The compost bin – Riparian forest ‘cleanup’

August 9th, 2011

flyA lady came into the nursery absolutely thrilled to tell me that lately in the mornings she watches a platypus swimming in a small pool near her home. The pool is fed by a spring and the water in the pool is clean and cool. She believes she saw a baby platypus this week. How lucky is she!

The waterways of the Wet Tropics and the forests protecting them are amazing places.  Caring for them so that they remain magic, amazing places is our duty.

Riparian zones are those areas or forests that line waterways.  They are protected by law and in the frenzy of the clean up after cyclone Larry great deal of damage was done to riparian zones across much of the Cassowary Coast.  So after cyclone Yasi, I wrote to the environment section of the Cassowary Coast Regional Council (CCRC) and urged them NOT to repeat the mistakes made after cyclone Larry and I especially cited the example of the ‘clean-up’ that removed much of the riparian forest from Polly Creek.

The Coordinator for the Natural Environment Parks and Natural Environment Section of the CCRC, Melanie Fazackerley, replied to my concerns and assured me that what happened at Polly Creek after cyclone Larry would not be repeated in the Yasi ‘clean up’. Her undertaking has not been fulfilled.  The destruction of riparian vegetation along the fragile watercourses of the Wet Tropics from the ‘clean up’ is worse this time than the undisciplined ‘clean up’ after cyclone Larry.  The main reason, in my opinion, is that there was more money available this time, which gave rise to a greater number of larger machinery being used.

If you or I destroyed a riparian forest on our private properties, we would be prosecuted.  And at the same time we also wouldn’t as we value the special role these forests play in protecting our home from bursting creek banks and truly understand the importance of riparian forests as habitat areas for native wildlife.and their function in enhancing genetic diversity.   Riparian zones also act as a buffer zone to new introductions of pest plants and animals.

A friend of mine at Tully Heads contracted a machinery operator to clean up his broken Melaleuca forest after TC Yasi. Under his supervision, the operator carefully snigged out the broken and fallen trees, being careful to do no more damage to the forest but only clearing the trees out from the water way.  Why could this method not have been used by CCRC and River Trust when they managed the clean up of the waterways after cyclone Yasi? They had a lot more money and manpower than my friend at Tully Heads.

SHAME on you CCRC!  You have destroyed so much of what is special in our region and your officers should be prosecuted.

If you live by a watercourse or by the sea and are lucky enough to have a buffer of natural vegetation between your dwelling and the water, then the only thing you need to do is monitor the area for weeds and rubbish.  Remove all signs of these foreigners and you and your local friends (the wildlife type) will enjoy for many years to come the benefits of a healthy waterway system.

Wongaling Creek clean up

Wongaling Creek clean up

Wongaling Creek cleaned up

Wongaling Creek cleaned up

Wongaling Creek cleaned up

Wongaling Creek cleaned up

Digger Creek cyclone Yasi clean-up

Digger Creek cyclone Yasi clean-up

Digger Creek cyclone Yasi clean-up

Digger Creek cyclone Yasi clean-up

Erosion on the Johnstone River bank following clean-up after Cyclone Larry

Erosion on the Johnstone River bank following clean-up after Cyclone Larry

August in the Vegetable Garden

August 9th, 2011

It is the last month of winter and already the days are hot when in the sun. It is still not too late to plant another crop of tomatoes and any of the quick maturing vegetables like Chinese cabbage and lettuce.

Mulching is important with the warmer days approaching. Mulch is like an umbrella over the soil, keeping the soil cool and preventing evaporation. Water the vegetable garden early in the morning as plants need water to set them up to cope with the heat of the day. They do not want water at night time because when plants are wet at night, fungal diseases are encouraged.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes

Tomatoes will root off their stem so mulch around the stem with enriched compost and mound up to cover the full extent of the tomato root zone. Avoid digging into the soil as tomatoes tend to be surface rooters and a healthy plant will have a root system as large as its canopy. Remove all foliage on the lower part of the stem and reduce the leaves over the whole plant, by at least 50%. In doing so, the plant can put all its strength into growing fruit. Sprinkle a handful of dolomite along the tomato row and the plants should be right for another month.

