3 little words: water, birds, pests

20 January 2013
Written by Kath Irvine | Images by Kath Irvine
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Birds: We’ve had the rosellas in trying out the unripe apples. The horsehoe shape they create with their lower beak is a dead giveaway as opposed to the puncture wound of a blackbird or sparrow. It’s important to identify your pest before planning your control. If it were a possum I’d know by the scratches on the bark, broken branches possibly and there would be leaves eaten as well (especially new ones). I’ve ordered in a hawk kite, and am eagerly awaiting its arrival. Will let you know how well it works.

Water: I raved on about water last month so enough said. Just do it!

Pests: Keep your beady little eye out for problems. The first pear slug has reared its ugly head. By December last year my pears and plums we’re covered in them, so I’m thrilled to have so few later in their season. The difference is our chooks, who spent winter beneath the trees gobbling up the over wintering slugs, and I added Neem granules in spring. This obviously works so I’ll repeat the cycle.

A few handfuls of wood ash thrown over the affected trees have stopped the current small pear slug population in its tracks. Don’t be fooled into thinking you’ve gotten rid of a pest or a weed. Sorry to say, pests are never over! They’re a management issue, and usually you’ll experience the same ones in a pattern. Learn about them and have a play with solutions that work for you. Incorporate the management into your routines to keep abreast of them.

I snuck off Christmas afternoon with a blanky and a book to lay under my plum tree to get out of the blazing heat.

Looking up at those nearly ripe jewels hanging in the branches lulled me to sleep and I woke later – how delightful to be at ground level. We usually observe our gardens from standing position, but lying down gives a whole new perspective. I highly recommend.

Our orchard is an entomolgists delight. I’ve let it go wild - dandelions, plantain, red and white clover, comfrey, docks, poppies, mustard, queen annes lace and various grasses are all knee high and providing a healthy summer ground cover as well as a haven for insects of all shapes and sizes – many I have no idea what they are, but what a treat to lie there and watch.

Every year the trees grow bigger and the ground cover improves. I can’t help but look forward a few years to 5 and 6 year old fruit trees dripping with fruit and creating a really special place to be.



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