Quote of the Month

There can be no other occupation like gardening in which, if you were to creep up behind someone at their work, you would find them smiling.

~Mirabel Osler

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Club Meeting 8 July - Pests and Diseases

Cindy Jones welcomed Tim Churchill to speak to the 29 club members present about Prevention and Cure of Pests & Diseases.

Tim has extensive experience of spraying for both prevention and treatment, and shared this with those present, answering the many questions from the floor authoritatively.
Although he is due to re-locate to the UK in the next few days, he gave an email that ACG club members can use to contact him with further queries:
Tim explained that there are various products for dealing with diseases and pests in our gardens and he suggested that better value for money was available by buying generic products than some of the proprietary brand names.
He explained the following types of  treatment for dealing with diseases and pests in our gardens (and homes) :-

Systemic - which bind to and are absorbed by the chlorophyll  in leaves. This will be absorbed for a specific period which may be hours, days or weeks - depending on the product. Accordingly, it is important to check how long these chemicals take to completely breakdown if there is fruit to be eaten etc.

Contact - which are mixed with water to create an emulsion (i.e. they do not entirely dissolve in the water) and are sprayed over the entire plant/tree (including the backs of leaves). They are best sprayed at night.
  • Dursban is a popular contact treatment, which was a toxic nerve agent in the World Wars. It is available for retail sale to people with the appropriate spraying qualification. It is important NOT TO INHALE it, but it can be washed of skin and clothes. Dursban is diluted mightily! – 1cc makes a litre!
  • Neem oil is a natural alternative that can be used as a contact treatment, sprayed top to toe, in the evening, but is an expensive alternative.
Barrier - This method creates a barrier preventing damage to the plant. It includes:
  • use of grease bands on the tree trunk or posts. Any grease can be used - e.g. old car oil, but this treatment will need repeating every couple of months.
  • Painting the trunk bark of citrus or other trees in direct sunlight with Lime Wash – or Cal!, to prevent sunburn

Electrolysis - Although Tim did not have direct experience of this he suggested that this worked by using an electric current like an arc welder for electrocuting infestations such as the palm beetle.

  • Cochineal Mealie Bug
Tim warned  of the deadly Cochineal Mealie Bug (which was originally crushed to make lipstick…. albeit a poisonous one! )

This bug climbs up the trunks of roses and citrus trees and proceeds to kill the host. Grease bands around the trunk can prevent them from reaching their target. One can also use ordinary engine grease – a trifle messy….

It is best to kill the nest by using a Dursban spray at night or in the early morning, but this must be repeated twice more at 2 week intervals.
As a preventative spray use every 5 weeks.
Alternatively the spray Previn Chlorpyrifos may be used at a dilution of 2ml per litre. But this must be sprayed separately from any other chemical, as they do not mix correctly together.
The bugs can also be killed by nematodes bred to eat them, but these predatory insects are notoriously difficult to keep and transport to the site required in Spain unless using a direct courier service.
  • Aphids

Any aphids on plants are bad news. Ants are busy critters – they “farm” aphids – they deposit them on trees and plants and milk them. One of the easiest, cheapest and best ways of dealing with aphids is to spray with diluted washing up liquid, which asphyxiates them! 
A product called Tensive works just as well and is even cheaper than Fairy!
  • Mealy bugs
Use Dursban once per month to kill Mealy bugs in the soil.
  • Fruit flies
Fruit flies attack fruit the moment it falls to the ground! The flies exit the fruit and start eating – then they burrow into the soil awaiting the next “cascade” of food. Clear the ground below trees of fallen fruit as soon as possible. One should turn over the top 5 inches of the soil beneath the trees to kill the flies.
Water with a product called Karate is good for this.
  • Palm Beetle

We learned that the Palm Beetle was now moving on to attack our Strelitzias (Bird of Paradise Plants) as well as the Washingtonian Palms. Water with Dursban once a month using a watering can.

  • Processionary Caterpillars
Of course, those pesky Processionary Caterpillars came in for some abuse – quite rightly.