Cabbages need to be watched for dreaded caterpillars. The white cabbage moth lays her eggs on the underside of the leaves and when they hatch, you may find in one night 100 caterpillars munching a cabbage. Interplanting cabbage with spring onion helps to protect the cabbage plants as the onion smell prevents the moth from identifying individual cabbage plants. Notwithstanding, some moths will get through the barrier so monitor the plants daily. If you do see any caterpillars, wash them off with a hose and spray a little pyrethrum insecticide all over the plant to kill any more lurking caterpillars.

Lettuces need a nutrient-rich soil to grow fresh sweet leaves. Plants grow rapidly so time must be spent in soil preparation. (Once again, grow your soil BEFORE you grow your vegetables!) Before planting lettuce, enrich the soil with sulphate of potash and a complete organic fertiliser like Organic Extra. Plant lettuce in a puddled hole late in the afternoon, supply some shade for the first week and ensure the plants are watered well every morning. Mulch around the plants as this will avoid soil particles spoiling the heart of the lettuce. Regular applications of liquid fertiliser like fish and kelp should ensure a sweet tasting lettuce with a firm heart.

Plant now: Tomatoes, lettuce, beans, zucchini, squash, cucumber, watermelon, Asian cabbage, eggplant, capsicum, corn, spring onions and pumpkin.

Downy mildew on cucurbits in the Wet Tropics

August 9th, 2011

Members of the Cucurbit family have been cultivated for food for over 10 000 years.

This is a large family of plants and they include zucchini, pumpkin, squash, bitter melon, cucumber and sweet melons.

From the ancient deserts of Iraq and Mexico to the highland rainforest of Papua, cucurbits are an important food group. The dried skeletons of some gourds are used for musical instruments, water containers and penis covers: altogether a versatile family of plants.

One thing that these vegetables have in common is a susceptibility to downy mildew.

Downy mildew infections occur in wet, humid weather: even heavy evening dew can cause downy mildew infestation. Also, watering plants late in the afternoon can create the ideal conditions for the growth of the spores of downy mildew.

Downy mildew symptoms firstly appear on the older leaves of the plant, light yellow circular spots spread over the leaves followed by a white powdery down that eventually covers the whole leaf. The diseased plant cells are unable to function and overall plant health rapidly declines.

Cucumber Greengem

Cucumber Greengem

In the Wet Tropics it is best to wait until the dry season before planting cucurbits – August until December. Even then we can still expect some rain and it only takes one wet night for an outbreak of downy mildew to cover every leaf of the plant. Luckily there are varieties of cucurbits that have some resistance to downy mildew.

Cucumber ‘Green Gem’ and pumpkin ‘Jap’ is resistant to mildews and can be grown all year in the Wet Tropics. Rockmelon ‘Hale’s Best’ is resistant to all mildews and can be grown in the Wet Tropics from May until December. Be sure to make the last planting in September as it takes 70 days for this rockmelon plant to produce fruit.

Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash is a vigorous vine with some resistance to mildews if it is kept in strong growth. This can be achieved with regular applications of a seaweed or fish and kelp foliar spray. Grow spaghetti squash from August to November. Watermelon ‘Warpaint’ has some disease tolerance and ‘Charleston Grey’ is resistant to anthracnose and fusarium wilt. Fortunately both watermelons can be grown from June until November.

Bitter melon is a vigorous climbing vine and providing the vines are growing in a raised garden bed in well composted soil, they have some resistance to mildews. Grow bitter melon on a strong trellis in the Wet Tropics from July to November however do protect the plants from heat in late autumn.

Watermelon Charlestongrey

Watermelon Charlestongrey

All cucurbits bear male and female flowers that require pollination. If bees are not active in your garden, then hand pollination must be carried out early in the morning when the pollen is still fresh. The female flowers carry the immature fruit and if not pollinated the fruit will rot and die. This is not a fungal problem.

The young leaves of most cucurbits are mottled with a silver pattern. This colouration is sometimes confused with an outbreak of powdery or downy mildew. If the leaf appears healthy and there is an absence of yellow circular discoloration on the leaves, then there is unlikely to be a problem with the plant.

