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Fruit Trees- Pest and Disease

Every year we have people emailing us with pictures of either pests or diseases on their fruit trees and asking us what the problem is and what they can do about it.
The most common problems are:
1. Pear Slug, usually in November/ December as everything warms up and the pupate comes out of its case in the soil to lay eggs on the host tree.
Looks as though a gross black slug is eating layers off the leaves, leaving just the lacy veins.
2. Silver Leaf, which appears on the first flush of growth in spring, disappears again until late autumn and then appears again. Silvery leaves.
3. Bronze Beatle, damage (holes in leaves eaten at night most often but also in the day time).
Infestations occur by bronze ladybird-like insects, which live in long grass and attack trees in times of water stress mostly in November/December.
4. Leaf Roller, usually on apples in summer.
Leaves on new growth are rolled right up with caterpillars inside the roll, which eat the leaves as they hatch.
5. Cicada damage, zip like marks on the bark of main stems and branches that are actually the places cicadas lay their eggs. These hatch into larvae which eat the cambium layer of tree, and weaken the tree in that place, also in times of water stress, the worse the stress, the worse the damage.
6. Bacterial Blast, lesions on the trunks and branches of stone fruit where gooey sap oozes.
7. Leaf Curl, bubbly redish colour leaves usually occurring on the first flush of growth in spring, most often disappearing with second flush, usually mild but occasionally serious.
8. Die Back, where the tips die back sometimes, with the tree not getting bigger in the first year after planting. Usually occurs because the tree was not pruned before planting, and it was not planted with enough care and/or not watered well enough, also water stress.

9. Codlin Moth – As we are learning through the science of biological agriculture and epigenetic, our plants and animals and humans will only attract pests and diseases if they are out of balance and not resonating at their best functioning level. Pests and diseases are nature’s way of cleaning up the rubbish!! Apple trees get all kinds of diseases and pests and almost all of them are because the mineral levels in the ground are not optimal, and most are because of a lack of available calcium. Put the focus on soil health and ecosystem health and your codlin moth will disappear.. that is the only regenerative way I know of to  deal with such problems, this is why forest garden support species are so so important, they are the species that mine the minerals our heavy feeding trees need, and so we can wean ourselves off fertilliser

Genetics and Environment:
Over the years I have come to understand that tree health is just like my health, is just like my chicken’s health etc. Health is determined by genetic strength, and environment.
That means we need to plant heritage fruit trees.
Heritage trees are the only trees we have that were selected and grown to be strong and healthy and high brix without chemical industrial inputs… they have the best genetic strength, so long as we are careful about the selection process.
On top of that we must supply them with the minerals they need as well as the right amounts of air in the soil (50% ideally) and also the correct amount of soil moisture to avoid root stress and to enable the trees to pick up the minerals at all.
If we don’t do any one of these things pests or disease issues will undoubtedly result at some point in some form.

My suggestions are:
1. Follow our suggested tree planting guide on the website. The air, the minerals, and the moisture are all critical.
2. Only plant what you can take care of well. One tree well taken care of will produce more fruit than 10 trees that do not get their needs met.
3. If you didn’t do that, get advice as to the best way to achieve a similar result. It may mean you have to feed your trees well each year with EF Soil Force or EF Nature’s Garden, get a Reams soil test etc.
Find a way to water over summer.
Foliar feed in the short term.
4. And lastly there are short term ways to deal with the symptoms of stress, i.e. pests and diseases. My current choice is spraying our EF BioPesticide which is entirely composed of beneficial microbes, which helps create an environment that supports the trees, keeping bugs and diseases at bay. It will heal silver leaf, leaf curl, and everything else, so long as you also pay attention to the moisture levels and the minerals, the air levels and possibly the drainage.
There is also neem oil and several other acceptable options, see our website.
5. Check out our website for all
fertilisers and soil tests mentioned.

