Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

GARDEN REMEDIES & SUGGESTIONS

Check out this website for help with plant problems: VEGETABLE MD ONLINE

TOPICS:

  • SUPPLEMENTS
  • PLANTS and their requirements
  • DEFICIENCY SIGNS
  • PESTS & DISEASES
  • PRODUCTS
  • SPECIFIC PROBLEM
  • MAKING POTTING MIX
  • SAVING SEED & BUYING OPEN POLLINATED SEED

SUPPLEMENTS

Calcium - gypsum, dolomite, blood and bone

Magnesium - epsom salts, dolomite

Phosphorus - fowl manure, seaweed, fish products, blood and bone, rock phosphate

Potassium - ash, composted hardwood, sugarcane mulch, molasses, deco (granite)

 

BASALT (crusher dust) = calcium and iron - buy from Pine Rivers Landscape by the bucket full, sprinkle in garden

BLOOD AND BONE - (from Peter Cundall) Now my favourite - blood and blooming bone and it's a fantastic fertiliser. Do you know why it's so good? Because the blood meal contains slow release nitrogen, and the bone meal is full of calcium and phosphorus. But this stuff lacks potash. That means adding sulphate of potash. About two cups for a bucketful. It’s easy to mix and I'm not afraid to handle it. Add a good fistful, or a bit more, for every square metre.

CAMOMILE TEA = magnesium - open teabags and add to watering can, allow to steep - good for powdery mildew - good for pawpaws

CHICKEN MANURE - nitrogen and potassium

COMFREY = nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, in substantial amounts. A high potash feed, it has an  NPK of about 8-2.6-20.5 %. Comfrey is also rich in calcium and many other valuable plant nutrients it mines from deep in the subsoil - MULCH, SOIL AMENDER, PEST PREVENTION & CONTROL, LIQUID FERTILIZER, MEDICINAL, COSMETIC: INFO LINK

COMPOST = Iron - deficiency can be avoided by choosing appropriate soil for the growing conditions (e.g., avoid growing acid loving plants on lime soils).

DOLOMITE = calcium, magnesium, sweetener ie raises PH - good for beans, toms, corn, swt potato

(from Peter Cundall) Use dolomite only if you've got acidic soil and you need to sweeten it. Dolomite is not a fertiliser, it's a soil unlocker, and it's nothing more than calcium and magnesium. It even helps break up this clay soil as well. The great thing about dolomite limestone is that because it's slow acting, it doesn't react against any of these old, well decayed manures. Put it on very, very generously. And all I have to do now is dig it in.

(Dolomite is a term used by geologists to describe rocks containing Carbonates of Calcium and Magnesium )

  • Dolomite neutralises soil acidity, in this application being more effective weight for weight than limestone.
  • Provides the element Calcium essential to maintain plant cell functions.
  • Provides Magnesium essential for chlorophyll production.
  • Stimulates microbacterial activity in the soil to aid plant nutrient availability.
  • Dolomite helps to ensure the breakdown of organic matter and increases the availability of nitrogen to plants.
  • The availability of molybdenum is improved by the use of dolomite on acid soils.

EPSOM SALTS = magnesium - good for pawpaws

GYPSOM = Calcium sulphate - Soil conditioner for improving the structure of hard clay soil.

GRANITE (Deco) = potassium - buy from Pine Rivers landscape by the bucket full, sprinkle in garden

MANURE = Iron - deficiency can be avoided by choosing appropriate soil for the growing conditions (e.g., avoid growing acid loving plants on lime soils).

MOLASSES = potassium - benefits bananas, opens up the soil, moisturises the soil, repels caterpillars: 1 Tble in 1lt hot water, add 1teas. detergent (aids sticking), make sure you spray under the leaves as well.

Donna: Molasses can be used as a drench to kill nematodes (? 1/2 L per watering can) but will also kill other micro-organisms including worms so only to be used as a last resort.