Organic control of mildews can be successful if treated early. A 50:50 mixture of tea made from chamomile leaves mixed with organic milk and sprayed on the infected leaves at the onset of wet weather can prevent powdery mildew outbreaks. Regular weekly applications will be required when the wet kicks in.

Alternatively, a solution of one tablespoon of baking soda and one tablespoon of detergent in five litres of water sprayed onto the leaves of the plant at the first sign of mildew may control the disease. In addition to the spray, remove all affected leaves and dispose of them away from the garden to maximise success.

Traditional open-pollinated seeds

August 9th, 2011

One day, Alf Finch of Lower Beachmont in Queensland, could no longer buy the vegetable seed that he, his father and grandfather had grown before. Alf found that two-thirds of the traditional open-pollinated seed varieties had disappeared. Open-pollinated seeds are varieties of seed that have been naturally pollinated by bees and wind that carry pollen from plant to plant. “On the other hand,” Alf says “hybrids are formed by closed pollination, where a flower is pollinated with its own pollen through man’s intervention. When two inbred varieties are crossed, a hybrid is the result”.

The staff at Eden Seeds

The staff at Eden Seeds

In 1987 Alf founded Eden Seeds on the belief that home gardeners and all consumers should have access to the best old traditional varieties of seed for growing food. Alf encourages everyone to start their own seed bank. “I believe the best seed banks are the plants grown in our own backyard” Alf said. “Growers need to observe the plants growing locally and experience collecting, drying, cleaning, storing and re-growing. If we cannot access giant seed banks owned by government departments and multi-national companies, and we can’t, we can provide our own. My aim is to get you started.” Alf said.

If you do not have your own seed then you can buy them from Eden seeds (www.edenseeds.com.au) and the web site is regularly updated. The company is made up by an enthusiastic group of growers and office staff who distribute the old, traditional, open-pollinated varieties of vegetable, herb and flower seeds. Eden Seeds is located at Lower Beechmont in the Gold Coast Hinterland and they produce organic seed for home and commercial growers.

Alf describes the traditional garden seed varieties as “our human food heritage. They have been tried and found to be the best over hundreds and hundreds of years” Alf said. Eden seeds offer over 900 varieties of traditional seed varieties, listed in their comprehensive catalogue, detailing the widest range of traditional varieties available in Australia. There is information in the catalogue about saving seed and requirements for plant growth. Everything you need to know to get a vegetable garden started. For the commercial growers there is a large range of bulk seed also listed in the catalogue.

The Zodiac Moth

August 9th, 2011

On a mild, mid-winter day in north Queensland, the migration of the Zodiac moth starts slowly. One or two moths lift into the air and fly up out of the canopy of the rainforest. Soon hundreds of moths join them and the sound of wings flapping fills the air. Suddenly, they connect to a primeval message that instructs them to leave their home and fly counter-intuitively into the southerly breeze. They fly to other forests in their region however in this forest they mate and lay their eggs to complete their life cycle.

Migrations of the Zodiac moth have been reported from the Atherton Tablelands and Russell, Mulgrave and Johnstone Rivers. Russell Constable took a video as he watched one colony of moths leaving a tree at Ella Bay, Innisfail in August 2009. He posted it on the internet at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hpg5Q10uWI Russell told me that although you can’t hear it on the video, the moths were quite noisy as they lifted into the air.

Zodiac moth feeds in the Moresby Range National Park

Zodiac moth feeds in the Moresby Range National Park

In the first week of July this year, out of the deep green shadows of Mt Annie National Park, which lies behind Flying Fish Point on the northern side of the Johnstone River, dark fluttering shadows could be seen moving above the canopy of the rainforest. The wings of the beautiful Zodiac moth created fluttering shadows against the sky. In one’s and two’s the migration started until thousands of moths could be seen emerging from the rainforest. They moved out and flew above the broad mangrove forests that line the Johnstone River. They gained height as they crossed the Johnstone River in their preparation to climb up to the Moresby Range. Relentlessly the moths flapped their strong wings against the south-east trade winds. They were drawn instinctively to the Moresby Range National Park.