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Planting Fruit Trees

Koanga Tree Planting Instructions

• The aim of these instructions is to make sure you end up with a strong healthy tree that grows a main frame fast and is capable of producing high brix crops for many years.
• Dig a hole 1x1x1m for each tree, that is a 1 cubic meter hole for each tree. If you are on heavy clay or soil that does not drain, you will have to put drainage out the bottom of your hole, and if you are unable to do that you may have to build your tree space partly up above the existing soil surface.
• As you dig out the soil, separate topsoil from subsoil.
• Mix your top soil 50/50 with compost. You must use high quality aerobically made compost – that excludes all the municipal compost available in shops as far as I know, you have to get organized and make it yourself, or you could use well composted hay or well rotted bark etc.
• If you have your own compost, and it has been made aerobically using high brix plant and animal ingredients, and you have also added minerals (especially calcium and phosphate), and seaweed, then you may not need to also add fertilizer. I would suggest you still add paramagnetic rock dust to get the current flowing and things moving.
• If you don’t have high quality aerobic, highly mineralized and biologically active compost, we suggest you add 5kg of EF Soil-Force mixed throughout the topsoil/compost mix, or sprinkled in layers throughout the hole per tree. EF Soil-Force contains Sechura R.P.R. (soft rock phosphate) and provides available Calcium, Phosphorus and trace elements which are composted with Humic Acid, fish protein, 4 different seaweeds, Lucerne Dust, animal manures and a highly paramagnetic Basalt Rock Dust (CGS4400). It is also inoculated with beneficial bacteria and soil fungi (e.g. Azobacter, Trichoderma, Bacillus Subtillus and Bio-Vam Mycorrhizal fungi). Leave this mix for 3 weeks before planting your trees.
• Plant your tree into the hole so that it is sitting in the soil at the same level as it was in the nursery or pot previously, and making sure it is on a small mound, so that as the soil in the hole settles your tree will not be in a hollow!
• Your tree will also grow better and perform better if you plant it so that the strongest roots face into the South. Trees roots will have aligned already in the nursery with the magnetic field of the earth, which means the strongest roots will face south, so if you can also plant it facing this direction, your tree will perform better and be happier! All Koanga fruit trees have a paint dot on the North side of the tree so you can also check how to plant it.
• Make a berm at a radius of 1m around the tree to hold all the nutrients, mulch and moisture inside it. You may have to breach this berm in the winter so that it does not hold water inside and drown the tree! After year 2 it won’t be necessary to maintain the berm.
• Sprinkle another kilo of your top class compost out to 1m radius all around the tree or inside your berm, and mulch heavily to suppress weeds over the Summer or sprinkle 500g of EF Soil-Force to a radius of 1m all around the tree or inside your berm, and mulch heavily to suppress weeds and help maintain moisture over the Summer.
• Tree roots are like water pumps, one of their jobs is to pump water up into the tree branches, after planting the trees you must prune them back so that the short roots can support the size of the tree, if the tree is not pruned back, the roots could not support long branches and those will die back. Prune the trees so that when they re-grow they develop branches and growth where you want it- thinking of the main frame you want your trees to have years from now.
• Continue feeding your tree on an annual basis each Autumn after the rains come, using either highly mineralized composted animal manure, or high quality highly mineralized compost, or EF Soil-Force, or other suitable biological fertilizers.
• Our advice is to plant only as many fruit trees as you can take care of in this way. Your rewards will outweigh the effort required!
• PS: We use Environmental Fertilisers products, however the most important thing is to choose minerally balanced and biologically active products.

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Urban Garden December 2014 Report

Pumpkins climbing the structure we built to keep them in a small space


If you’re new to this project please go to our website and read the back ground story. This is about researching ways we can grow meet our nutritional needs ( based on the Weston Price nutritional model) in our own back yards in an urban environment.


December has seen temperatures soar here and growth along with it

Every thing is humming, the rabbits, the bees, the corn and all the vegetables, The fruit trees are climbing fences and the growth is generally going nuts and being recycled in the system to the compost, guinea pigs, rabbits and chickens.

Soldier Fly Farm

The Solider fly farm is now producing a lot of larvae, but we’ve had some management issues that are not totally resolved. All these great sounding things need management and commitment.

We have realized over the past month that if we leave the buckets of liquid fertiliser that we get from under the soldier fly farm out in the open they grow hover fly larvae which also make great chicken food. So we now think we can feed them soldier fly larvae, and hoverfly larvae over the warm months and keep the worms under the rabbits for the colder months

Chicken Numbers

We’ve have been playing around with chicken numbers in the chicken straw yard , it is an area of 2.2m x 2.5 m and I’ve come to the conclusion that a space that size can hold 1 rooster and 6 chickens comfortably for the chickens, after that some of them get too marginalised …..more than feels good…. So we’ll hold our numbers there. We’re putting all the Biochar we’re making with the tagasate sticks back into the system via the compost. We use outside sources of annual carbon to keep this compost area producing high quality chicken food and compost. Currently we’re using some of the material recouped after Koanga seed cleaning.

Guinea pig tractor run 1 week after being eaten down
Guinea pig tractor run 1 week after being eaten down


Guinea Pigs

We’re also on a learning curve with the guinea pigs. We believe that for many people in the urban world guinea pig is going to be the meat of choice, because they could be the most practical animal to keep. We’re working to discover how many guinea pigs we can feed well in our garden, and also how to maximize growth on the tractor system and surrounds. The principles of growth are just the same on a guinea pig path tractor system as they are on the farm for cows. If you eat it too low, it takes a long time to recover, and you get way less production and other good things happening, if you let t get too long it is not as nutritious, we need to practice Holistic Management for the guinea pigs I can see. I’d love to heart from any of you who may be feeding comfrey to guinea pigs.. how much of their food can be comfrey do you think? Ours are mostly getting grass clover, comfrey, chicory, alfalfa, raspberry leaves and vege tops right now.

