How Do I Manage Phytophthora Disease On Cocoa?

“Dear Jerry, my cocoa plants are infected with black pod disease. They are cropping OK, but can I do anything to improve their health?”, asks Peter in Townsville, Australia.

Hi Peter, Phytophthora is primarily a root rot disease and it can spread throughout a plant using the vascular system. Some plants are more susceptible than others and there may be multiple host plant species in your garden.

Certain types of Phytophthora can devastate entire landscapes (like Jarrah dieback, P. cinnamomi) and ruin orchards. This disease is recognised by conservationists as a key threatening process, it cannot be eradicated so you manage it.

Hell’s Bells – Ugly lemons! What’s gone wrong?

Help! The fruit on my lemon are distorted and covered in ugly warts. What’s gone wrong? Can my tree be saved? Is there an organic remedy? Answer: An infectious fungal disease called lemon scab  is responsible. And yes, this infection can be defeated organically and in more than one way.

Protecting Pawpaw Plants Against Black Spot Disease

If you live in south eastern Queensland and grow pawpaw, it’s worth a quick health check right now. Mild, calm, showery, humid winter weather is perfect for observing outbreaks of pawpaw black spot disease. But how best to manage this common problem?

Why Do Fresh Woodchip And Potting Mix Turn Mouldy And Repel Water?

Question: “Dear Jerry, In the last year, I have had a soil problem that looks normal on the surface, but when you dig into the mulch, it is grey and looks like a fungus has taken over. The soil smells mouldy, (maybe anaerobic?) and when I water, the water just runs off, not in. This problem…

Success With Pumpkin In The Subtropics

Question: When do I sow pumpkin? I read in gardening magazines pumpkin can be sown from spring to autumn in the subtropics. But advice on seed packets (and some magazines) suggest that pumpkin should only be sown from spring to summer. I have a garden at Camp Mountain 4520 where we do not get frost, please…

In Production Today: June 2014

Today a cool change has arrived, a reminder that June weather is supposed to be about winter, not the continuation of autumn as it has been. Will there be another winter?

In Production Today, May 2014

May 2014 was the 351st consecutive month of above average global temperatures. Or put another way, any gardener under 30 years old will never have experienced normal growing conditions. This month’s weather has been surprisingly sunny, dry and so warm my ‘Java Blue’ and ‘Pisang Ceylan’ bananas and Sugar palm – tropical plants – are…

International Compost Awareness Week

‘Bellis’, Brisbane’s sustainable house and garden, produces 4 metric tonnes of compost a year. Using low till, ecologically sustainable gardening techniques enables this property to sequester 0.638 metric tonnes of atmospheric CO2 gas each year. Doesn’t sound much, does it?

In Production Today: April 2014

A couple of brief April showers kept the grass green, but below the surface the soil remains dry. It’s ideal weather for propagating Cranberry Hibiscus and Four Seasons Herb, cuttings are rooting within ten days. Although the value of each watering is lasting longer now the days are shorter and the nights cooler, I won’t…

Thrifty, Fertile and Illicit: 4BC Horticultural Intervention

So there I was with Noel Burdette, in the pre-dawn darkness of Brisbane’s Cannon Hill. Groggy but organised, and with only a smartly dressed security guard as a witness, we got stuck in. Long ago we’d decided that the front garden at 4BC Radio, home to the voice of Brisbane’s gardeners, needed a little buffing up….

Every Gardener A Scientist

Any Australian can load their photos of native plants and animals on iNaturalist and ask for sightings to be identified by experts.