MUSHROOM COMPOST - (from Peter Cundall) The reason why mushroom compost is so marvellous, it's the best of all the fertilisers, and this one is absolutely neutral. It can be used round just about any plant and dug in. Turn it upside down to find this slimy stuff. Get rid of that. It's stinky stuff and will break down later. Then spread it around and it can be dug in later.

PEET MOSS = acidfying ie lowers PH - good for Blueberries and other acid loving plants.

WEED TEA (for use on seedling etc) = bucket of water with Comfrey, fish emulsion, molasses, weeds, epsom salts and whatever else takes your fancy - to the colour of weak tea (personally my weed tea is quite dark, not pale). Cover your container of water with flyscreen to prevent mosquito larvae being laid.

NOTE: I find the mosquitos will get in and lay their eggs no matter what you cover the tea with. But! even loose screening makes it difficult for the adult mosquito to get out and they fall into the weed tea enriching it!

 

PLANTS

AVOCADO - INFO LINK - roots don't like to be waterlogged (will die withing 48hrs).

Picking fruit: A lot of people wonder about the right time to harvest an avocado. Wait until the first one falls to the ground, and put that in the cupboard, keep it for about a fortnight to ripen and it’ll be ready to eat. And at that stage you know that you can harvest them from the tree. When the little button at the top starts to change colour and goes a bit lighter, just snip it off, put it in a brown paper bag, put it in the pantry for about a week to a fortnight and it will get soft and it will be magnificent.

BANANA - nitrogen and potassium INFO LINK

BLUEBERRIES -


CAROMBOLA -

CORN - dried seed should be pre-soaked - viable seed should plump up

CUSTARD APPLE -

LYCHEE - acid-loving - chelated iron and soil sulfur may be necessary in areas with alkaline soils. A soil pH between 5.5 and 7.5 is acceptable, but plants grow much better in soils with a pH at the low end of this range.INFO LINK

PERSIMMON -

PAWPAW - magnesium

POTATO - add potassium sulphate before planting, necessary for tuber production

SOURSOP -
TOMATOES -
WAMPI -

TAMARILLOINFO LINK Particularly important nutrients for tamarillos

are nitrogen, potassium and magnesium


 

DEFICIENCY SIGNS

CALCIUM DEFICIENCY - distorted growth, blossom end rot in toms

POTASSIUM DEFICIENCY - holes in leaves, spindly stems, black spot, powdery mildew

BORON DEFICIENCY - can be seen in beans by their curl and hard patches and flavourless paw paws.

PHOSPHOROUS DEFICIENCY - black spot, powdery mildew

MAGNESIUM DEFICIENCY - black spot, powdery mildew

SOIL PH

PH is important in plant growth because it affects the availability of plant foods and prevents the spread of soil borne diseases. Check it regularly, at least twice a year, as nature tends towards the acid side.

7.0/6.5 = neutral - suits most plants

  • above is alkaline or "sweet" - You can make an acid soil more alkaline by adding lime (dolomite)
  • below is acid or "sour" -soils can be made more acidic by adding peat, iron sulphate or flowers of sulfur.

It is more difficult to lower pH in an alkaline, lime-rich soil than it is to raise pH.

Plants that like a low PH or acid soil - blueberries,

Plants that like a high PH or sweet soil - fig

 

PESTS & DISEASES

Plant Diseases

Disease fungi take their energy from the plants on which they live. They are responsible for a great deal of damage and are characterized by wilting, scabs, moldy coatings, rusts, blotches and rotted tissue. This page is designed to help identify some of the more common plant diseases and provides earth-friendly solutions for combatting them. Click on the links or pictures below to learn more.

Anthracnose Disease

Anthracnose

Generally found in the eastern part of the U.S., anthracnose infected plants develop dark lesions on stems, leaves or fruit.

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Apple Scab Disease

Apple Scab

Symptoms on fruit are similar to those found on leaves. Scabby spots are sunken and may have velvety spores in the center.

