Friday, September 27, 2013

How to add Gypsum to soil

Gypsum (calcium sulphate) is added to soils that are heavy in clay which can be really sticky. Adding lots of organic matter such as compost with the gypsum helps to break down the clay to be easier on the plant roots to grow and not become water-logged.

Gypsum also releases minerals within the soil structure which where bound up in the clay particles so that they become available for plant nutrition.

Make sure that you use natural garden Gypsum, not the white builders' variety.

Ratio for Gypsum: 0.5-1kg to 1m2 of soil (dig through)

How do I know if I have clay soil?

Poor drainage is the first sign. There might be signs of moss, but not in every case. Grass may not grow in that area or plants that have been previously planted there never seem to thrive.

When the soil it moist, grab a handful and squeeze it together. If it stays firm, in shape and not crumbly it will be clay soil. Good loamy soil will soon fall apart and not stay in shape.

Do a 2 foot test hole first. Fill with a full bucket of water and time how long it takes to drain.
If water is takes 12-24 hours to drain you can be sure its a clay soil.

A second test is to use a glass of water. Drop in a 6mm size piece of dry soil. Let it stand for 24 hours without moving or stirring it. If it slowly falls apart in the water this soil should respond to gypsum being added. If it does not dissolve it might not be worthwhile to add the gypsum as the soil will not respond.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Dog Vomit Mold

Fresh slime mold
There's something new in my garden every month, but this find takes the cake!

I find all sorts of different fungi in my front garden (because there are no chickens out there to scratch it around). The mulch layer in the garden beds have grown practical lab specimens!

This month, however, sees a new sort of growth that is NOT a fungi but a mould.

Commonly known as Dog Vomit Mold (or Mould).
Also known as Fuligo Septica, which is a species of slime mold.

It is often found in bark mulch in urban areas after heavy rain or excessive watering.
They often appear in Spring or Summer following soaking rains.

It started out as a white mass, progressed to a dust pink, to a brown and then to a camouflage grey colour as it withers away.

Dog Vomit Slime Mold is also known to be yellow or orange in colour. Theses are often referred to as Scrambled Egg Slime.

This species is known to cause asthma and allergenic rhinitis in susceptible people.

Withered slime mold

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Frothy stuff on the plant stem

My children were all excited thinking that there were new cocoons in our front garden, hoping to see the life cycle of a butterfly, but came the morning light they discovered that they were more like frothy bubbles on the rosemary bush stem. Frothy like frog spit, but there are no frogs in our garden at the moment. So running back inside they grabbed me to help identify what it could be.

The answer is the Spittlebug or Spittle Bug, also known as the Froghopper.

What are they?

Spittle Bugs are a relative of the aphid family.
Both adult and nymphs are sap sucking insects.
When they become adults they will grow wings and look like a leafhopper.

There are over 23,00 different Spittle Bugs varieties!
Eggs are laid during summer or spring. Hatching occurs in the following spring.

They are commonly found in junipers, pine trees, eucalpyts and rosemary plants, but not exclusively.

What do they do on the plants?

Spittle Bug nymphs attach themselves to plants by their mouthparts. Once attached they feed on the plant sap. Its their consumption of the sap, water and carbohydrates, that help them produce the formation of the their spittle or frothiness.

Why do they create the frothiness?

They create the froth on the plant stem for three main reasons:

  1. To protect them against predators.
  2. To prevent water loss and functions as a thermal controller.
  3. It insulates them from temperature extremes.

Do they cause damage?

Severe Spittle Bugs attacks can cause stunted growth of a plant, however these bugs are not considered as serious pests. Often associated with black sooty mould on tree branches. They prefer the young shoots to adhere to.


If you are at all worried about these bugs on your plants, simply blast them with the spray of the hose to detach them to encourage them on their way. No need for chemical sprays.

If spraying is required for severe infestations, use maldison.

They are often well controlled by predators, such as small birds, spiders, assassin bugs, ladybirds/ladybugs, and lacewigs. Eggs, nymphs and adults are often parasitised by flies and small wasps.

Spittle Bug

Robusta Photinia Fraseri in Bloom

The Robusta Photinia in my yard is in full bloom. This year's flowering is particularly spectacular and full of very happy honey bees.

Another plant to add to the list to attract the bees♥

Honey Bees Infographic

We often think of bees as those pesky bugs, who’s only purpose is to annoy and sting. But the honey bee actually has great importance to our environment. This infographic from Green Living will show you all the value bees have, and you'll think twice next time before you swat any bees away.

Please share and spread the love and appreciation for bees in our garden.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Leaves and Blooms 2013

It is so exciting to see all my new fruit trees developing leaves and blossoms for the very first time in the first week of Spring.

All of my citrus trees all have new leaf growth and have all been fed with dried chicken manure that has been left to stand for a season before being used.

My espalier Plum has shown its first leaves this weekend. So thrilling to finally see.

The Fig tree is the most rapid growing tree I have ever seen!

The Dwarf Peach has been the most pretty to watch open in blossom.

Even the Apricot tree is starting to blossom!

Beautiful Spring♥