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Wally Richards
Wally Richardshttp://www.gardenews.co.nz
Wally Richards has been a gardening columnist for over 30 years. Check his websites - for gardening news and tips visit www.gardenews.co.nz. For mail order products visit www.0800466464.co.nz. Wally also has a gardening problem help line on 0800 466 464.

Gardening with Wally Richards: Avoiding mistakes

Every week I receive phone calls from gardeners that are having problems with their tomatoes, beans and roses.

Within no time at all they are describing funny new growths on their tomatoes or beans or roses.

These growths are distorted, feathery or just strange looking.

The problem is caused by herbicides which the plant has has a wiff of in a very small dose of parts per million.

spraying weeds news

If it had been much stronger the plant would be dying.

Often when this happens people think it is spray drift and that is a possibility.

A neighbour or another one a mile down the road could have a a calm still day sprayed Roundup or a lawn weed killer.

Calm, still days are the worst times to spray except for windy days. (Actually windy days are better than calm days).

What happens is this: You spray and very small droplets are lifted up by conventional air currents (heat rises) and up they go to be floating around and drifting on any little breeze higher up till sometime they gain weight by combining or gathering dust and they drop.

If they drop onto susceptible plants such as tomatoes, beans or roses then you will likely have some funny looking new growths.

The best time to spray herbicides when there is a breeze as this will prevent droplets being carried upwards and your spray will go to the targeted weeds.

If you add Raingard to your herbicide spray you will get a 50% better kill.

Now lets say you do this when there is a breeze and you are applying Turfix or some other weed killer that will kill a range of weeds but will not harm mature lawn grass.

Weeds die and you mow your lawn. You have read the info on the herbicide bottle that says you should not compost your lawn clippings for 6 months or so.

That is because the herbicide will be active in the grass clippings for a number of months and several mowings.

Think for a moment about your cat or dog that likes to chew on a bit of grass as part of their diet or chew on a lot to make them selves sick to bring up a hair ball or something.

Does not sound like a healthy thing for your pet does it?

So after applying your lawn weed killer you cant use the lawn clippings for compost so what do you do?

I know; take them to the green waste recycling place they just love plant material which they can turn into compost and sell to people.

Well you can’t put them into your compost because of the herbicide.

There is another option if you have herbicide laden lawn clippings put them under mature trees and shrubs to dispose of them.

They will only show problems to the trees and shrubs after years of doing this by starting to turn yellow in the foliage.

Now at sometime you go and buy a branded bag of compost to put around your garden or to grow stuff in it.

You do not know if that brand used green waste in their compost or not, and you do not know if it contains any herbicide residue.

You put it around your gardens no problems but around roses, tomatoes and beans you might find some strange new foliage. Then you will know it contained herbicide.

Most other plants will show no obvious signs of a problem because they are not sensitive to herbicides at parts per million.

Now them go out to a farm where there are say thistles growing in the paddock, the farmer knows that the thistles will seed and multiply and that they are not a food source for cattle unless you are running goats.

So Mr. Farmer picks out a herbicide that will kill the thistles but will not harm the grass as he wants the grass fore his stock and any spray drift will not matter as grass sprayed will not die.

Great but the cattle/sheep grazing will likely eat the herbicide grass which probably does nothing for their health and longevity.

Residue of the herbicide will pass through the animal and end up as manure.

Put that around your roses and see what happens.

I remember years ago in Palmerston North when I had a garden centre and suddenly a number of gardeners were bring in strange foliage from roses and tomatoes.

It came back to a fund raising drive by a local club the sold bags of sheep manure collected from under a shearing shed to gardeners.

One that first appeared a few years back was pea straw used in gardens causing strange new growths on susceptible plants (roses & tomatoes)

Problem was caused by the farmers that sprayed the pea crop with Roundup after harvesting the peas so that the foliage would die and dry out quick so they could bundle it up and sell it.

Now a recent one is a concern and that a couple of gardeners that have used mushroom compost in their gardens have found strange growths of their roses and tomatoes.

Now I am fairly sure that mushroom growers don’t use any herbicide affected manure or compost to grow their mushrooms but afterwards when the trays are emptied they could treat the compost to kill any live spore so that it will notvgive gardens the possibility of Free Mushrooms in their gardens.

There is a simple test you can do to find out if a compost or manure has herbicide in it.

Place a few bean seeds into the material and keep moist and see if the beans grow and that they are not distorted. Also place a few of the bean seeds elsewhere to prove that they will germinate and not be distorted.

If both lots grow ok then likely the stuff is herbicide free.

Inflation due to broken supply chains and transport costs is starting to bite home.

On 1st February a number of our products will have a marginal increase in prices.

So not a sale but if you want to obtain some products better now than later as they could cost more.

Happy Gardening.

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