They are to be settled by exposure to Glyphosate - don't burn them as there is a danger of breathing in poisonous particles.
  • Wasps
Spanish wasps are carnivores which is why they not only sting, but also bite. One solution is to hang plastic bottles with bits of meat in liquid at the in order to attract those carnivorous wasps through a hole at the top! It is also possible to buy a smelly product called Proteinas Hidrololizadas Sysgenas - liquid chicken manure - to use instead of the bits of meat.

Injured plants stay injured – so we should cut out all the damaged sections. It is advisable to burn infected vegetation – but NOT at this time of the year please!

A systemic product called Mikel is excellent for treating the fungus called  leaf tree curl. As mentioned above – injured (curled leaves) should be cut off. Mikel is a very good fungicide for fruit trees and vegetables, and only lasts 6-10 days.
There are 2 forms of canker, bacterial - which can't be treated - and fungal - which can be treated.

Almond trees can be frequent victims of Canker  – shown be the presence of a golden, weeping sap. It is very easily spread to other trees. It is similar to blood poisoning and kills the cells in the trees
This is treated with copper sulphate – especially a product called Cuprocol, which kills all fungus. Spray the trees from top to bottom in the Winter. Citrus trees love Cuprocol as it gives them a copper boost.

When spraying the entire tree – which turns bright blue (including the fruit) -  keep it away from white walls and tiles as they will turn blue too.

Be warned :- It is lethal to fish
What to encourage in your garden:
  • Ladybirds The one thing we must NOT kill in our garden is the Ladybird! To help protect it -and for several other reasons – it is important for  us to Spray in the Evening – “Just a Spray at Twilight” please…….
  • Buddleia - Ladybirds and butterflies love them.
  • Dama del Noche to repel all mosquitoes
  • Mulching  provides the environment in which our friendly critters can survive and prosper.
It is now a legal requirement to have a spraying qualification in order to buy the chemicals listed.
Tim counseled us always to wear a Carbon Filter Mask – about €25 each – when spraying. Paper masks can be effective – but for only about 8 minutes!

Pyrethrum is also the strongest insecticide allowed under National Organic Standards guidelines. Made from the dried flowers of a little white daisy now classified as Tanacetum cinerariifolium, pyrethrum insecticides are known for their fast knock-down of unwanted insects. Insects typically become paralyzed as soon as they come into contact with pyrethrum, so it’s often used in wasp sprays. Pyrethrum use in the garden should be undertaken with care and only after cultural methods that might manage a pest have been exhausted. Pyrethrum insecticides are highly toxic to bees, wasps and other beneficial insects, as well as to fish. 
Pyrethrum kills cats! We should ensure that all pets are kept away for 24-48 hours from areas that have been sprayed.
Oleander and Digitalis – The Foxglove - can be lethal for humans. They affect respiration and can cause heart attacks! This is especially true of the smoke when they are burned.

We also learned that if there are bitter seeds in a fruit – that  bitterness is down to the presence of cyanide!
  • Castor Oil plant seeds contain Rycin - don't let your dogs eat the seeds.
  • Fig sap can burn – seriously burn our skin.
  • Sap from the Blue Agave, encountered in the campo - will also cause serious blistering.
  • A common  flower is the Monkshood Bane (previously called Wolfbane) is the most lethal plant in the entire U.K. (Cancel that air ticket!)
Editor's notes
Pictures have been taken from Google images to illustrate the points made by Tim. I hope I have chosen wisely.
Judith Sunley
Please check out the chemical names and spraying instructions before use.
I have to say that I personally thought Tim’s presentation was the best one I had ever heard as a member of the AGC. He spoke so articulately, without a single note, and in a voice that must be worth a fortune in the TV & Radio industry!

The shame is that he has returned to England to live. We all wish him every happiness in his coming marriage (he will propose soon – but don’t tell anyone until next month !)

All in all a truly Outstanding Day!
Jane Kirk

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