Pests, pest control and indigenous plants

Posted by on August 5, 2017 in Gardening | 0 comments

Pests, pest control and indigenous plants

Insect repelling and insect resistant plants. Plants that don’t get ‘buggy’ have plenty of advantages in landscaping: in the first place, they always look good, and in the second, they save on the time, money and risk involved in regular spray programs. Low maintenance, low risk and low water requirements make for a powerfully attractive combination. There’s plenty of scope for a clever and creative landscape using environmentally appropriate material. Plants that are able to thrive in a given environment are healthy, and healthy plants tend to have natural defenses against insects and diseases. Some plants have very strong defenses against insects and may have insect repellent or insecticidal properties. Many of them can be used to make herbal infusions that can be sprayed onto other, less fortunate plants. Some environmentally friendly, low-risk insecticides and insect repellents are easy to make. They can be very effective. Given that many plant diseases are transmitted by insects, there is a spin-off in the form of reduced disease transmission. Insecticidal herbal infusions are old folk remedies, but they are becoming increasingly accepted in mainstream agriculture and horticulture, so that more and more commercial preparations based on this ‘folk knowledge’ are becoming available. As pest resistance to chemicals and possible health risks eliminate more and more chemical preparations from the market, the use of plants that don’t require spraying and the use of organic preparations for those that do become more and more important in both agriculture and ornamental horticulture. Insect resistant indigenous plants Most indigenous plants are reasonably tolerant and will deal with occasional insect outbreaks, but some have excellent defenses against insect attack. A few examples based on our experience with growing a wide range of indigenous plants are listed below. Acamdenias such as Acmadenia heterophylla are genuinely attractive plants with pretty pink flowers. Despite their delicate appearance, they are very resistant to insect attack. Coleonemas (the ever-popular confetti bushes) fall into a similar category – delicate-looking, but unpalatable for most insects. Buchus (Agathosma spp) are not nearly as difficult to grow as many people think. Their leaves are covered with aromatic oil glands, and insects are repelled by the strong aroma. This group of plants can provide a good component of insect repelling infusions that can be used to protect more delicate plants such as roses.  Fortunately, people are very attracted to the smell of Buchus and they have unusual flowers into the bargain. The Natal laburnum, Calpurnia aurea,  can easily be pruned into a standard or lollipop for formal gardens. It contains a natural insecticide in its sap. Beetles, caterpillars and other pests leave it religiously alone. Diospyros spp such as D.dichrophylla are extremely robust. These small trees not only tolerate a wide range of conditions, but they are very pest resistant. Restios include a wide variety of hardy genera such as Chondropetalum, Thamnochortus, Elegia, and Rhodocoma. They are very effective as landscaping plants, providing effects that range from the structural to the tropical and informal. They are rarely, if ever attacked by insects. Free-flowering Gnidia squarrosa and other species within the genus such as G. oppositifolia and G.pinifolia, although not aromatic, are shunned by insects and can be relied on to look good throughout the year. Tarchonanthus camphoratus – with correct pruning – a very hardy little tree,...

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What’s Looking good

Posted by on July 10, 2017 in Gardening | 0 comments

What’s Looking good

  Euryops chrysanthemoides ‘Sunshine Classic’: Sunny bright yellow daisy flowers on vigorous, medium height plants can be used in so many ways ; low hedges, borders or in groups for solid colour. Stachys aethiopica *Light Pink: A fast growing pot plant or ground cover with heart shaped leaves and pretty light pink flowers almost year round. Good in sandy soils on South facing slopes, but also does well in sun if it gets sufficient water. For best results trim and feed regularly. Arctotis ‘On Fire’ [PBR ZA 20124938]: This gorgeous hybrid from New Plant’s breeding program is taking the world by storm. It is clump forming rather than creeping, with silvery foliage and large, double flowers carried in profusion. Crassula ovata ‘Pink Joy’: Succulent forming a large rounded shrub with a mass of star shaped flowers in winter. Very attractive plant for the rockery or as an accent plant for dry areas. Thrives on the occasional top dressing of organic compost.  Also excellent container subject. Erica mammosa *Pink:  A pink form of this outstandingly beautiful tall Erica. Compact growth, frost hardy with puffed, dense heads of tubular pink flowers produced intemittantly all year. Prune to keep neat and promote flowering Tecoma capensis *Yellow: Lemon yellow flowers on tall, glossy leafed shrub.  Feed with slow release 3:1:5 or organic fertiliser in autumn and spring and water regularly for best results. Tecoma capensis *Pink Blush: Beautiful soft pink flowers on tall, glossy leafed shrub.  Excellent as a hedge or interplanted with plumbago.  Can be pruned into any shape, best after flowering, Share this:Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new...

