Codling moth – help is on its way

Do you grow apples, pears or quinces? Have you found that ugly brown excrement, frass, oozing from your fruit, then cut them open to find tunnels and sometimes a moving codling moth grub?

If so, read on to learn how to counteract the problem –if your fruit trees grow in Tasmania, and you haven’t already done so, then it is probably time for you to act (depending on your microclimate).

The GoodLife Permaculture site provides a wonderful and simple explanation of the codling moth cycle and what can be done about it. Read more here.

This GlobalNetAcademy site offers additional information.

For years I have pasted horticultural glue on one side of cardboard strips and wrapped them around the trunks of my pear and apple trees, and later found beautiful specimens of codling moth larvae trapped in there over time. But in recent years I have not thought carefully enough about when to do the wrapping. Judging by the volume of attacks on my pears and apples last year, I have failed. So in the first days of September this year, when I noticed the first buds about to unfurl their first leaves on my pear tree, I dispensed with the cardboard and directly taped the trunks and applied the sticky glue.

Will this work? Am I too late? Have the moths already laid their eggs? Only time will tell. Wait and watch. That’s the plan.

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A glorious Thursday at the RTBG – part 2 of 2

Yesterday’s blog post talked about the work we undertook in the Food Garden of the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens (RTBG). In addition, and as soon as we had eaten our lunches, Coordinator Adam took us on a tour of the specialist Japanese Garden located elsewhere in the RTBG – just for a treat and because we don’t make time to look at other parts of the large Garden complex when we come to volunteer. During recent months and while we have been away, major changes have been made to the fence and gateway into the garden, and to the operation of the waterways within that garden.

Last September the aged fence and entrance looked as follows.

Now a beautifully constructed custom-built fence and entrance is set to last another 30 or more years.

The waterway is a system of interconnected ponds which, with the aid of a pump, is maintained by recirculating water. As the set-up has aged, some water was being lost. Now all has been cleaned and repaired to create a secure magical environment. The water is comparatively shallow so no fish have been added, however from time to time goldfish are seen swimming. Where they come from is unknown – they don’t last long and quickly become a meal for local birds.

Our tour was exceptionally interesting as Adam explained how traditional Japanese gardeners prune trees and we looked at some examples where that careful professional work had been undertaken (I found a video which gives some indication of the meticulous work required). As we left we admired the shaping of a few box plants.

This was an educational experience layered with beauty, creativity, and wonder. Entrancing. The Japanese Garden felt like a sanctuary of calm, stillness and peace. We hope that Adam may introduce us to other parts of the RTBG on future Thursdays.

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A glorious Thursday at the RTBG – part 1 of 2

Long term blog followers will know that in the past and with one exception in a year, Thursday’s have always been blue sky days and glorious regardless of season when we are volunteering in the Food Garden of the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens (RTBG). And so it was yesterday – a heavenly day in every way.

In advance of our return to volunteering, we had been through Covid 19 ‘training’, filled out new paperwork and agreed to abide by changed conditions for our efforts. Over the past months, our ‘family’ of Food Garden volunteers had exchanged emails and phone calls, participated in many Zoom online meetings, and met occasionally for a meal together. With the news that we could return, we buzzed with excitement. Our suggested work time has always been 10am-3pm although we are not expected to stay the entire time. I knew I planned to arrive around 9ish, another told me he’d be there by 8 (and in fact he arrived 20 minutes before then). As I bussed to the Gardens an exchange of texts alerted me that another two would be arriving around the time I expected to arrive. Buzz. Super-excitement. We all felt vitally alive. ‘Can’t wait’ was our mantra. And once there, ‘can’t leave’ almost became our new mantra! I left a little before 3pm while others were still enjoying planting new vegetable crops.

Soon after arrival, the resident magpie family sent a representative waddling across the pathway to welcome us before Food Garden Coordinator Adam took us for a short tour of the garden so we could understand the work which needed doing. The plants which surprised us all were the unusual crimson flowering broad beans. Strikingly beautiful.

T was already harvesting brassicas ready to distribute to charity, and a couple of others moved to help him. As each container was filled we lined them up, eventually covering them to prevent a marauding currawong having an easy feast.

The big job for the day was to weed a long brassica patch where last year we had planted and tended garlic. We all came across a few rogue garlic plants that has somehow survived and let them continue to grow.

Hours later, after four of us worked on it, the bed was cleared. The cabbages and other plants looked larger and more magnificent with the new space around them.

Mid-afternoon planting began. Garden beds needed to be dug and readied then leeks, spring onions and kohlrabi plants were lined up, spaced, removed from their potting containers and set in the ground.

A joyful day of great satisfaction.

As any gardener knows you never finish all that you expect to achieve; the time passes and not all on ‘the list’ gets completed. And so it was yesterday – but we know those other jobs will be waiting for us next week; joys such as picking the cumquats and the freshly growing tea leaves not to forget we will be extracting more healthily flourishing weeds!

