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Garden Doctor

Thrip

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Believe it or not this photo has a thrip feeding on the centre part of this Viburnum leaf. It is so tiny that most of us don't notice it. What we do notice is the terrible damage that they create. The small thrip rip open the green cell walls of the plant and suck out all the contents. This causes the leaf to lose all its colour, giving it a bronze to silver colouring. Thrip poo is large compared to their body size, and shows up as little brown tar-like blobs on the leaves. Bad thrip infestations can even kill a plant. There are many different types of thrip. Some feed just on leaves, some just on flowers. Thrips are greatly influenced by the weather conditions. Heavy rain, very hot, dry weather reduces thrips populations. Control is difficult. Confidor is a systemic spray that will greatly reduce the population. For bad and constant infestations use Conifidor tablets in the soil around the root ball. This will protect for up to 4 months.

Leafminer

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Have you noticed some unusual squiggly marks on your citrus leaves lately as if someone with a siver marker has had some fun and when you look closely those squiggles wriggle?  Chances are you have Citrus Leaf Miner!  Caused by a tiny moth which lays eggs on the leaf and when those eggs hatch the larvae burrow just below the surface and gorge on your trees succulent leaves which creats a somewhat artistic design on the leaf surface.  So remember, if you have squigglies look for wrigglies! To control these pests organically it is easiest to just cut off the effected new growth. If you catch it early enough, spray with White Oil or Pest Oil on both sides of the new growths leaves. This smothers the insect and kills it by suffocation.

 

Tomato Borer

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If your tomato has experienced a rapid decline in health with wilted leaves, and no matter what you do the plant still looks even worse you most likely have tomato stemborer. The caterpillar belongs to a moth which lays its eggs on the stem of the plant and the caterpillar borers into the stem and bores tunnels inside the stalk. Once inside these pests are difficult to control. It is best to pull out and destroy the plant along with the caterpillar. They can move onto other plants if not removed. The borers tunnel through the stem with small holes that can be difficult to locate. Regular applications of Vegetable Dust or Tomato dust can prevent this insect from getting in

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 Wilted Leaf effected by tomato stem borer

  

Pear/Cherry Slug

 

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Pear and cherry slug (also called pear slug, or cherry and pear slug) is not a slug at all but the slimy-looking, brown to black, slug-like larvae of a sawfly. The female fly lays eggs into the leaves of pears, cherries, apples, quinces and their ornamental relatives such as flowering plums and hawthorns. After the larvae hatch out they begin to graze on the leaf surfaces. They gradually eat the upper surface of the leaf, leaving only a network of veins. They then pupate in the soil until the adult flies emerge to begin a new cycle. Sometimes the larvae over winter in the soil beneath the trees, so soil cultivation at that time of year gives some control.

Spraying with Success is a very effective and safe control. 

 

Soft Brown Scale

 

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At some point in time your citrus tree will eventually get an insect called scale all over its leaves and down the stem. If you do nothing, the scale can take over most branches and leaves. These insects suck the living daylights out of the plant and reduce its growth rate and productivity. Most people notice the ants first. They crawl all over the scale tending their food source. The ants eat the 'honeydew' that is excreted from the scale.

 

Killing the ants can slow the spread of scale, but it is more beneficial to kill the scale as the ants will go away without their food source. Use white oil, pest oil or other horticultural oils to smother and kill the scale. It is important that the oil covers the entire plant to ensure most scale have contact with the oil. Confidor by Yates is also very good as a systemic scale killer. If you need more information or a positive ID on you pest, bring in a leaf to the nursery or call 03 9741 3100

 

Passionfruit Myths Debunked

Passionfruit questions pop up every second day at Grevillea so it is time to debunk quite a few myths.

Myth 1. Do I need a male and female plant?

Passionfruit have both male and female parts in the one flower. No need to have more then one unless you want to start selling them!

Myth 2. Do I need two plants to get fruit?

No. One plant will cover at least two fence panels with plenty of fruit. They don't need cross pollination.

Trouble Shooting Guide for Passionfruit

I've had my passionfruit for over two years, it grows very well and flowers but the flower drop off and there is no fruit!

