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24 July 2015

how to deal with rust, when broccoli flowers, frosts and green manure crops

Dealing with rust in silverbeet

  • If you live in a humid climate you’re quite likely to get the fungal disease called rust on your silverbeet at some stage. Unlike other plant pathogens (anything that can produce a disease), rust usually affects healthy and vigorously-growing plants. The fungi produce asexual spores which disperse by wind, water or by insects spreading the infection.
  • To help avoid rust, it’s best to remove all the lower leaves of each plant to encourage good air flow.
  • If your plants do get rust, remove the affected leaves. Make sure you don’t put these leaves in the compost because the spores will spread. It’s fine to put the leaves in a worm farm though, or if you have chickens, then they’ll appreciate the leaves with or without rust.
  • Giving your plants a good drench of liquid seaweed will increase the vigour of the plants; it alkalinises the leaves and stops rust spreading to other parts of the plant. We like Ocean Organics Seaweed Foliar concentrate because it’s organic and has a nifty application method.
  • There’s no withholding period when spraying with seaweed. In fact, spraying your veges with seaweed will only benefit you.

Letting broccoli flower – pros and cons

  • At this time of the year when there are so few flowers around for the bee population to feed on, it’s good to let your broccoli produce flowers.
  • But, when brassicas flower, the roots give off a gas which sterilises the soil, so it’ll be difficult to sow seeds in this bed directly after the broccoli. Seeds will most likely not germinate in the sterilised soil.

Protecting tamarillo from frosts

  • Tamarillos are best grown in mild climates where frosts are rare. If tamarillos are exposed to frost they will get quite badly knocked.
  • Rob installs a protective teepee around his tamarillo trio using 25mm wooden stakes and frost cloth. He puts it all together using clothes pegs. It’s a temporary arrangement as you want to be able to assemble and disassemble it easily.

Looking after your green manure crops

  • Rob has had to cover his green manure crops of lupins and oats with netting because the pukeko were scratching out the seeds.
  • Now the plants are growing through the netting. If we let the plants get any taller they’ll be pulled out completely when we take the netting off, so now’s the time to remove it.
  • It doesn’t matter when you dig your green manure crop in. It’s fine to dig it in any time from when the plants are around 100-150mm high, right through to when they’ve flowered.
  • You need to dig the crops in, however, 3-4 weeks before you want to plant in the soil. It takes this long for the microbes and earthworms to do their job of breaking down the plants in the soil.

Camera: Jarod Murray
Editor: Thomas Asche
Production equipment and post-production services provided by The Black Forest Breathes

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