By GEOFF MIERS
After the light rains over the past month it’s inevitable that garden pests and weeds will quickly emerge and the home gardener must be alert and proactive in managing potential issues.
Weed management must become a priority as literally thousands of weed seeds will have germinated in the soil and are fast emerging.
Failure to act now will quickly see your garden overrun with a vast variety of summer weeds.
Couch, buffel, three-corner jacks, ruby dock, khaki weed, Mexican poppy (where river sand has been spread), wild turnip, prickly lettuce, mosman burr, fountain grass and fleabane are some of the many weed grasses and annual plants that are emerging now.
Chipping, scuffing with your feet, mulching or applying a weedicide to kill them off before they become a problem are management methods that can be used.
When the weed problem is addressed over the next week these weeds will quickly disappear with no later works required.
Allow the weeds to develop and their removal becomes a real chore. I’ve literally had millions of little plants emerge already and I immediately sprayed and hopefully no further toil. I may need to spray once more in another week or two as more weeds emerge.
I sprayed with glyphosate 360 at the rate of 15mls per litre with a small quantity of wetting agent added to improve coverage and improve the sticking ability of the spray.
Where grasses are emerging amongst existing plants glyphosate can’t be used as it will also kill the plants. You need to use a selective weedicide like fusillade as it only effects grasses and has absolutely no affect on any other plants.
Three Cornered Jack: Some gardeners welcome them as favourite pickings for Orange Tailed Black Cockatoos.
Fusillade applied at 10mls per litre with again some wetting agent applied will kill all grasses and have no effect on any plants. It will not kill off other weed plants like the prickly lettuce, burr plants and other succulent weed plants.
With “soft” weeds make up your own mix using vinegar, salt, dishwashing liquid and water it works on annual opportunistic weeds.
After dealing with the weeds my attention will now turn to dealing with the likely explosion of pests and disease likely to happen as the country and gardens burst into life with both good and “bad” bugs.
Snails and slugs, slaters, aphides, mealy bug, vegetable bugs, citrus butterfly, grubs and caterpillars, African black beetle and army worm in lawns, and scale insects and a variety of other pests are likely to appear over the next few weeks.
Failure to react quickly can see serious outbreaks occur with significant damage being caused to your garden plants. Walk your garden daily closely examining your plants.
Dead or dying patches or areas where it looks like the top has been eaten out of your lawn grasses will indicate the arrival of African lawn beetle or army worm. All over town for the past couple of weeks the Army Worm has been causing devastation in peoples lawns.
Where the lawn looks like it has been “mowed” on top it is the army worm at work. Where patches simply are dying off its generally the larvae of the African Black Beetle.
Ruby Saltbush self-seeded on a rural block.
You will need to act quickly and follow up the initial treatment of your lawn with another application 10 to 14 days later to break the life cycle of these lawn pests. With the Army Worm you can spray the lawn.
In the vegetable garden, herb bed or other areas where select plants are being eaten by grubs and caterpillars consider using the biological control Dipel. It’s safe for humans, birds, pets or other creatures in your garden however its deadly for all caterpillars and grubs.
You may need to apply Dipel every 10 to 14 days or after each fall of rain. You can apply Dipel to your vegetables and eat them an hour later, it has absolutely no effect on humans.
Dipel is also effective on lawns for army worm. Give your lawn a big drink then spray the Dipel and leave the water off for three to four days.
While temperatures are below 35 degrees it is safe to use white oil on a range of pests including mealy bug, scale, white fly, thrip and aphides. However do not use white oil if temperatures climb above 35 degrees as the oil can cause severe foliage burn.
Many gardens in 2016 were devastated by literally millions of grasshoppers, we guess what they are again emerging and back again. The little green grasshoppers can suddenly appear in their hundreds and can quickly cause considerable damage.
On my small fruit trees I have been hosing the trees down daily with a sharp jet of water and then pouncing on them. Alternatively if unable to manage them this way I may resort to “chemical warfare”.
For food producing plants I use Malathion with a little wetting agent while with non food plants I use Carbaryl and again with a little wetting agent. Carbaryl is by far the most effective chemical particularly on those large grasshoppers the size of a small bird.
There are many different chemical controls to manage garden pests. Firstly positively identify your pest problem and seek assistance when choosing what method of control you are going to use. This is so important.
Sometimes home gardeners seek the first thing they find in their garden shed and it may well be totally useless. Seek advice and be sure your efforts are not a waste of time. Many gardeners waste many dollars by applying the wrong management tool or chemical with the garden pest happily continuing to munch away in the garden.
With the light rains a variety of disease problems may emerge. Again seek advice to ensure you applying the right treatment to manage the disease problem.
I just wish we could have some good downpours that will fill the localised basins that can hold the water and ensure locals who rely on this water supply can have plenty and not find their bores running dry or becoming extremely salty and unusable.
PHOTO at top: Trees in the Telegraph Station have been protected from fire by removing vegetation from the bottom of their trunks.