Summer greens being sown in shadey places
Summer greens being sown in shadey places


Fruit Trees and Perennial vege

In the fruit tree vine department we are focusing on growing size into everything right now so we have structures to hold fruit in the coming years, and our perennial vege are beginning to get some size to them as well, with both rhubarb and globe artichokes showing their heads


Our Top Bar hive was requeened last month as the hive was not strong and it has picked up well now, we are adding top bars and will hopefully see a stronger hive going into winter this next season

Wicking Beds

We began playing around with wicking beds on our concrete area, and very quickly came to see the potential they hold. We filled them with compost from the chicken system, and they grew so much faster than in the garden, all about getting as much water as they can use… this will be an exciting area to develop in the future.

In the mean time our Total Value out was $808, not bad for something we can see could be far more productive!!!!!!



Urban Garden Crowd Funder

The major thing that frustrates me is that we don’t have the resources to train an urban garden intern to do this job well over time and get seasonal changeovers right so we get close to maximum production etc etc. I also believe all animals need a permanent carer, somebody who gets really tuned in to them, and is there for a year at a time..(actually as plants do too). If we had somebody committed to this garden rather than volunteers that keep changing the production could be far higher. That’s what our crowd funder is for. This project needs to be done well, and we see so much potential here for inspiring a lot of people.

White scotch runner beans shading rabbits in summer
White scotch runner beans shading rabbits in summer
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Kay’s Garden Blog December 2014

Harvesting onions.

As usual December was a crazy month however I’m happy to say the last week of December has been in the garden for me, I feel revived and so does the garden. No sooner were the cloches emptied of seedlings than we began harvesting the early garlic (late November) and now all of the shallots and garlic and lupin seed is in them so they are full up again. I’ll need to clean, grade and store the garlic and shallots ASAP because we are about to harvest the Essene flax seed which together with the Austrian Hulless pumpkin seed will be our biscuits and crackers over the next year.

Part of the heavy feeding section pumpkins tomatoes and greens

All the work that went into growing strong seedlings early, has paid of this year, we have tomatoes to eat now, and peppers any day, and the pumpkins (Austrian hullesss) are already huge which means they will be harvested in January; we’ll probably get a second crop off those same vines. The seed originally came from, Joe Polaischer who brought it from Austria where they had a short growing season…. so in a long season here we get two crops of pumpkins.

Carbon crop section of kay’s garden corn Bloody Butcher, magenta spreen and sunflowers, also all edible.

We have 3 main weeds in the garden right now and all of them are not only edible but highly nutritious, and delicious. Lamb’s Quarters – Magenta Spreen, Purslane, and red root, (a wild amaranth). Basically I’ve got to the point where we plan on those coming up and being our greens over summer. I’m continuing to refine the 200 sq m Biointensive garden we have, along with 50 sq m of perennial vege.

I know how much flour corn we need now, and I know how much we grow in a 10 sq m bed. 1 kg of dry corn per sq m actually. We eat this dry corn as tortillas, posole in soup, as flour for cakes and baking and in polenta. We always nixtamalize it to gain maximum nutrition as indigenous folks in Central America always did.

The rotation system of my garden: Heavy feeders followed by roots and legumes, followed by carbon followed by carbon. ½ our carbon area is flour corn and sunflowers, and the other ½ is 20m of Essene flax seed, 10m of hullesss barley, and 20 m of sweet corn.

Unbelievably it’s been really easy not buying any food since we decided to eat only what we grow here plus small amounts of bartered food from friends neighbours etc. With two exceptions right now, 1 is salt, the other olive oil. I had a years supply as I always do when we began but we’ll be harvesting olives this year in exchange for olives to press, I hope. It feels crazy going to the supermarket to buy matches (we cook on gas in the house truck), dish washing liquid and laundry liquid.

The second carbon section in kay’s garden essene flax seed barley and sweet corn.

I went to a lot of trouble this spring to make sure I left my carbon crops in the ground as long as I could so they would be as high in carbon as possible to avoid a hot fast compost heap, and increase my chances of having a high carbon low nitrogen heap. All 3 of the compost heaps I made this spring kept below 55°C, which made me very happy. They are all very high in high quality carbon from a variety of crops. All 3 heaps are well made and have added minerals so I’m excited to be seeing how well that compost grows our winter crops this year. Compost making is a real art, and super exciting to be finally able to make compost that can actually grow my food after all these years!!! No need to add liquid comfrey or manure etc etc etc.

Mulching tomatoes with comfrey works very well, you can cut the comfrey borders and add to the mulch every month over summer.
Mulching tomatoes with comfrey works very well, you can cut the comfrey borders and add to the mulch every month over summer.

Shaked, a Kotare Village neighbor has been refining the Biochar maker, and we have a version now that is great for turning all those odd things that gardeners collect into char. It can be stoked with bones, corncobs, paper, especially rolled newspapers, odd sticks, shells etc. Its an easy size to use and was easy to make. Being able to add all of that to the compost feels pretty good.

We are eating like Kings and Queens!