Reaching their destination, the zodiac moths plunged into the cool shadows of the rainforest. Exhausted, they landed upside down on the green leaves of the rainforest trees. Day after day more and more new arrivals found a safe haven in the cool depths of the rainforest of the Moresby Range. The migration continued for three weeks.

This month the zodiac moths will feed on the rich protein nectar of the rainforest trees, dipping their long proboscis deep into the flowers of the yellow penda, barringtonia, white oak and satinash. The Zodiac moth plays an important role in pollinating these and other rainforest trees.

This moth will mate and lay their eggs on long silken threads that they hang from their host plants. Host trees include Omphalea queenslandiae and the toywood tree Endospermum medullosum, both are of the Euphorbiacea Family with their poisonous milky sap. The caterpillars eat the leaves of these trees and absorb the poison. This gives them protection from predators. The caterpillars have distinct black bandings on their bodies but the colour of the body can change from lemon to brown. When the zodiac caterpillars pupate, they hide their pupa between leaves that are often dead on the rainforest floor.

On one late spring day, the zodiac moths emerge from their protective chambers and rise into the air. The hatching appears to coincide with the flowering of Melaleuca leucadendren trees and the moths hungrily feed on the high protein nectar of these trees before they disperse to other forests as their ancestors have done before them.

Jacque Duffy

August 9th, 2011

I love gardens; I’m just not much of a gardener. I grew up surrounded by keen gardeners and being dragged out on weekends to visit open gardens. When I say I was dragged I did actually go willingly and I could hold my own in a conversation about the local native plants and trees of the Redland Shire (now city) I just would have preferred like most kids a trip to the beach instead.

Jacque Duffy

Jacque Duffy

In 1994 my husband and I decided to move to the Innisfail area so our children (still babies then) could have the same kind of childhood that we had grown up with, but they would be surrounded by farmland and bush. (Learning about those farms inspired my children’s’ book series.) We bought a run down property at Mena Creek and over the first two years would camp there on weekends, and while my husband was cleaning up I was planting gardens and trees. Those plants grew, I couldn’t believe how well. It seems my brown thumb of the past had disappeared, everything was growing, I determined in Mena Creek you could spit on the ground and it would grow. Neighbours began dropping in cuttings from their gardens; they were generous in their advice and fruiting native plant knowledge too. Once we moved into the almost renovated house, weekends were spent sharing scones and muffins as well as plant cuttings and advice with the neighbours.

Larry was my garden’s downfall. The not quite finished renovated house blew apart and we moved into a shed that until then had been my art studio. But I think I was more upset about my garden and its destruction.

How I cried when the chainsaws took away my trees. Some of those trees had housed my orchids and bromeliads, my bearsfoot and various ferns (one of which had belonged to my great-grandmother). Eventually Mum and Dad came up from Brisbane bringing with them bags of ferns and bromeliads from their garden and my aunts in a bid to restore my garden.

It’s been over five years since Larry and we moved into our new home for New Years (no, not quite finished yet) and the gardens just started looking good again – hello Yasi. I was braver and more heartless this time with clearing the debris. But unfortunately months later with the sun getting to areas of my garden normally under cover the weeds have made it look almost as run down as it did before I moved here. I have a lot of work to do. Better get stuck into it.

Stinkhorn Fungi

July 21st, 2011

This month’s cover photo

Stinkhorn Fungi

Stinkhorn Fungi

The floor of the Wet Tropics rainforest is a wondrous place where many strange but special plants and animals find shelter.

The compost bin – Mourilyan Harbour, the Future

July 21st, 2011

flyMourilyan Harbour was formed in a geological age of melting ice caps and volcanic activity with a history 400 million years old. This magnificent natural formation within a tropical rainforest setting is of outstanding beauty and should be a jewel in the crown of the Wet Tropic’s natural tourist attractions. But it isn’t. Why? One hundred and forty years of political wrangling and self interest has seen this harbour and its surveyed town left out in the cold (see Compost Bin June 2011).