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Bacterial Canker

Bacterial Canker

Infection causes sunken, oozing cankers to form on many stone fruits. May cause wilting or death of branches or trees.

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Leaf Spot Disease

Bacterial Leaf Spot

Infected plants have brown or black water-soaked spots on the foliage, sometimes with a yellow halo, usually uniform in size.

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Tomato End Rot

Blossom End Rot

A serious disorder of tomato, pepper and eggplant, blossom end rot is caused by low levels of calcium when fruits are forming.

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Brown Rot Disease

Brown Rot

A major disease of stone fruits, brown rot can cause huge losses in peaches, cherries, plums, prunes, nectarines and apricots.

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Apple Rust Spores

Cedar Apple Rust

On apple and crabapple, look for pale yellow pinhead sized spots on the upper surface of the leaves shortly after bloom.

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Club Root Disease

Club Root

Infected plants in the cabbage family will have misshapen and deformed (clubbed) roots, often cracking and rotting.

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Rust Disease

Common Rust

Most often found on mature plants where symptoms appear primarily on the surfaces of lower leaves.

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Corn Smut Disease

Corn Smut

Corn galls can grow up to 5 inches in diameter and release thousands of spores as they burst or rupture.

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Crown Gall

Crown Gall

A common disease of many woody shrubs and some herbaceous plants, including grapes, stone fruits and roses.

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Damping Off Disease

Damping Off

A result of soil borne fungi, damping-off usually refers to the disintegration of stems and roots at and below the soil line.

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Downy Mildew

Downy Mildew

Spore production is favored by temperatures cooler than 65 degrees F. and by relative humidities approaching 100%.

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Early Blight Disease

Early Blight

Appears on lower, older leaves as small brown spots with concentric rings that form a “bull’s eye” pattern.

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Fire Blight Disease

Fire Blight

Named for the scorched appearance of infected plant leaves, fire blight is a destructive bacterial disease.

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Fusarium Wilt Disease

Fusarium Wilt

Fusarium wilt initially causes a yellowing and wilting of lower leaves, especially in tomato and potato plants.

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Gray Mold Disease

Gray Mold

Gray mold is identified as grayish colored soft, mushy spots on leaves, stems, flowers and on produce.

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Late Blight Disease

Late Blight

Symptoms appears on potato or tomato leaves as pale green to gray spots, often beginning at leaf tips or edges.

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Leaf Curl Disease

Leaf Curl

Disease fungi overwinter as spores (conidia) underneath bark, around buds and in other protected garden areas.

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Mosaic Virus

Mosaic Virus

Leaves of infected plants are characterized by intermingled patches of normal and light green or yellowish colors.

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Potato Scab

Potato Scab

A common tuber disease that occurs wherever potatoes are grown. Scab spots appear as brown, roughened areas.

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Powdery Mildew disease

Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew appears as a dusty white to gray coating over leaf surfaces and other infected plant parts.

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Verticillium Wilt

Verticillium Wilt

A persistent soil borne disease affecting fruits and vegetables, especially tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and eggplant.

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APHIDS/ANTS - TANGLEFOOT PEST BARRIER - LINK

CATERPILLARS 

DIPEL (Yates Naturesway Caterpillar Killer) - 

MSDS Material Safety Data Sheet link

Yates Nature’s Way Caterpillar Killer contains Dipel (Bacillus thuringiensis), a naturally occurring bacteria. It controls many leaf-eating caterpillars of moths and butterflies, but does not harm other insects, birds, fish or warm blooded animals.

Dipel does not kill caterpillars immediately. Once a caterpillar eats treated foliage, it stops eating, but may take up to 3-4 days to die and drop from the leaf.

Yates Nature’s Way products are based on natural, low toxic & organic ingredients that are Eco Friendly for you & your Garden. To help protect and repair our environment, we donate a percentage of sales to Landcare.

