Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Trialling Yates Waterwise Drought Shield Spray

I finally have one...yes one...very healthy, bushy green and flowering hydrangea. It is a big achievement for me as every hydrangea I have ever grown has never survived the harsh summers in my Adelaide suburban garden.

Hydrangeas is my part of Adelaide need to potted and never directly planted straight into the garden, so that they can be moved on extreme weather days. The Adelaide Hills provides a completely different environment altogether, and can be easily planted out permanently in the garden.

I normally move delicate pot plants such as hydrangeas inside on very hot days, but there are times when I under estimate the suns intensity on slightly less hot days. And that's when plant sun burn can strike!

So this month I am trialling a product from Yates called Waterwise Drought Shield ($9.95 at Bunnings) to help me through this summer.

Drought Shield also helps to protect against light frosts. Yates recommends that plants be sprayed in early autumn for best protection against frost, and reapplied every 30 days until the risk of frost has passed.

Yates Waterwise Drought Shield claims to protect plants from heat, water loss, drying winds, frost and transplant shock.

Yates does warning that some plants such as bromeliads and ferns may be sensitive to the spray, so always do a test spot on a leaf first and inspect the next day to see if it is suitable for your plants.

I shall be keeping a keen eye on my plants this season to see how good Drought Shield performs.

UPDATE February 2014

Two and a half months later, did the Yates Waterwise Drought Shield work?

As you know I was trying this product out on two hydrangea plants at different ages.

The older one definitely responded well and coped through the hotter days although not unscathed. There were some leaves with burns, but it is now starting to bloom again and that is in a strong heat wave. I have moved it in doors on the days that are above 35ÂșC. I still take my precautions. But the bounce-back rate on those hotter days have really improved dramatically.

The younger hydrangea unfortunately did not like the Drought Shield and died. But the packaging instructions do warn that not all plants will tolerate the spray, the younger plants in particular.

Here's my survivor. She is ready to show her next blooms!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Amazing insect life in my garden

I challenged myself this Spring to see if my new planting arrangements and soil conditioning had changed what bug life was coming into my garden. I wanted to attract the beneficial bugs to eat up the other invaders that I suffer with every year.

The good news is that the aphids are fully under control thanks to the small wasps and hover flies. You know when they have been busy because they leave aphid mummies behind on the leaf.

The hover flies have been particularly active this year and in higher numbers. They seem to be particularly attracted to the German Camomile flowers which are a new addition this year.

I have been trying to restrain myself this year from squashing the aphids with my fingers just to see if the beneficial bugs are doing their job. Yes, they are!  My patience has paid off.

I did discover a good number of ladybugs especially in amongst the agapanthus, in the jasmin tree and on the clothes on the washing line. Never in heavy numbers, just regular sightings that seems to be up since last year.

There are good and bad ladybugs. So from my own observations I believe that they have all been excellent and most welcome in my garden. The colours have varied between the red and orange/yellow varieties. The more yellower variety of ladybug will feed on mildew fungus. That's a bonus!

Bees are especially welcome to my garden. The sunflowers and broad beans have been keeping the visiting bees very happy!

The blow flies have been particularly bad this year, but many people I know far and wide throughout South Australia are reporting the same thing at the moment.

Moths are also on the increase with the more spectacular larger moths with the 'eyes' on their wings coming into my garden for the first time ever. The moths and butterflies really seem attracted to the calendula flowers, which are also new to my garden this year.

There are also plenty more insects that I cannot identify as yet, but I know that they are really enjoying their home amongst the new flowers beneath the plum espalier.

What is the benefit of Beneficial Bugs?

Less sprays, less chemicals, let nature balance the garden. Whenever any bug or insect population gets out of of hand then there is a missing predator that should be there. A good mix of plants promotes a good relationship between the mini beasts, providing a habitat and food source. Overall, its money saving and environmentally sound.

Bugs are welcome...within moderation. :)