It’s been a darn good summer and tested  us as gardeners.  Extremely sunny across New Zealand.  The combination of northwest winds and the ‘blocking high’ resulted in record January sunshine across the eastern South Island. Temperatures were above average. Of the six main centres in January 2013, Auckland was the warmest, Dunedin the coolest, Wellington the wettest and Tauranga the driest and sunniest.

Veggies have been coming out in barrow loads.  Italian onions ( planted before November 10, ) Waited until all the tops had fallen over.  Garlic got an early start in pots.  Don’t cut back your garlic until completely browned off.  That ensures they will keep well.

My Italian breed tomatoes were wonderful.  Saint Pierre tomato was lovely with its thin skin.  They don’t grow them commercially because they can’t pack.

Had a lot of rain in the last twenty four hours

The cucumbers, both Lebanese and telegraph have performed well.

The weather does tell us what’s happening.  Noticed there are lots of red spider mite. They have a soft small body barely visible to the naked eye.  In their juvenile stage they have three pairs of legs, while adults have four pairs of legs.  Generally they are red in colour.

Eggs are laid in small clusters on the underside of leaves near the mid vein. The whole life cycle from egg to egg can be as short as 8 days.  Feed on a wide variety of plants, causing speckling and bronzing of leaves.

Spray your rhododendrons for thrips.  Use Orthon or Conquidor.  An adult thrip is only about 1 millimetre long. It buries its eggs  in leaves, flowers or fruit. Both larvae and adults suck out the contents of soft plant tissue.  Thrips are tiny, long slim insects that cause leaf twisting and silvering leaves.

There are a lot of white fly around this year. They are small white winged sap-sucking flies that are not true flies.  They resemble tiny white moths with a wingspan of 3mm. Whiteflies have become prevalent in recent years.  It the plant is disturbed a cloud of tiny insects fly out but they soon settle back onto the same plant  White fly are best controlled using alternating sprays such as Confidor, Target, Natures Way Pyrethrum and Super Shield. Spraying is best done early morning or late afternoon.  Sooty mould often accompanies large numbers of white fly as they excrete honeydew when feeding on plant tissue. It is important to control white fly.  They spread other diseases  Spray the ground.

Q;    If you cover ground with mulch, would it help?

A;    Suspect it would help.

Q;    I have an old rose that has gone yellow and brown?

A;    Could be very old – they don’t always live forever.  Could be a root disease.

Suggest prune out the infected area. A brown stain in the centre would suggest root rot.

Q;    Cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and silver beet all eaten alive. What is it ?

A;    Green caterpillar.  Use Success and spray regularly.


Walking around the city the lawns are looking hot and bothered.  People are cutting their lawns far too low.  Raise your flippin lawnmowers up.

I noticed some dahlias showing different colours on the same flower head, This is called ‘sporting’  This can be quite common in some plants.

This is the time of the year to be taking cuttings.

Potato psyllids not as bad as last year. They look like an aphid except they jump.. They appear as a light lime green dot on the underside of leaves.  The tops of potatoes go very yellow. Keep turning the leaves over. Spray with any insecticide that would control aphids. Observe the withholding period before using. Also concentrate the spray on the underside of the leaves and also on the older leaves at the base of the plants.

My early crop potatoes ( Cliff Kidney and Jersey Bennies ) I did not spray at all.  It also pays to spray your peppers.

Please check this link to white fly.