Latest posts by Lunarz

Lupins destroyed by greenfly

Posted: 15/10/2012 at 15:59

By the way Christopher, your organic friend should also try mycorrhizal fungi - which is marketed as Root Grow, which adds back the fungus into the soil which is used by the plant to grow root systems.  When you dig the hole, sprinkle on the bottom where the root ball of the plant will make direct contact with the powder.  It really works - I am going to add a little bit to my compost/manure mulch this autumn to help the plants grow in the Spring.

Lupins destroyed by greenfly

Posted: 10/10/2012 at 11:54

Definitely on the right lines Christopher.  You would be amazed at the huge number of micro-flora and fauna in the soil - fungus, bacteria and animals all of which do a job - releasing nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium to feed the plants, helping create root systems, helping the plant take up nutrients and water, protecting the plant from predators.  Once pesticides and insecticides are used, or artificial NPK fertilizer (fertiliser with artificially added Nitrogen (N), Phosphorous (P) and Potassium (K), these beneficial micro-flora and fauna are destroyed.  For instance, if you use artificial fertilizer, the soil loses its ability to create it's own NPK and you are then totally reliant on the artificial fertilizers going forward.  For this reason, a lot of people who decide to go organic don't have very much success in the first couple of years unless they do a huge amount to improve the soil with compost, manure and natural fertilizers, because the soil has been destroyed.  As for pests, in a natural environment, every pest has got a natural predator, but of course being a single organic garden in the midst of non-organic gardens, a lot of those predators have unfortunately been eliminatedby insecticides, so you have to get creative and it usually involves a lot of picking off by hand and squashing unfortunately! 

Lupins destroyed by greenfly

Posted: 07/10/2012 at 18:05

Thanks for the ideas Christopher, but soap wouldn't be organic.  I felt bad using the fish oil to be honest, because as sotongeoff says, it is still chemically processed and clearly bad for some insects otherwise it wouldn't be effective on aphids.  In organic gardening we only usually tend to use nettle juice, comfrey juice or seaweed to fertilize, compost and leaf mould to improve the soil and natural predators to control pests - perhaps the odd bit of milk or bicarbonate of soda to control mildew.  It's all about nurturing every component of the little ecosystem of your garden, right down to the bacteria in the soil, and letting it work for you to have strong plants which will be pest resistant naturally.  I will take out the lupins and let the aphids go elsewhere - and to be honest, if the next garden they end up in is someone like sotongeoff who promptly sprays them, I wouldn't lose too much sleep - espeically as they are not even a native species 

Lupins destroyed by greenfly

Posted: 07/10/2012 at 11:28

LOL   When you write things down for others to read, they sound a lot more crazy than when you hear them in your own head!  I am passionate about being organic though, so I will try the ladybirds again next Spring - at least I am rescuing them from the ladybird farm, even if they don't reciprocate the favour by eating my aphids!

The mystery of the disappearing hedgehogs

Posted: 06/10/2012 at 22:36

Thanks kitiekat - I will carry on putting a couple of bowls of mealworms and seeds/nuts out throughout the winter and if they are still there untouched in the morning I will give that stuff to the birds and put another load out at night again.  I had heard that they can temporarily get up if it gets warm in winter and have a quick bite!  I did try and build a hedgehog house between the shed and the fence - I put a load of upturned logs at the edges and covered the top with large bin bags and covered the whole thing with soil.  I even sealed up the gaps in the fence with silicone but I haven't had a single hedgehog go in there - even if I put mealworms at the entrance.  Perhaps it is because I put straw in it and they don't like it?  Or perhaps they have better places to sleep as there are a lot of fields and natural hedgerows quite nearby.  What do you use for your hogboxes?  Do you buy them bespoke?

Lupins destroyed by greenfly

Posted: 06/10/2012 at 22:29

It does sound crazy doesn't it   But yes, you can buy ladybirds and lacewings and nemotode worms and all sorts of natural predators.  When you buy ladybirds they come in the post and they are in a little pot full of cheerios, which they seem to like.  Aparenty the trick is to let them out in the evening as then they tend to stay put for the night and go foraging in your own garden the next morning - unlike what I did which was to let them all out in the morning and never see them again!

Lupins destroyed by greenfly

Posted: 06/10/2012 at 21:46

Have you got these super-lupin-aphids kate?  Because I have tried the hose quite a few times but they just climb straight back up.  Here's a quote from the article sotongeoff - although I didn't read the word 'larvae' before, which is a relief as they didn't kill the adult ladybirds:

"larvae of the ladybirdCoccinella septempunctata fed on lupin aphids from bitter cultivars (L. albusL. angustifolius and L. mutabilis) died after around three days. However, hoverfly and lacewing larvae appeared less sensitive and some developed to adulthood".


Thanks for the advice about digging up and dividing - I will try that, although it will be interesting trying to find a new spot - I have got a small garden and lot of plants

Bird seed falling in pond

Posted: 06/10/2012 at 21:39

Yes, they would caroline - that's a good idea, thanks.  Unfortunately though they would also deter the squirrels, which I am soft and feed too.  Mind you, perhaps I could put up a squirrel feeder elsewhere.... I do find that those cage feeders are quite hard to clean out too - have you ever used one?  I'd be interested to hear if you have ever used one that can be taken apart and cleaned.  I use the ring-pull feeders at the moment which completely dismantle for cleaning in the dishwasher - bliss.  I think I might have to swap the pond for a more formal water feature which is higher up and so would block a lot of the seeds.  If only there were no pigeons or starlings I would be OK - we can all wish I guess 

Lupins destroyed by greenfly

Posted: 06/10/2012 at 21:06

Oh - that's spooky Christopher, as I was thinking to myself that they were a lot bigger than I had seen before, and also that it was strange that they were only on the lupins and not the roses.  Boo to the lupin aphid!  I've just looked them up and you are right - they are exactly what I have got.  And, horribly, they kill ladybirds too, so perhaps mine didn't fly away after all.... No insecticides for me I'm afraid - 100% organic. I think I will get them out of the ground now, as from the articles I've read the lupins are pretty much doomed anyway and these horrible aphids can spread viruses too.   Thanks so much for the heads up 

Growing Sweet Peas

Posted: 06/10/2012 at 20:58

Great - thank you.  I'll try some now and some in March then 

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