Ist Question - Was your plant a grafted passionfruit? (Did you pay more then $10 for it, if so it probably was)- Yes. See explanation below.

Passionfruit are mostly grafted plants because it extends their life from 3 years to 7 years. They are grafted onto a wild non fruiting passionfruit that helps increase vigour, are less susceptible to root disease and extends the black passionfruits life. This is all the good reasons why you should plant one. Unfortunately the down side is that the wild passionfruit root system more then often shoots away and takes over. For non-gardeners is is quite difficult to spot the subtle differences in appearance.

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Black Passionfruit leaf on the left, non-fruiting passionfruit on the right

 

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Non-Fruiting Passionfruit Flower

 

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Fruiting Black Passionfruit Flower

 

If all else fails, bring a few leaves and a flower into Grevillea for one of our horticulturalist help.

 

Earwigs

earwig.jpgSpring is the time when an abundance of earwigs create problems in the vegie garden and orchard. These nocturnal insects leave the confides of their dark, moist crevices to feed on newly planted seedlings and freshly sprouting fruit trees. All we find in the morning when we inspect our vegie garden is lacey looking leaves that have had all the soft green parts eaten away. Without any control methods our seedlings and trees can take ages to get over the  loss of foliage or die. They can be quite difficult to control, but a combination of the following methods may help get past the spring onslaught.

Traps -

Tried and tested scrunched up newspaper will attract them after they have feed and want to hide the day away. Every morning throw out the earwigs hiding inside. Recent experiments by one of our customers (Thanks Coralee) found that cutting up 30cm lengths of old hose and scattering them around the garden captured most of the earwigs. Boiling water down the hose in the morning proved their undoing (or whatever you deem fitting.

Another trap we haven't tested but have heard many good reports is vegetable oil in a deep lid with 1 tablespoon of soy sauce. The Soy Sauce attracts the earwig, and the oil prevents them from escaping.

The best solution for preventing damaged to fruit tree leaves and fruit is to use a sticky barrier glue around the base of the fruit tree. This will also help stop harlequin bugs from crawling up to wreck your fruit.

Regular dusting of Yates Vegetable Dust can help slow down the damage, but needs regular repeat applications

 Harlequin Bugs

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Two pairs of Harlequin Bugs hiding in the Silverbeet 

At this time of year (spring) the Harlequin bugs are breeding. In a short period of time from one couple there will be thousands. During the drought in Melbourne their numbers increased rapidly, invading vegie gardens and orchards. In numbers, they suck the juice of fruits and stems of most of our prized vegies. Particulary annoying on tomatoes. They are quite difficult to control. There are not many registered chemical controls. Once they start feeding on plants you can try using confidor drops at 2.5ml per 1 lt. There are a number of home remedies. Basic house fly spray sprayed directly onto the pest will cause them to drop off the plant and die. Try this in the morning when they are in one clump. A bowl of boiling water held underneath them with make them fall off to their death. I once tried a chilli spray (Bhut Jolokia - hottest in the world) and sprayed a tea solution onto a few harlequins as an experiment. They didn't like that too much. The next morning I found quite a few carcasses. The harlequin bug feeds off Marshmallow weed. Don't let this weed grow in your garden and help increase the bug population.

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Marshmallow Weed

Peach/Nectarine Leaf Curl

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Leaf Curl is a fungal disease which overwinters in the crevices of the tree bark and around the buds. One or two well timed applications for most stone fruits should control the disease. The timing of the fungicide spray varies with differing stone fruit varieties. For apricots, spraying at 90% leaf fall and again as buds show pink is recommended. For peaches, spraying is best in late winter when buds first swell (bud scales start to loosen).

Symptoms

Leaves are curled, change colours and are severely deformed. Leaves finally turn brown, shrivel and drop from the tree. Fruits may drop early, or turn reddish-purple with warty growths on the outer surface.

Control

Spray trees thoroughly at bud swell and again one week later, and also at leaf fall with a copper spray

Fungus Fighter 100gm


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