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Bees, Birds and Blooms

Posted by on June 4, 2017 in Gardening | 0 comments

Bees, Birds and Blooms

August 2016 by Karen   (“Earth Probiotic Recycling Solutions”.) Forget about honey, pollen and royal jelly. Think of a world without beans, tomatoes, onions and carrots; not to mention hundreds of other vegetables, oil seeds and fruits that are dependent upon bees for pollination. These industrious insects have been around for over 125 million years and, although bee numbers are sadly declining, the remaining survivors continue to be invaluable to our planet in numerous ways. Bees and plants need one another. Insect pollinators such as bees and flower-bearing plants are the perfect example of a symbiotic relationship in nature. Bees need pollen and nectar for food and honey making; flowers need their pollen transported to other flowers, and then another flower’s pollen brought back in order to reproduce and make seeds. Without bees we’d starve to death. One out of every three bites of food we eat has been pollinated by a bee; they are responsible for about 35% of all food production globally. Honeybees pollinate about 50 crops in South Africa such as apples, asparagus, avocados, blueberries, broccoli, celery, cherries, citrus crops, cranberries, cucumber and melons, just to name a few. Their value to the economy is approximately R10,3 billion per annum. Bee pollination boosts yields. The more bees there are, the more fruit you get. In China, wild bee populations have declined to levels where farmers are now hand pollinating their orchards. Imagine the cost of labour to complete this task as well as the inefficiency. The decline of bee populations shows that somethings wrong in our environment One of the prime suspects of bee die-offs is a dangerous new group of pesticides called neonicotinoids. These pervasive killers are found in crops from corn to almonds, and in products around the average home like pet flea treatments and lawn care products. They are believed to damage the immune systems of bees, rendering them unusually susceptible to disease. Bees are the only insect that produces food eaten by man. Honey is the only food that includes all the substances necessary to sustain life, including enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and water. It’s the only food that contains pinocembrin, an antioxidant associated with improved brain functioning. How to encouraging bees and other pollinators to our gardens An insectary garden designed to attract bees and other pollinators will increase your harvest of fruit and vegetables. Insectary gardens play an important role in preserving the diversity of ecosystems in modern times. Native plants, which provide food and nectar for many more insects than non-native plants do, are the foundation of a pollinator-friendly garden. Pollinators depend on combinations of plants that bloom from spring through summer and autumn. It is a good idea to include a variety of flowers in your garden that will bloom at different times of the year. Bees are especially attracted to blue, purple, and yellow flowers. Native wildflowers provide bees with the most nutritious pollen and nectar, whereas many hybrid varieties are often all show, offering little or no nectar. Wildflowers also require less care than other imported varieties of flowers; often requiring less water, fertiliser, and pesticides than showy exotics. Single flowers are best – those with one ring of petals provide more nectar and pollen than double flowers, in which extra petals have replaced pollen-laden anthers. Similarly choose...

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It’s About Time We All Learned How Quinoa Grows

Posted by on June 3, 2017 in Gardening | 0 comments

It’s About Time We All Learned How Quinoa Grows

Julie R. Thomson  Taste Senior Editor, HuffPost.  Quinoa, the protein-packed seed that everyone loves to eat, has taken ahold of our pantries. Even though it hails from South America ― most famously Bolivia and Peru ― many homes north of the equator have found ways to incorporate it into our breakfasts as a porridge, and we’re happy to fry it up into patties for dinner. Not to mention all the different ways you can turn it into a salad. Since quinoa has become such a staple in our diet, we thought it was time to know where those tiny seeds come from. In other words, how does it grow? If you don’t already know, you’re about to. RODRIGO BUENDIA VIA GETTY IMAGESA field of quinoa plants. Quinoa is harvested from tall green plants. While the plant sprouts are slow-growing at first, the plant eventually shoots up to and beyond three feet. The leaves of the plant resemble that of the edible weed lamb’s-quarter. The two are closely related, which means that the leaves of quinoa are also edible (so if you grow your own, feel free to toss them into a salad). RODRIGO BUENDIA VIA GETTY IMAGESA field of green quinoa. Quinoa thrives in cooler weather, and is extremely drought tolerant. It can also tolerate high levels of salt, wind and frost, which allows it to be cultivated in high risk areas. That’s why it was a main crop in the Andes, cultivated by the Incas since before 3,000 B.C. The part of the quinoa plant that we typically eat is the seed. (Remember, quinoa is a seed and not a grain.) In order to get the seed, the plant first needs to flower. This is what flowering quinoa looks like: TEMMUZCAN VIA GETTY IMAGESA field of flowering quinoa. And this is a closeup of the flower buds. DAVID MERCADO / REUTERSA closeup of flowering quinoa. Quinoa is ready to harvest when all the green leaves have fallen off the plant, and the plants are just seed heads on a stalk. Quinoa should be very dry when harvested, dry enough that you can’t dent the seed with your fingernail. Sometimes it’s left to dry on the stalk, other times it is dried post harvest. IMAGE BY CRISTOBAL DEMARTA VIA GETTY IMAGESA field of ready-to-harvest quinoa. Once harvested, the quinoa seed is fairly easy to remove from the seed heads. A hard shake can release most of them. DAVID MERCADO / REUTERSSeparating the seed from the seed head. But in commercial production they might use something a little more advanced. Quinoa needs to be polished or rinsed before eating to remove the seeds’ saponin coating ― the plant’s natural protectant from birds and insects ― which can taste quite bitter. AIZAR RALDES VIA GETTY IMAGESA quinoa processor in Bolivia. Share this:Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new...

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