available energy will be put to responding to the treatment. This reaction can actually inhibit plant from growing and flowering.
The dosage Martha arrived at after numerous experiments was 1.5 aspirin  (81 gr. strength) to two gallons of water. (Thats 9 litres of water) Important note: The tablets should be the uncoated type.

(To aid the solution to stick and spread over the foliage sprayed use 9 mils of Raingard to the 9 Litres of water) Finally, Martha devised a schedule of spraying once every three weeks, no  matter the type of plant. The summer when Martha first started testing  aspirin water was not the best, weather-wise. It was cool, rainy and damp.  Yet, by the end of the season, the plants growing in the raised beds on which the aspirin water had been used looked like they were on steroids!  They were huge and green and insects-free. Some disease seemed even to have reversed themselves on cucumbers affected by a virus.
Martha also sprayed the aspirin water on the seeds directly sowed in the  ground. The result was close to 100 per cent seed germination, compared to  spotty germination in the other trial beds.

I have come across the cut flower aspirin trick and also knew of using a solution of aspirin for assisting cuttings to root up. Elsewhere I have come across ‘Systematic Acquired Resistance’ (SAR) in plants and if a aspirin does stem up the plant’s protection system it is certainly a worthwhile thing to try in your own garden. Let me know the results.

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