  • LOW TOXIC solution
  • Controls Armyworm, cotton bollworm, native budworm (Helicoverpa sp), cabbage moth caterpillars, cabbage white butterfly caterpillars, green looper, lightbrown apple moth caterpillars, pear looper, vine moth caterpillars, soybean looper, tobacco looper.
  • Can be used on vegetables, fruits, vines, herbs, ornamental shrubs, flowers & trees.
  • Safe for bees, ladybirds, birds, fish, mammals & pets
  • Perfect for use in organic gardens
  • Contains 5 X 10g handy sized sachets

DERRIS DUST (Yates Natures Way Vegetable Dust) - NOTE SAFETY CONCERNS WITH THIS PRODUCT

MSDS Material Safety Data Sheet link

  • Based on a natural plant root extract.
  • Withholding period on edible crops only 1 day.
  • Almost non-toxic to humans, bees and wildlife (except fish).
  • Handy easy to use shaker pack.
  • Easy to use shaker pack – no mixing or spraying required

Rotenone is a contact and stomach poison which paralyses the heart and respiratory system of the insect.

Dust at 7-10 day intervals on upper and lower surfaces of foliage, commencing at seedling stage. Do not apply if rain is expected or on windy days.

The product usually remains effective for 7 days except that after rain it is necessary to dust again.


Environmental effects
Derris breaks down in one to three days when exposed to sunlight. Although generally not as harmful as organophosphates or carbamates, derris still kills bees, fish and beneficial insects such as lacewings, ladybirds and parasitic wasps. It should only be used where cultural, physical and biological control is not feasible.

Alternatives
White oil. Plan crop rotation and plant repellent species, such as marigolds. To control caterpillars, pick off manually or see Bacillus thuringiensis (see Naturesway Caterpillar Killer product containing Dipel).

CATERPILLARS - White Cabbage Butterfly or White Cabbage Moth natural predator:

You need to watch the following video to the end to see the parasitic wasp larvae emerge and spin their golden cocoons. The wasps are the size of a small ant but with clear wings and long antennae.

Apanteles glomeratus

http://www.insectes-net.fr/pieride/images/pier116gf.jpg

Another parasitic wasp with similar modus operendi:

Glyptapanteles Wasp Parasitic wasp turns caterpillars into head banging bodyguards

Below are the cocoons of this tiny wasp Apanteles glomeratus. The caterpillar sits zombie like hunched over or near them. The ones I kept in a container hatched into insects the size and appearance (at first glance) of a small, dark ant - except they had clear wings and long antennae that they used quite a lot in a "feeling" motion of the area in front of them. No ovipositor that I could see. Glyptapanteles wasp cocoons with the cabbage white butterfly caterpillar

 

COCKROACHES -
ex Marie Skinner:

I recently discovered I had heaps of cockroaches in my feed shed and the idea came to me to try a simple trap that I had seen my mother use when I was a young girl, which involved placing a piece of banana in the bottom of a jar and smearing vaseline around the inner upper edge of the jar so they can't get out. I was delighted to find it chock full of the little pests the next day - so were the chooks!

CUTWORMS - varieties can live above and below the ground: CUTWORM INFO LINK

FRUIT BATS - ex Donna: either hang some mothballs or a kerosene wick (container with kero and a rag hanging out) to mask the ripening fruit smell.

FRUIT FLY - Eco-naturalure LINK

GREENHARVEST FRUIT FLY LINK

Wild May, traps, Eco-naturalure LINK

Two types of fruit fly: Queensland Fruit Fly and Mediterranian Fruit Fly.

Queensland Fruit Fly - DPI LINK

                                                                                  

               Adult Queensland fruit fly (Bactrocera tryoni)Larvae of Queensland fruit fly with damaged (darker) areas of fruit. Note the black mouth parts in the head of each larva                                                  

Mediterranean Fruit Fly                                                      

 

Here's an interesting home remedy for killing fruit fly:

Fruit flies are attracted to moisture, sugar and protein apparently. 1lt water, 2 cups of fresh pee, 3 teaspoons (cheap) vanilla essence, 1 teaspoon of yeast, 1 cup sugar, mix thoroughly. Use plastic drinks bottles, put lid back on but make a couple of small holes near the neck place 50 mm in bottle. hang about 1m from the ground. change mixture regularly. We make up fresh stuff once a week.  Fruit fly like the colour yellow so if you can paint the bottles yellow that is supposed to help too.