I wrote to Ports North, the member for Kennedy Bob Katter, and the member for Hinchinbrook Andrew Cripps, with the following questioner:

As you know Mourilyan Harbour is of vital importance to the economic development of the Cassowary Coast Regional Council area. It is one of the world’s great natural harbours. Could you please assist me by answering the following questions?

What plans do you have for encouraging investment and promoting;

  1. General cargo handling at Mourilyan Harbour?
  2. Live cattle export?
  3. A cruise ship facility for Mourilyan Harbour?
  4. Also, what plans do you have for:

  5. Providing facilities for the region’s fishing industry?
  6. Providing facilities for recreational fisherman following collapse of CEC?
  7. Providing a safe boat harbour/marina for small craft?
  8. Maintaining and upgrading the current bulk-handling facilities for the sugar industry?
  9. Inviting public consultation on the future of Port Mourilyan?
  10. Upgrading and supporting coast guard facilities to cater for the Cassowary Coast Region?
  11. Environmental Impact Studies to examine the impact of dredging on dugong and turtle-feeding grounds?
  12. Protection of the extensive mangrove forest within the harbour?
  13. Development of the old town of Mourilyan at the harbour?
  14. A shopping and small boat chandlery at Mourilyan?
  15. A small boat repair yard/ slipway facility? and
  16. Exporting wood products from timber plantations in the region?

Replies

Andrew Cripps MP

Member for Hinchinbrook

1. General cargo handling at Mourilyan Harbour

I would support the handling of general cargo through Mourilyan Harbour. The Far North Queensland Ports Corporation would need to facilitate such an activity with an appropriate agreement and approporiate facilities would need to be invested in by the entity proposing to handle the general cargo.

2. Live Cattle exports

I support the export of live cattle through Mourilyan Harbour. I note a facility has already been constructed at the port but is not being utilised. I assume this is due to logistical issues in relation to access by vessels of the appropriate size or capacity and / or the supply of cattle.

3. A Cruise Ship facility for Mourilyan Harbour

While I have no objection to the construction of such a facility in principle, the current users of the port, such as the sugar industry and recreational and commerical fishers, must have their interests preserved. The industrial and local use of the port may not be compatible with a cruise ship terminal.

4. Provide facilities for the region’s fishing industry

Mourilyan Harbour is already the base for a number of commerical fishing operators in the Innisfail district. There was an allocation in the state budget last year through the Far North Queensland Ports Corporation for a new commerical fishing facility but this has not been delivered.  I am pursuing this issue.

5. Provide facilities for recreational fisherman following collapse of CEC

I have pursued this issue for several years and continue to do so. The Bligh Labor Government, like the Beattie Labor Government before it, has promised much but actually delivered very little to the recreational fishers in the Innisfail district regarding boat ramp facilities at Mourilyan Harbour.

6. Provide a safe boat harbour/ marina for small craft

I have no objection to such a facility in princple, but a proposal would need to come forward from a private investor and an agreement reached with the Far North Queensland Ports Corporation.

7. Maintain and upgrade the current bulk handling facilities for the sugar industry

The current bulk handling facilities for the sugar industry are owned by Queensland Sugar Ltd, with the land leased from Sugar Terminals Ltd. Investment in the bulk handling facilities will be determined by QSL and TSL.

8. Invite public consultation on the future of Port Mourilyan

I would welcome the undertaking of a public consultation process on the future use of Mourilyan Harbour.

9. Upgrade and support coast guard facilities to cater for the Cassowary Coast Regional Area

I regularly support the Innisfail Coast Guard in its efforts to upgrade its facilities and resources at Mourilyan Harbour.

10. Environmental Impact study to examine the impact on dugong and turtle feeding grounds

Industrial developments usually require the undertaking of an Environmental Impact Study as part of its approval criteria.

11. Protection of the extensive mangrove forest within the harbour

The mangroves at Mourilyan Harbour would be protected under existing environmental legislation, balanced against its zoning as an industrial port area.

