Jan's Corner

White Butterfly

from the May newsletter

Oh, the sweet taste of brassicas. Such a diverse and flavourful bunch of greens. The crunch of cabbage. The richness of broccoli. Unfortunately our taste for these hearty vegetables is equally shared by one of gardening's most frustrating characters: White Butterfly (Pieris Rapae). The caterpillar form of the white butterfly has a ferocious appetite. Once it hatches from its egg, it eats its own eggshell before beginning to devour the host plant. As we near the end of Autumn, they should be much less of a problem, however those in warmer places should keep their guard up - give them just a few days to roam and they will leave your brassicas in ruins.

Compost - Black Gold

from the April newsletter

Everyone has their own take on composting, some gardeners inherit family recipes passed down through generations while others take tips from veteran neighbours.

Putting some effort in to maintain a healthy pile and produce that black, crumbly gold is certainly worth it and something even those with limited space will benefit from.The biggest mistake I see is the pile is either too wet or too dry. Your pile should be well watered while you are making it up, then covered, keeping the moisture in. This will keep the temperature up, killing weed seeds and pest eggs especially. It will also help it break down quicker. You need to keep checking the pile to determine what needs to be done and remedy any problems.

Tip: Banana or citrus skins should be left out of composting, unless they are organically grown. The skins will go mouldy in your heap and form antibiotics, which kill off the good micro-organisms in the compost. You can soak these skins in water to ferment them before putting them on the heap to avoid this problem.

Mustard greens & biofumigation.

from the March newsletter

It has been a challenging season for bugs and viruses. In March I will sow mustard greens to sterilise the soil and control soil borne pests and diseases. Mustard greens, and especially the varieties that were bred from Oriental Mustard (Brassica Juncea) variety, are a well known biofumigant, and can be used as ground cover then turned into the soil before they go to flower. You'll want to turn the leaves into the soil quickly once they are cut, as a lot of the helpful stuff is released into the air in about 20 minutes. This stuff ("glucosinolates") when combined with water will do some complicated and very useful work in the soil. The same stuff is also responsible for Mustard Greens' spicy taste. More Here

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