Posts in Pests & Diseases

Bad year for Cherry and Pear slugs

Wood ash for treating cherry and pear slug

Getting the wood ash ready to treat the cherry and pear slugs

Judging from the number of slugs on my cherry tree and from the number of visitors to my blog looking for answers this has been a bad year for cherry and pear slugs. For those who aren’t familiar with it, they are a small black slug between a few millimetres and 2 cm long that feed on the leaves of cherries and pears. If you have leaves on your tree that end up looking like lace, then you probably have cherry slugs.

If a post last year I talked about using wood ash as a dusting to controls the slugs.
You can use pyrethrum spray but that kills the good insects as well as the bad, so this year I took my own advice and went for the wood ash. Initially it looked good but the devils kept coming. I was almost going to give up and reach for the bottle (of spray that is, not alcohol!) but I persevered with the ash but it seems to have worked. continue reading..

Brown rot control in your fruit – organically.

Brown rot

One of my email subscribers just wrote to me and asked about brown rot in nectarines.  As I had just posted about my great nectarine crop, I thought it would be a good idea to share the reader’s question for the benefit of everyone.  Brown rot is a common problem that affects not just nectarines, but most fruit including apples, cherries and peaches.

Brown rot is a fungus (Monilinia laxa and M. fructigena) that infects the fruit causing it to rot on the tree, and can spread to the branch as well.  Damaged fruit are more susceptible.  Here goes:

Hi Matthew,

Thanks. I find your tips and chart very useful over here in Sydney. I have a question on my nectarine tree.  This is the second year in a roll that they suffered from brown rot. The rotted fruits hanged on and dried up on the now dead branches. I have cut off these branches and throw away any of the rotted fruits that I can find. Any suggestion as to the cure for this? Will Copper Sulphate spray help?

Simon

Hi Simon,
 
Thanks for your question and I’m glad you find the tips useful.  Thankfully brown rot isn’t a condition I have had much of a problem with in my trees, but it can be a real issue as you describe.  It sounds like you are doing the right things with pruning off infected fruit and branches.  You should also collect any infected fruit from around the base of the tree.  Don’t put them on the compost heap.  Either burn or place the affected parts in a plastic bag and throw in the rubbish.
 
In addition you can use Bordeaux mixture as a preventative.  You should spray as the buds start to swell in spring.  It is said you shouldn’t spray the mixture while the tree is in leaf, but I have done it in the past and haven’t seen any negative effects.  The ABC has a great fact-sheeton making and using Bordeaux mixture, though their measurements make a very large batch, so I would scale it down.
 
Also from a preventative point of view you should prune your tree to have an open goblet shape.  This will let sunlight and air into the centre of the tree.  This will help dry out the foliage and fruit faster, discouraging the growth of fungus, plus it will help the fruit ripen faster.  The RHS has a page on thisfor apples, but the principles are the same for other trees.I hope that helps.  Let me know how you get on next year.Matt

 

Pear and Cherry Slug Control

Pear and Cherry Slugs

Pear and Cherry Slugs

Pear and cherry slug is a common problem in my area, mainly due to the fact that this was a fruit growing area of Melbourne which has left the area with an endemic problem of fruit tree pests. Pear and cherry slug control is a task that I have grappled with ever since I put my cherry tree in a few years ago.

Initially I wasn’t familiar with the problem but as the leaves on my cherry tree were gradually reduced to skeletons I knew that I had an issue. A bit of research revealed that it was pear and cherry slug and I quickly deduced that some sort of control was going to be necessary. A quick spray with pyrethrum spray seemed to sort the devils out.

The pear and cherry slug is the larvae of the sawfly. The adult sawfly lay their eggs on the leaves of the cherry or pear tree which then hatch to for the slugs. The slugs proceed to eat the leaves of the tree, producing the distinctive lace like pattern that is indicative of the problem. On a closer look you will see the small black slugs on the leaf.

Once the slug has reached maturity it will drop to the ground and pupate. After it completes that process it will emerge to fly back up to the leaves of the tree to lay its eggs. There are two lifecycles a season, so that is why pear and cherry slug control is important, otherwise the second, heavier wave can really decimate an already weakened tree. continue reading..

The snail blitz worked!

My un-eaten beetroot seedlings!

Maybe I am soft but for many years I have felt terribly guilty about squashing snails, feeling that they had a right to exist in my vegetable patch as much as I did.  The result, however, was that I could never grow anything from seed – it would always get eaten – and even bought seedlings rarely lasted the week.  I tried beer traps with my duff homebrew batches, but the snails seemed to prefer my lovely seedlings to the beer.

But this year I toughened up.  No more mister nice guy.  Any snail or slug found within slithering distance of the vegie patch was promptly dispatched to a better place (not on this earth if you catch my drift).  My strategy has included nightime forays into the garden, torch in hand, squashing shoes on foot.   As a result I have managed to grow a whole punnet of basil, a crop of lettuces and the beetroot seeds you see above have burst forth unmolested.  I still don’t like squashing them, but the results have been worth it.

Sulphur is the go for mildew!

Sulphur powder on the vine leaves

I went to look for copper sulphate as I talked about in my last post but it proved to be harder to find. I did manage to get some at a local stock feed store, but along the way I found some where selling powdered sulphur.

It turns out sulphur is also good for fungal infections. So after doing some research on the Gardening Australia website I found that Bordeaux mixture is best used during winter when the plants have no leaves and that powdered sulphur can be dusted onto plants with mildew. So that’s what I’ve done. I’ll let you know how they get on.

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