12. Development of the old town of Mourilyan at the harbour

I would welcome the development of the former residential areas at the Harbour.  The area is attractive and would no doubt be popular for its proximity to the harbour for recreational pursposes.  However, an assessment of the available land would need to be made and balanced off against other proposed future commerical uses of the harbour.

13. Shopping and small boat chandlery at Mourilyan

I have no objection to the development of a commerical / business / retailarea in principle.  A private investor would need to enter into an agreement with Far North Queensland Ports Corporation to secure a site to establish such an area at Mourilyan Harbour.

14. Small boat repair yard slipway facility

I have no objection to such a facility in principle. A private business would need to enter into an agreement with Far North Queensland Ports Corporation to secure a site to establish a facility at Mourilyan Harbour.

15. Export of wood products from timber plantations in the region

I support the exporting of timber products in the region through Mourilyan Harbour. Diversifying the use of Mourilyan Harbour is a worthy goal, although I would like to stress again the importance of preserving and protecting the interests of current users, such as the sugar industry and commerical and recreational fishers.

Kerry Egerton

General Manager Corporate Services, Ports North

Thank you for your enquiry.  Attached is a media release we issued last year in relation to planning and development for the Port of Mourilyan.

Media Release

27 August 2010

NEW PORT DEVELOPMENT PLAN FOR PORT OF MOURILYAN

Ports North, the manager and operator of the Far North Queensland’s Ports, will complete a new Development Plan for the Port of Mourilyan to ensure it’s well positioned for future growth.

The new Plan will take into account long term development options for the Port, trade predictions, current and future public use, future berth needs, land and transport requirements and environmental issues.

Chairman, Dr Ken Chapman, said the new Plan was part of Ports North’s drive to ensure the region’s Ports continue to support economic development and growth.

The Ports North Board is inspecting Mourilyan Port today and will take the opportunity to meet with the Cassowary Coast Mayor and Chief Executive Officer along with other key stakeholders to further discuss the Plan.

The announcement comes within weeks of Ports North announcing plans to spend $20 million in capital works for the Port of Cairns and undertaking a major investigation into PNG shipping opportunities.

Speaking after an inspection of the Port of Mourilyan by the Ports North Board, Dr Chapman said Ports North was determined to continue supporting jobs, investment and economic development in the region.

“The Port has always been a critical and essential transport and infrastructure facility for the region as well as an employment generator,” Dr Chapman said.

“There is an existing Infrastructure Plan which is 10 years old, so it is timely to complete a new Development Plan that ensures opportunities for development and growth will be catered for”.

“With the continued growth of mining in the region, we are already fielding enquiries from mining companies about export opportunities from the Port of Mourilyan”.

“Obviously, we are eager to ensure these opportunities can be realised through a new Development Plan”.

“We will also be working very closely with the Department of Transport and Main Roads as they assess freight movements generated by the increased mining activities in North Queensland.”

He said “Ports North also wanted to explore the demand for berthing facilities for commercial and recreational vessels and ensure these are catered for in future Development Plans”.

Dr Chapman said “the Mourilyan community and the Port’s users and stakeholders would be consulted on the new Development Plan”.

Bob Katter MP

Member for Kennedy

Bob Katter's Reply

Bob Katter's Reply

They have no new initiatives. This is not good enough! North Queensland is facing a dire economic future. The high Australian dollar has caused the demise of our tourist industry, and there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Our leaders need to be proactive in searching out sustainable alternatives for the future of north Queensland and refuse to support quick-fix destructive proposals that not only destroy our natural attractions, but are clearly unsustainable. High-coast marina proposals like Boat Bay and Sea Haven will place a huge burden on the ratepayer of the Cassowary Coast: Once completed by the developer we the ratepayers are forced to take over the financial burden of maintaining these expensive high maintenance projects.

Ratepayers dollars should be spent on projects that benefit all ratepayers and not just a privileged few.

We need a safe boat harbour for the region and we have been given one naturally, it is Mourilyan Harbour. We also need a prime tourist attraction and we have one, it is Mourilyan Harbour. We need a center for economic development and we have one, it is Mourilyan Harbour.

