Following on from the completed compost bays, I thought I would share some of our other handiwork in the garden. Unlike the compost bays, we needed to purchase the materials for our latest endeavours.
Growing food crops invariably invites other critters who also deem it to be food. While I am reasonably happy to share, I am not keen on seeing the entire crop destroyed.
This year has seen the inclusion of an additional pest in our garden – the citrus fruit piercing moth. From what I have read it would appear that this is as a direct result of the extended period of drought last year followed by good rain.
We have an orchard of numerous citrus trees which generally produce a bumper crop each year but 2020 is not shaping up so well. We have lost the entire crop of Washington navel oranges as well as the majority of the grapefruit. These are the earliest maturing of the citrus and we are less able to assess the losses on the two Valencia orange trees as well as the two mandarins. Fortunately, the lemon and lime trees do not appear to have been attacked much at all.
In normal seasons the only real pest to the citrus trees seems to be the scrub turkeys helping themselves. They particularly like the mandarins.
I had previously read about using poly pipe and star pickets to create a frame for netting to cover fruit trees, however, we had never implemented this method. A few years ago we had simply tried draping the netting directly over the tree but while it was relatively effective the netting ended up with rips in it.
The arrival of the citrus fruit piercing moth spurred me into action and we bought the supplies to create the poly pipe frame for the mandarin tree. We chose to do this one first as it seemed to have very little damage so far which is probably due to the fruit still being quite green. Everything I have read plus my own observation indicates that the moth attacks ripening fruit.
We used an unused net which we had over the new poly pipe frame.
The net barely reaches the ground and I am not sure how diligent the moths are when it comes to finding their way in. I plan to extend the length a little by adding an extra piece of netting to the bottom edge. This will be salvaged from the previously damaged net.
The next job is to monitor the tree by torchlight at night to check for any moths which are already inside the netting.
If the netting of the mandarin tree proves to be successful in eliminating the moth as well as the scrub turkeys we will consider doing at least some of the other citrus trees.
While we were buying the supplies we made sure we also bought enough to create poly pipe tunnels over at least a couple of the garden beds. The critter I had in my sights this time was the white cabbage moth. Unlike the citrus fruit piercing moth, there are many and varied home-remedies to deter these pests. However, the best prevention is to eliminate them from the brassica garden entirely.
I am determined to grow a successful crop of cauliflower this year so I used more of the poly pipe to create hoops over the bed.
Using some of the damaged fruit tree netting I set about making a cover.
I included shaped ends so that it fits neatly over the hoops.
There are a few holes which need to be patched but I am confident that this will make a difference.
I regard the money spent on supplies to create these exclusion zones as a worthwhile investment as there are a few hundred dollars worth of produce at stake – and that is just in one season.