 

OTHER CHEWING/SUCKING INSECTS eg grasshoppers, lady beetles, aphids  -

Spray - Ex Donna: Molasses, garlic, chilli can be used in sprays to deter leaf chewing insects.
Oil has been used to suffocate soft bodied insects. Do not leave these sprays sitting around in the sun or they lose their punch. Shelf life??

Yellow ladybugs are mildew eating ones
26/ 28 spotted ladybugs are the "naughty" ones that will eat your leaves  INFO LINK

MILDEW -

Powdery and Downey Mildew on a grape leaf:

Downy Mildew: Pseudoperonospora cubensis is a species of water mould known for causing downy mildew on cucurbits such as cantaloupe, cucumber, pumpkin, squash and watermelon. This water mould is an important pathogen of all these crops, especially in areas with high humidity and rainfall.

Preventative steps to control downy mildew are not only natural in character but are often the most effective of any control methods available to the home gardener. Many cultivars of susceptible host plants have been developed for their resistance to downy mildews, so shop around for these cultivars and plant them in lieu of more susceptible varieties.

Humidity plays a large role in the development of downy mildew, so for greenhouse plants, keep humidity inside the greenhouse below 85 percent. For outdoor plants, carefully monitor plants for symptoms after they are subjected to 85 percent humidity or higher. Leaf wetness is also a major contributor to downy mildew infection, so always prune susceptible host plants to increase air circulation and speed up leaf-drying time after watering.

If a plant has already been infected with downy mildew, natural control methods are more limited. Always prune infected plants when symptoms first appear as the spores of the causal fungus can easily spread throughout the plant or to nearby plants.

If you water your plants late in the day or if you water them from above, adjust watering practices once symptoms appear. Watering in the morning when the sun has more time to dry leaves or watering by soaking the soil underneath the infected plant can help prevent the disease spreading to the rest of the plant. If an infection has taken over most or all of a host plant, it will usually need to be dug up and removed before it can infect nearby plants.

Powdery mildew on a curcubit:

Powdery mildew is a fungal disease that affects a wide range of plants. Powdery mildew diseases are caused by many different species of fungi in the order Erysiphales. It is one of the easier diseases to spot, as its symptoms are quite distinctive. Infected plants display white powdery spots on the leaves and stems. The lower leaves are the most affected, but the mildew can appear on any above-ground part of the plant.

As the disease progresses, the spots get larger and denser as large numbers of asexual spores are formed, and the mildew may spread up and down the length of the plant. Powdery mildew grows well in environments with high humidity and moderate temperatures.[1] In an agricultural setting, the pathogen can be controlled using chemical methods, genetic resistance, and careful farming methods. It is important to be aware of powdery mildew and its management as the resulting disease can significantly reduce crop yields.

NEMATODES - Donna: Molasses can be used as a drench to kill nematodes (? 1/2 L per watering can) but will also kill other micro-organisms including worms so only to be used as a last resort.Mustard greens and marigolds can be used as a fumigant by growing until just starting to flower then digging into a bed that has nematodes.

Powdery mildew, milk mixed with water and sprayed on the leaves does work as does bicarb soda mixed with water. Active8 works best. 

SLUGS- These will leave a silvery trail and be nipping off your new growth during the night (unlike the cutworm which will slice the new sprout off at the bottom).

slug remedies link -

Create a haven for them eg upturned cabbage leaf or orange rind and collect and dispose of the snails.

Beer or honey and yeast mix sunk into ground in containers.

Don't like copper - gives them a mild electric shock but does not kill - use as a barrier.

Dry dog or cat food under a foil tin, weighted down and with "doors" cut into the rim - collect snails and dispose of.