July in the vegetable garden

July 21st, 2011

I do not remember such a long spell of cool dry weather. The vegetables in the garden respond wonderfully to this weather and I have heard stories from other gardeners of huge firm heads of lettuce and tomatoes ripening bright red on the bush.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes

However, the cool weather can sometimes cause a drop in the level of nitrogen uptake from plant root systems. To overcome this problem, an application of a foliar fertiliser, like a combined fish and seaweed solution applied to the foliage of the plant, at a rate of one teaspoon to a litre of water and given on a weekly basis is sufficient to provide the nutrients the plants need to grow under these cool conditions.

There are a few problems to look out for in the vegetable garden this month.

Tomatoes, eggplant & zucchini - blossom end rot: this rot can appear at the stalk and end tip of the fruit. It is caused by calcium and or magnesium deficiency. To prevent blossom end rot apply dolomite, which contains calcium and magnesium, at the rate of one cup per square metre around the root zone of the plants.

Heliothis

Heliothis

Budworm in tomatoes, peas, squash, capsicum and cabbage: budworm is the caterpillar of the heliothis moth. The moth has brown forewings with fine intricate, darker markings on the hind wings. The moth lays its tiny eggs on fruit and the eggs take about two weeks to grow and hatch into caterpillars. The caterpillars burrow into the fruit where they eat and continue to grow. At seven weeks the caterpillars are fully grown to 40 mm long.

Heliothis Moth

Heliothis Moth

They fall into the garden soil and pupate. That is why it is important to dispose of all infected fruit by placing it in a plastic bag and putting it in the sun for one week before disposing of the fruit. Putting infected fruit in the compost will perpetuate the problem. To deter the moth and kill any eggs spray the tomato fruit, from pea size, every week with a solution containing one teaspoon of pure citronella oil in one litre of water.

Bean-fly is active at the moment. The adult fly lays her eggs on the leaves of the beans and when the small maggots hatch they burrow into the stems of the beans. The stems swell and show brown discolouration before breaking and followed by the total collapse of the plant. Control bean-fly with a pyrethrum spray when you see the fly active on the beans, or spray the plant on a weekly basis with a teaspoon each of pure citronella oil and eucalyptus oil in one litre of water.

Plant now: climbing beans, beetroot, broccoli, cabbage, capsicum, carrot, cauliflower, celery, corn, cucumber, eggplant, leek, lettuce, peas, pumpkin, silverbeet, shallots, squash, tomato, watermelon and zucchini.

Minplus

July 21st, 2011

Minplus is a fine powdered soil enhancer. It is derived from Cainozoic basalts, which are those formed when lava flows from volcanic activity covered the river valleys of Atherton and Innisfail. These basalts are rich in alkali and alkaline earth elements and the minerals in the basalt includes silicates, calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorus and a range of macro and micronutrients.

Minplus Experiment

Minplus Experiment

Silicates are necessary in the building of plant proteins and synthesis of certain vitamins. Silicates function as a vital element in protecting plants against insects and fungi attack as they strengthen plant cells and assist with metabolism.

Calcium is needed by plants for normal cell division. It is a component of cell walls and helps to maintain strong stems, especially when stressed with heavy fruit (pumpkins).

Magnesium is a key component of the green chlorophyll required for photosynthesis. Plants need magnesium before they can make use of phosphorous.

Iron is needed by plants to regulate and promote growth. It is especially important to the function of chloroplasts, the cells that contain chlorophyll.

Potassium strengthens plant stalks and helps balance the stress induced by excess nitrogen.

Phosphorus is essential for cell division and development of the growing tip of plants. It is vital for seedlings and young plants.

Minplus

Minplus

Trace minerals are essential for plant health but are not required in large amounts. Minplus contains over 70 macro and micronutrients such as copper, zinc, molybdenum and so on.

When a plant fails to thrive we generally pile on nitrogen fertiliser in the form of chicken manure. This does not always solve the problem. The nutrient requirements of plants is every bit as complex as our own personal nutrient requirements. However, the amazing thing is that if the vegetables growing in your garden receive the correct nutrients, you will obtain the benefits later when you eat them. Healthy people eat healthy vegetables.