With Michael Coulter

Michael opened February’s meeting with the introduction of a ‘special’ table and problem board that would be available for those members who often wanted to ask a question but did not feel comfortable speaking in an open forum. They would be able to place their questions on the board for discussion at the next meeting of ‘All About Gardening’.

As  usual, Michael started with the weather.  All in all it’s been a pretty average summer.  Sunlight has been well down.   Needless to say it’s still been a good growing season.  Plants are about 10 days late, due to the lack of rainfall.  The daytime temperature has been about 19 – 20 with the average being about 13 degrees.  With those conditions mildew is now appearing everywhere.  Powdery mildew is noticeable on the rhododendrons.  Spray with copper oil.  Make sure you spray underneath the leaves because that’s where the bugs are. Conqueror oil will get the thrips and spider mites.

Wilt is a problem on tomatoes.  To fix that problem, change the growing area and don’t continue to plant in the same area each year. Another problem in tomatoes is bottom end rot caused by a lack of calcium.
Fix by putting lime in the soil.  While judging the annual summer garden completion Michael noticed that many outside tomatoes were struggling to ripen. He pointed out that though they were slow they all appeared to have heavy crops.

Michael spoke at a previous meeting about a new insect that is attacking tomatoes, potatoes and related crops in New Zealand.  He noticed these on some potato crops.  The tomato/potato psyllid is from North America and was first found here in 2006.  It is spreading and Michael noticed several infected plants. The female lays yellow oval shaped eggs.  Inspect your plants regularly for the presence of psyllids so that treatments can be applied while numbers are low. Make sure to spray the underside of the leaves.
Insecticides that control aphids are likely to control psyllids. Another helpful tip is the sticky yellow strip.
During summer judging Michael was amazed at gardener’s green lawns. With water restrictions he was begged to ask the question – ‘’how?’  He was surprised to find that hour after hour was spent hand watering lawns.  Many were completing the task well into the night.

Q:    Can I treat grass grub in my lawns now?
A:     You can do it now but preferred that that task was done much earlier
Carole Anderton said that the crystals has to be soaked thoroughly to be effective and with rainfall
being well down said it was not much point.  She also said ‘neem oil’ for the control of psyllids on
Q:    What can I do about a BIG GINGER TOM spraying on my plants ?
A:    ‘If I knew that I’d be a millionaire’.  Michael then said the simple answer was ‘Get a big dog’
Cynthia Kepple said she found coffee grounds to be very effective.  You can source them from     
your local coffee shop.           
Michael added that planting catnip in the garden deters moggies.
Q:        My roses have rose scale.  What can I do ?
A:        Conqueror oil / Maverick.  Scale is more common around Christchurch now.  Once you notice
the scale,  the insect has been on the stem for a while.
Q:        What do I use to control Black Spot ?
A:         Using a baking soda spray as a preventative early on, before the effect is really noticeable. The use      
of Bravo is still the best.
Once you see the symptoms  –  it’s too late.
Q:        I’m growing courgettes in a pot but they get about two inches long and drop off. ‘What’s wrong?’
A:        The cause is the damp nights.  It is like putting baby to bed for the night with wet nappies.
Michael said ‘I don’t know about you but I’m getting sick and tired of courgettes’
Q:         I planted many different colours of gladioli bulbs but they’ve all gone red. What happened?
A:         Genetically that would be impossible to happen.  Must have been all red when planted.
Michael said it was time to think about planting anemones, ranunculus and freesias.  It is still a little early for daffodils.
Carole Anderton added that she found crushed moth balls scattered around the garden a deterrent for wayward cats.

Members wishing to e-mail their questions to Michael Coulter can do so by forwarding to:
These questions will be answered at the next All About Gardening Meeting.