PRODUCTS

ORGANIC XTRA - local organic all purpose fertiliser ORGANIC XTRA LINK

 

ORGANIC LINK - rec. by Michael Lawson - all purpose fert. from Bunnings not expensive ORGANIC LINK link

 

McLEODS ORGANIC SOIL CONDITIONER - LINK

FISH EMULSION - acts quickly and effectively to feed plants and promote strong, healthy growth LINK

 

SPECIFIC PROBLEM

POWDERY MILDEW - don't use sprays in direct sunlight (? hottest part of day?) - camomile tea (see above), don't water in arvo, spray with Neem Oil, dust with sulphur, Active 8 (from Anthony Foo)

Comment by Steven

I successfully used milk to control powdery mildew.  It does work.   But after a severe  infestation like I had, even though the mildew was halted, the leaves were very damaged and weakened.

FYI  A Brazillan scientist  Wagner Bettiol  found that milk concentration of 10% or greater were just as effective as conventional fungicides. See his original paper.

He used full cream milk, but later tests with New Zealand melon growers showed that skim milk was just as effective. I use 20% skim milk.

BLACK SPOT - on pawpaw etc - Black Spot on Pawpaw

This is what Annette McFarlane has to say about it on her pages LINK
Adequate nutrition is as much a tool in disease control as the use of sprays. Plants deficient in potassium, phosphorous and magnesium are more susceptible to attack by black spot and powdery mildew. Simply increasing the potassium (sulphate of potash and/or lucerne mulch), phosphorous (rock phosphate or chicken manure) and magnesium levels (Epsom salts) helps to make plants more resistant to disease. Pawpaws are most susceptible to black spot disease during the cooler months. Spraying with sulphur or copper based compounds prior to the onset of the cool weather and watering with liquid seaweed can help reduce the severity of infestations.


Major elements: Nitrogen, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, potassium, sulfur.

Trace elements: Iron, manganese, boron, copper, zinc and molybdenum.
(Iron occupies an intermediate position and is usually included in the major elements group. In dealing with field problems it is more convenient to group it with the trace elements.)

Nitrogen Deficiency

Older, lower leaves turn yellow from the tips going toward the stem. The plant turns yellowish-green from the ground up, becoming stunted and spindly with small stems and leaves. In time, it will die. Nitrogen deficiency is often found in plants growing in heavy clay soils, in heavily-watered sandy soils, and in soils rich in poorly-composed organic matter.

Phosphorus deficiency

Phosphorus deficiency can cause nitrates to accumulate in the plant, giving it a dull, dark-green look. The bottoms of older leaves sometimes turn purple. The roots grow slowly, causing delayed maturity. In annuals, a lack of phosphorous can cause poor flowering. Soils heavy in iron can cause phosphorus "fixation," delaying the spread of phosphorous to plant tissue.

Potassium Deficiency

After nitrogen, potassium is the second nutrient mineral found in plant tissue, although it can be higher in some plants. The symptoms start with leaf scorch, small spots on the margins of the leaves. This begins on the lower, older leaves. The spots get larger, eventually coming together. High levels of calcium in the soil can cause potassium deficiency.

Iron Deficiency

Newer leaves turn yellow. The veins remain green at first, while the areas between the veins turn light green, then a greenish yellow. The veins then lose their color, and the leaf turns yellow or even white. In time, the leaves can turn brown and die. Weed killers can produce symptoms that look like a deficiency of iron. Iron deficiency can be caused by oil that is cold and wet or that contains too much manganese or where the pH is too high.

Magnesium Deficiency

Older leaves turn yellow between the veins, starting at the bottom leaves and working its way upward. Plants need magnesium, which is generally obtained in soil. It has to be added to the solutions of plants grown hydroponically.

Calcium Deficiency

Calcium deficiency affects those tissues of the plant where growth occurs. The tips of the roots and the shoots die first. If calcium is not added, the stem will begin to die, followed by the entire plant. As with magnesium deficiency, the lack of calcium is rare in plants grown in soil.