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First day back at RTBG

Great news – yesterday the Tasmanian Government and the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens (RTBG welcomed my gardening friends and I back to volunteer in the Community Food Garden. Today I am writing up that story and you can expect a report in tomorrow’s blog.

Long term blog followers may recall that this Tasmanian Discoveries blogsite has existed for some years, however I had not written a blog post each day until Covid 19 changed our lives and I was no longer permitted to volunteer at the RTBG. I vowed to continue to publish daily until I could return to the RTBG. Now after 182 days, the blog publications will transition from a torrent to a trickle – gradually. No longer should you expect to get your ‘regular morning fix’, as some readers have declared my blog posts to be. Initially there will be more posts published than just the once weekly RTBG report, but eventually I will settle back into a weekly reporting regime – unless I make an exciting discovery somewhere else in Tasmania which I feel compelled to write up.

Meanwhile I am in awe of others who continue to offer beautiful photos and ideas through their Facebook sites to keep our spirits raised during this pandemic: these include, Mary McA’s daily photographs ‘To brighten each day – morning memory of special places close to home…’; Chantale’s regular landscapes and art works, June’s connections to the TSO Daily Dose, Mary B’s La de Dardle Lauderdale landscapes, and Katie’s permaculture news. Fantastic contributions across social media. Thank you. I hope everyone knows someone who is making the world a better place during the restraints of our times, and can admire their efforts – and perhaps you are also achieving wonderful things during this time.

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Pulpit Rock above New Norfolk

We had spent the morning at a community garden, at markets, and then in a civilised tea room with the freshest of refreshments. It was time to head back to Hobart but first we allowed ourselves one final excursion. We followed a narrow winding gravel road up to the Pulpit Rock lookout. It was worth the short drive.

Stunning views extended across the town and east and west along the Derwent River, a body of water which started inland near Lake St Clair in central Tasmania and was on its way to emptying into the ocean past Hobart.

(If you love the look of this river, then you might want to wander through another of my blogsites recording my experience of Walking the Derwent from mouth to source; at least I imagine that some of my photos will make you want to take a closer look at the real thing.)

The Tasmanian News published in Hobart on Wed 8 July 1885 on page 4 printed a poem ’The Pulpit Rock’s Farewell’.

However this poem referred to the Pagoda Rock, a natural formation part of the nearby Derbyshire Rocks which was demolished to develop the railway line below. That a second high point is then named Pulpit Rock is an indication of the influence and impact of various Christianity sects in the first century of New Norfolk’s existence.

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Drinking tea at New Norfolk

After the markets we headed off westwards along the Lyell Highway hoping to find another market. We never did. However a short stopover beside the fast current of the Derwent River was most refreshing. Idyllic.

Then we meandered through the hamlets of Lowitta and Magra before returning to New Norfolk with the intention of finding a particular tea house.

The Glen Derwent Tea Rooms were easy to find. A few peacocks greeted us as we parked then wandered towards the historic Georgian house.

Later we were to see up to 15 peacocks and peahens roaming the place along with proud glossy roosters and a multitude of hens. While enjoying our cup of tea, we learnt that a brood of ducklings were having their first swim on the pond – when we looked they were hidden from view. The property owners planned to gather them for the night in order that crows would not peck them off. Another reminder that the natural world is not pleasant for all.

The massive trees and hedges effectively blocked the sound of the highway and obliterated any view of traffic. This was an oasis offering gentility and kindness.

A parterre garden has been established in the front garden with box hedges creating spaces for roses.

This Glen Derwent property operates as both a bed and breakfast Heritage Retreat facility and a tea room where high teas are available by appointment.

We wandered in without an appointment. A fire was burning, crisp white tablecloths coated the furniture, the spaces had glorious high ceilings and period furnishings, and outside we could see the croquet once tennis court with lounge chairs resting on the lawn. All so gorgeous.

Our host Liz appeared from the kitchen where she was preparing delectable morsels for high teas for 25 people later that day. We asked for a pot of tea. She asked if we wanted to eat and my friend ordered fresh scones, jam and cream. Then Liz disappeared, reappeared with the largest ever tea pot with tea made from leaves not bags, then disappeared again – to make the scones from scratch. What superb service! With barely a wait, the scones arrived steaming and had a remarkable internal texture like soft pillows that melted in your mouth. Made using lemonade and from the best fresh cream, she said. The black currant and raspberry jam were home-made and terrifically flavoursome.

Afterwards we were given permission to wander around the property and one of the accommodation cottages was left open for us to have a look at. Very cosy and comfortable situated in a stunningly beautiful environment. The outbuildings all showed their age, in the best possible way.

As a historic property, it’s exotic rather than native trees are to be expected. For example I spotted willows, poplars and a holly tree in close proximity.

The landscape glowed with greens, a bounty derived from a good rainfall and excellent soil.

All terribly interesting. This environment and experience was an antidote against the vapidity of the morning markets. A much needed tonic.

