A bit of mollycodling for the fruit trees

Have you noticed the days lengthening? It’s no warmer, but a bit lighter. The skies feel less enveloping, enclosing. Steiner would probably talk about deep, internal, earthly winter workings – the soil forces – giving way to the more atmospheric, cosmic influences. The fruit trees are feeling something, anyway. Lyn and I applied the first curly leaf spray this week to the budding stone fruit.

July is timely for attending to your fruit trees. See the July Notes for more details on what to else to do in the garden and when (including a Weather Event warning from forecaster extraodinaire Brian Keats).

Codling Moth is a bugbear for most apple and pear growers. Despite our good bug mixes and pheremone traps, we still had grubs and moths in some apple trees last year (Q – are some heritage apple varieties more prone than others?). In this part of the world, the moth will have three life cycles each season, starting at flowering time, with peak numbers around December. They’re now overwintering in cocoons under the the soil, in leaf litter or mulch, or under the bark on trunks and branches. You can still limit damage by applying sticky bands on the trees, to prevent the pupating female moths clambering/fluttering upwards to the flowers where they’ll lay eggs near the developing fruit. The resulting grubs bore through the fruit, gorge and grow, then burrow out again, ready to pupate, and mate, and lay more eggs …

In spring, they’ll pupate quickly and the moths hatch out. That’s when the pheremone traps and parasitic wasps, corrugated cardboard around the trunk, and other methods help. Chooks are great codling moth predators (if you can keep them from eating your veges and being eaten by foxes or dogs). Wormwood, southernwood, tansy and lemonbalm are also said to be good for repelling the insects. See some more info on controlling codling moth from Green Harvest’s excellent organic pest control website. So, clearing – and burning – any harbour (and hopefully cocoons) from underneath trees,  including brushing/scraping any loose bark that they might be under, and applying sticky barrier glue to trunks and branches can also be July jobs.

See you in the garden, or at the Produce Exchange (Sat 4th), or our Garden get together (Sun 26th – note date change).

Attending to the stone fruit

If you’ve been down to the garden – in between frosts – over the weekend, you’ll notice our stone fruits are starting to bud already. Remember what they tasted like?!
I’m proposing a first spray for curly leaf next Friday arvo (26th June) at 3.30pm if anyone can come along to assist and accompany. A follow up is then needed a few weeks after, when the flower buds should begin to swell and pinken.

Hold your mouse over the images to view caption or enlarge for a better view…

We could also give the ailing loganberries a spray, just for the sake of prevention (and the other fruit trees, though it won’t do anything for codling moth on the pome fruits). This treatment is also useful for black spot on roses, if you have them.
A garden members get together on Sunday 26 July, 3-5pm to meet and greet new and renewing members, talk about growing plans for spring and summer, and about fixing the (frost damaged) mosaic tables, as well as fundraising (as ever). The pizza oven will be lit. Come earlier to have a bit of a garden, with company.

Moon descending, earth sign – time to spray BD500

Saturday is the day for stirring and spraying BD500 – all portents are promising: the moon is descending, waning, in a ‘root’ or earth sign. It also looks like a drizzly weekend. placing the BD500 into water - a little goes a long way; homeopathic quantities are used

Join us at 3.30pm to start the flowforms for an hour’s stir and then spray the garden and garlic crop. Any leftover BD500 will be available for gardeners to take home and sprinkle on their own patch. We’ll also have the fish emulsion ready for sale then (with proper tap to decant it!) for those who wanted it at the compost build.

Don’t forget the Produce Exchange that morning outside Dig Cafe from 10.30am. No doubt kale, silver beet and fartichokes will be there for the swapping…. maybe some seeds…

Eat (and grow) up your Greens

Yes, the calendar says it’s winter and we’re not far away from the mid year solstice (at 2.38am on 22nd). Growth and germination will be slow this month, but if you were late getting started, you can still plant through the winter. Just stagger your plantings more widely to take account of this slower growth.

Leafy greens – kale, rocket, lettuce, mustards, chinese and japanese greens, all do well right through the winter and make good nightly picking. Kale is no longer a forgotten gem in Central Victorian vege gardens. In fact, it’s now faddish and fashionable. Along with silver beet, kale is a heroine of the winter garden – both are hardy and nutritious greens, that can be treated as perennials – especially if you’ve neglected to do much planting in your patch!

Think about pruning fruit trees for structure, planting and transplanting deciduous plants, and composting and soil building activies this month. For more information and some extra hints about growing onions – another good crop for winter – go to the Planting Notes for June.

rainbowAnd an update on the compost – too dark for a photo, but last night the heap was very warm, verging on hot, and nicely wet. We added a few more biscuits of straw to protect and insulate the top of heap.

I’m also tempted to have a go at turning some of those autumn leaves into a quick seedraising/potting mix – adding slaked lime, turning, watering and then repeating (without the lime) every week or so. A quick and easy way to retain the goodness of autumn.

Don’t forget the Produce Exchange on saturday 7 June, 10.30am outside Dig Cafe – drop by and pay your membership renewal at the same time.

A week later

Remember this?

It now looks like this …



I couldn’t quite capture the steam rising gently off the heap, but it was. The heap has slumped to two-thirds or less of the original height and is warm but not yet at the 60-70 degrees C it should get to, perhaps by next weekend.