Boron Deficiency

A lack of boron looks like calcium deficiency; it affects the root tips and shoots. The difference is that a plant lacking boron will continue to send out shoots that are sometimes called "witches' broom." Deficiencies of boron are most often experienced by commercial growers.

Manganese Deficiency

The symptoms of manganese deficiency are similar to those produced by a lack of iron; the space between the veins of newer leaves turns yellow. The difference is that when manganese is deficient, the finest veins remain green. The fine green veins on a yellow background make the leaves look like lace.

TOMATOES - DETERMINATE AND INDETERMINATE

Tomato cultivars are commonly classified as determinate or indeterminate.

Determinate, or bush, types bear a full crop all at once and top off at a specific height; they are often good choices for container growing.

Determinate types are preferred by commercial growers who wish to harvest a whole field at one time, or home growers interested in canning.

Indeterminate cultivars develop into vines that never top off and continue producing until killed by frost.

They are preferred by home growers who wish ripe fruit throughout the season. As an intermediate form, there are plants sometimes known as "vigorous determinate" or "semi-determinate"; these top off like determinates but produce a second crop after the initial crop.

Many, if not all, heirloom tomatoes are indeterminate.

 

MAKING POTTING MIX -

http://brisbanelocalfood.ning.com/profiles/blogs/added-to-my-seed-s...

Ex Anne Gibson:

I have swapped from using Perlite for several reasons: 

  • while it is good for aerating a potting mix, it has little water-holding capacity;
  • little-no CEC (so has no value in holding minerals in the soil);
  • but more importantly it has a healthy safety issue – Silicosis. Overexposure to dust containing microscopic silica can cause scar tissue to form in the lungs, reducing the ability to extract oxygen from the air – if you do use it, make sure you wear glasses & a dust mask.

I now stick with the vermiculite (grade 3 size) because it offers so many more advantages including:

  • high pore and air space;
  • high water-holding capacity;
  • high CEC (cation exchange capacity) so helps your soil retain minerals for longer by preventing leaching during watering (vital in container gardens);
  • excellent drainage properties;
  • is a good thermal insulator (important in pots/containers as it helps protect delicate roots from heat/cold)
  • and helps aerate the root zone.

 

I also add compost and worm castings to my potting mix so there are living microbes ready to go to work in my garden.  I'm a firm believer in using a mask when making up potting mix too.

I usually have little time when it comes to garden maintenance tasks so to speed up the hydration of the coir brick and maximise the use of this great ingredient in my potting mix, I:

  • add HOT water instead of cold - it fluffs up in seconds instead of overnight (cold water takes forever!)
  • add molasses, seaweed and Epsom salts to the hot water so that the potting mix will slowly release food for both the plants and microbes and it's right where I want it - at the root zone. i.e. the coconut fibre doesn't just hold moisture, it also releases nutrients.

I also add my organic fertilisers to the potting mix so when I pot up a plant or add the potting mix to the garden, I just pop the plant in and don't need to add anything at that time.  I've found this system saves me bucket loads of time. You can also refresh old potting mix when it becomes hydrophobic or needs reinvigorating rather than wasting it.

 

SAVING AND SOURCING OPEN POLLINATED SEED - If you want to grow your own food from seed or buy open-pollinated, heirloom and certified organic seeds, Anne Gibson has outlined the basics and put a list together here.

Check out the different Seed companies and fruit tree sellers in the Seed and Fruit Tree Site blog.

 

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Comment by Elaine de Saxe on October 16, 2013 at 17:22

Anything which will hold water and nutrients yet help to aerate the soil is useful. Vermiculite is handy stuff and mixed with compost or Searles 5-in-1 (for example) and mixed through the soil will help to keep the water close to the roots.

Comment by Janet Fong on October 16, 2013 at 12:40

is it beneficial to mix in vermiculite to garden bed and vegie patch before planting out vegetables or fruit trees?

for example 25% vermiculite to the usual grow medium.

