Organic aphid control
Tender young vegetable and flower seedlings are vulnerable to attack from aphids. Aphids are small, sap sucking insects that can be black, brown, grey or green and are often seen congregating on delicate new leaves unfurling in the centre of the plant or lurking underneath foliage. Aphids deplete plants of valuable nutrients and sugars and can impact plant health and harvests.
Symptoms of an aphid infestation include:
- Leaves curling, distorting or turning yellow.
- Ants running up and down plants. Ants are attracted to the sticky honeydew that aphids excrete.
- Sooty mould, which is a disease that looks like a dark grey covering of ash over leaves and stems. Sooty mould grows on the honeydew produced by the aphids.
- Cool season vegies like broccoli, kale, cabbage, Asian greens and cauliflower are commonly infested by aphids, as are flowers like violas, pansies and poppies.
The odd aphid can be squished between your fingers or hosed off with a squirt from the hose however large, damaging colonies can develop quickly.
To protect plant health aphids can be controlled with Yates Nature’s Way Vegie & Herb Spray. It’s an insecticidal soap based on natural vegetable oils and is certified for use in organic gardening, so it’s ideal for people wanting to use organic methods of pest control in their gardens.
Control the aphids by spraying both sides of leaves, every 5 – 7 days, just to the point of run off.
Yates Nature’s Way Vegie & Herb Spray is available in a handy ready to use pack or in a concentrate for larger gardens.
Make your own compost
If you have deciduous trees and shrubs in your back yard or street, then autumn can provide you with a feast of fallen leaves to create your own compost.
Autumn leaves are rich in carbon but don’t contain a lot of nutrients, like nitrogen, to promote the composting process, so the leaves need to be mixed with kitchen scraps and some handfuls of Yates Dynamic Lifter Soil Improver & Plant Fertiliser before placing in a compost pile, tower or tumbler.
Yates Dynamic Lifter is a rich source of organic nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium from chicken manure, blood & bone, fishmeal and seaweed, which provides food for the composting microorganisms that will help turn the autumn leaves into rich, dark brown compost that you can then mix into your soil.
Here are some easy steps to create your very own compost:
- You can make compost in a ready-made compost bin or tumbler or build a frame out of old timber pallets or wire.
- Place the compost bin in a well-drained spot that ideally has some shade. A hot position in full sun can dry out the compost.
- Collect a range of materials like small twigs, garden prunings, autumn leaves, kitchen scraps and shredded paper.
- Place alternating 5 – 10 cm layers of these materials, plus some handfuls of Yates Dynamic Lifter, into the compost bin, creating a type of compost lasagna.
- Keep the compost moist, but not wet.
- Cover open topped bins with hessian, carpet or cardboard to protect the compost from the elements and help keep it moist.
- Turn the compost with a garden fork (or rotate the tumbler) every 1 – 2 weeks. This allows air in and promotes even composting.
- The compost bin will heat up (usually to around 60 deg C), which is a normal part of the process and indicates that the microorganisms are busy breaking down all the organic matter.
- The compost will be ready in a few months. The process takes longer during winter while the weather is cool. Finished compost is crumbly, a rich dark brown colour, has a pleasant earthy smell and is no longer hot.
Homemade compost can be dug into the soil in vegie and flower beds before planting new plants or scattered around existing plants and then covered with a layer of mulch.