Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Pests and predators, nematodes and the VEGE GARDEN COMPANION!!

Despite a big party the night before, we managed to have a lovely little workshop on pests and predators in the Clarke st backyard on Sunday morning. We lingered a long time on the subject of nematodes - my place being nematode central.

pest and predators workshop in the flowery garden
 We also got to see some impressive aphid infestations (grey cabbage aphid) on my Broccoli as well as the many predators at work, which included 2 types of wasp (Chalcid wasps are the tiny ones), Hover flies and lady beetles. There were also Tachnid flies but more brightly coloured than the ones in this link. Pest life cycles in the garden were discussed and ways of manageing them. With the cabbage aphid for example, i try to slow their expansion in the garden by pulling off the first infested leaves that i see- or even  whole plants. This way i can have a longer period of picking broccoli without aphids. Eventually they take over but this is usually after I'm sick of picking the million tiny offshoots and have moved onto another vegetable - like Asparagus. Any sprays that i have tried to use make things look worse than they were with just the aphids so i haven't bothered for years.
To minimise the cabbage aphid i also try not to have any brassicas in the garden over summer - a brassica free period. By doing this I reduce the opportunities for this pest to make an early appearance in the garden the following spring. The predators however can parasitise other aphid species (i think) so they still stay around.

So much is in flower in the garden at the moment - especially the plants which are great food for predators like Hover fly and Tachnid flies. We have Thyme, Sage, Marjoram, Evening primrose (seems to flower a lot of the time), Coriander, Rocket, Broccoli, and  Parsley.

Of course the whole reason for this workshop, which i have neglected to say was the Gardens for Food workshop series. As part of the gardens for food funding we also decided to do an update of the much loved Alice Springs Vege Garden Companion. This publication is designed to fill the  gaping hole  which is a lack of easily accessible written material on gardening in the arid zone.
Well done Katrina Button for putting it together - and so beautifully! We hope that this book will allow people to garden with less mishaps and mysteries and more success and wonderful food. Look for it at Arid Lands Environment Centre, Geoff Miers Garden Solutions, Afghan Traders, Bloomin Deserts and an increasing number of other garden centres i imagine.

Now i had to include this photo of the rabbits because it sort of looks a bit like a bunny flower when they all have their heads down. They are powering through their food at the moment and the bowls are always empty when i come back from work or in the morning. BUNNIES FOR SALE - in case you were wondering.

There has been a bit of an undercurrent to my posts of late - the party was our going away party, and there was a lawn sale before that. The house is sold  (unlike the bunnies - yet) and we are a-movin. Going to be with my apple trees on our farm down in Vic. My blogging will also migrate over to Under the Chestnut tree as the family starts another gardening adventure on a much bigger patch of land.


  1. Congrats on the move, I look forward to hearing about your adventures on the other homestead.

    I still smile at the battles I used to wage with aphids, battles I never won. Now I pretty much ignore them and let the predators keep them in check...I seem to have fewer aphids now then ever before as a result.

  2. Thanks Mr. H. It is heartening to see that someone like yourself with a bigger patch to tend still finds time to post and share your journey with the community.I'm hoping i still find the time.
    I enjoy watching the predators come in and control the aphids and clean up everything so beautifully. This year i think they have done a better job than usual. I think there were a few people who were a bit incredulous that i was not spraying the horrible hordes!