Comment by Lissa on February 9, 2013 at 12:52

Also, if there are a lot of them in the same place it could indicate that they are busy keeping some small insects at bay for you.

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on February 9, 2013 at 9:23

Spiders only ever eat insects and sometimes other spiders (some females eat the males after the event). They are not vegetarians. Being 'cold-blooded' they do not eat much anyway, so one spider won't be out and about all day every day looking for something to kill. Some actively hunt others sit quietly in webs, there's many more spiders around than you might imagine eating (or sucking the juices from) smaller insects which are hard for us to see. If there are too many in the same place, they could die of starvation or decide to move on to less-crowded climes; that they are there indicates good conditions for them for food and shelter.

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on February 8, 2013 at 21:10

I've never considered spiders to be 'bad'! As Lissa says, they eat insects and only insects. Vegetarians they are not ;-) There are spiders with toxins which are deadly for us but mostly, unless we poke and prod them, they are not going to attack us. Praise the spiders and all other creatures which make your garden their home - if there were not food and shelter, they would go elsewhere. It's the natural world giving you a pat on the back for keeping a friendly garden.

Comment by Lissa on February 8, 2013 at 18:37

Hi Elizabeth. Spiders don't eat your plants but predate other insects so they are helping you on the whole. They will eat some of the helpful insects too, but that's just natures way. It needs to find it's own balance in your garden.

I get a lot of these little fellas in my garden as well. This one is sitting on her egg sac - creating more little predators to help you in your garden, so take good care of her.

Have a look at Brisbane Insects under spiders and see if you can identify this one. It's a good thing to know the role of all insects in your garden so you don't look on them as being the "enemy".

Comment by Lissa on December 30, 2012 at 16:15

You're welcome Elizabeth :)

It's a work in progress with input from many people, if you ever have any good info you would like to add.

We can thank Joseph for finally identifying the little wasp cocoons. Sometimes it's a bit difficult to tell the "goodies" from the "badies" in the insect world. These are quite wonderful and I hope they come back next year.

Comment by Lissa on October 27, 2011 at 6:45
lol definately a work in progress Barbara. I come back in every now and then and try to arrange it in a more readable fashion.
Comment by Lissa on September 30, 2011 at 5:15
Spider Mites hate water - they usually proliferate during a bout of dry. Water the underside of the leaves with your hose (this is where they hang out). Quickest way I've found of getting rid of them.
Comment by Donna on September 29, 2011 at 13:43

Copied from this discussion: http://brisbanelocalfood.ning.com/forum/topics/spider-mites

Home made white oil sprayed on the plants should fix the problem!

 

Interestingly the bought one includes eucalyptus and melaleuca oil, worth adding into the recipe as a 'just in case'.

http://www.greenharvest.com.au/pestcontrol/general_purpose_spray_pr...)

 

http://www.aila.org.au/canberragarden/maintenance/white_oil.pdf

Oil based sprays are very useful in controlling a wide range of insect pests in the garden. Pests like scale, aphids, smooth skinned caterpillars, mites and even young grasshoppers suffocate when their bodies are covered with oil.You can even use oil sprays to deter the citrus leaf miner. 

1. In a blender, combine 2 cups of vegetable oil with ½ cup of dishwashing liquid. Blend it up until it’s well mixed.This is your concentrate and can be stored in a jar. Be sure to label it and include the dilution rate on the label.

2. To prepare the concentrate for use, dilute 1 tablespoon in a litre of water, mix it well and spray the pest as well as both sides of the foliage thoroughly. 

3. Always follow this dilution rate, because you can burn the foliage if it’s too strong and there are a few otherrules; don’t apply it in hot weather and avoid using it on plants with hairy foliage as well as ferns, palms andcycads as this can also cause leaf burn.

4. Regular applications of this easy to make oil based spray will help protect your plants from many commonpests found in the garden. Why don’t you try it yourself

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