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New Norfolk Food Gardens and Markets – part 3 of 3

High St, the main shopping street down the centre of the New Norfolk CBD, was closed to traffic and stalls reached as far as the eye could see and beyond.

One fellow wandered through the crowd playing his banjo.

The vegetable stall was from the farms in the Coal Valley, the same which sell at the Bathurst St Farmers Market in Hobart. As always, the produce is freshly picked the day before. I stocked up. Small bags of tomatoes were for sale but, alas, these were not grown in New Norfolk. Elsewhere I picked up a freshly made Rye sourdough loaf of bread.

There were a number of plant and bulb stalls.

I noted wads of thick warm socks were for sale everywhere.

New Norfolk is a place which to some people is where ‘rednecks’ predominate – but of course ‘rednecks’ live in every town and city and NN is no different. Nevertheless, I recognised my prejudice when I saw the open gun shop in the main street; in my mind guns and rednecks go together notwithstanding guns are important for farmers who are not necessarily rednecks. More details can be read here about Tasmania’s gun law requirements.

While this was not a market focused on craft or arts, nor a souvenir market, there were some exceptional innovative pieces of jewellery and objects demonstrating new forms of wood carving. Some beautiful artifacts. With the exception of stalls selling jewellery and a couple of others, lots of middle aged and elderly men ran the stalls presumably to supplement their government pensions and to give themselves an interest. The stalls presenting vintage and antique materials were overpriced. Surely the effort of bringing a great number of items, displaying them and then selling very few would be wasteful. Generally there was an air of disinterest around these stalls – by the sellers and the buyers. Very strange not to want to make money.

A number of cooked food stalls were scattered through the market. One that was selling Thai inspired street food attracted me. I purchased a marvellous freshly made charcoal grilled octopus accompanied by a daikon salad and spicy dressing.

Generally this small lively market attracted lots of people. With only one vegetable stall and most other stalls with items of little interest to me I doubt I will return in a hurry. But if you haven’t been to the High St market, then visiting New Norfolk and including this could be worthwhile.

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New Norfolk Food Gardens and Markets – part 2 of 3

After leaving the Derwent Valley Community Garden we sought out the Lachlan River Co-op with the expectation of buying fresh fruit and vegetables. I wondered whether this was the place where I might find hot-house grown New Norfolk tomatoes. Situated on Ring Road off The Avenue the Co-op presented in a repurposed industrial building.

The Co-op was unappealing outside and the interior was gloomy. We were surprised to see a number of stalls spread around within the various spaces of a building designed for other purposes. We were the only buyers and the sellers meandered desultorily and never attempted a persuasive approach to sales. When my friend said hello to one and asked the normal courtesy question ‘how are you?’ with the expectation of the normal reply of ‘fine’, she was told ‘I have been better’ and then he regaled her with some of his health woes. A very depressing building and a very depressing sales environment.

Only one stall sold vegetables and clearly they were not locally grown. They looked tired and aged – or perhaps it was the quality of the light around them. I felt sorry for the whole place and decided to buy a few potatoes hoping they might have been locally grown. I noted they looked old and seemed to have had their sprouts knocked off. Nevertheless I hand-picked a few firm ones from a majority of potatoes that were soft and bending. So sad. Undoubtedly the people, with their stalls of items that held no interest for me, were waiting to make an income for their efforts and expenditure. We wondered why they opened on the Saturday when the High St market was surely attracting all the buyers –that is the market where we headed next.

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New Norfolk Food Gardens and Markets – part 1 of 3

A few weeks ago a Hobart vegetable market sold me tomatoes which they claim were grown in a hot house in New Norfolk. They tasted full and rich as if they had been grown in a southern summer sun. I wanted to find out more and buy more. So last weekend friend J and I headed west of Hobart to one of the first established towns in Tasmania (1808 – five years after the first colonial settlement at Risdon not far from the centre of current Hobart). We travelled roughly 35 kms from Hobart to New Norfolk passing by the side of the Derwent River. Before the centre of this historic town we deviated left and wandered through a spreading residential area before spotting the Derwent Valley Community Garden ‘down in a hollow’, somewhat as a friend had described it to me – off The Avenue. It was on a flat next to the river which undoubtedly over the years had been flooded and silted and amassed a spread of great soil.

I was impressed by the scale of the Community Garden: fenced, many personal and communal plots, an extensive irrigation system, open access, and an honour system to pay for any produce taken.

Of all the produce I would have been interested in, only Brussel sprouts appealed. However, without a knife to cut a stalk I came away without taking/buying any produce.

Evidence of commitment and devotion were everywhere.

The diversity of plants was impressively labelled.

Playful whimsy was also in evidence.

My friend and I were the only ones present. Nearby, a track followed the Lachlan River and occasional walkers with their happy dogs proceeded along. Pastoral. Peaceful.

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Preserving lemons

At this time of the year, those with successful lemon trees are giving away some of their produce. Possibly you can cook only so much fish and use lemons as a garnish, before you need a change of diet. So, preserving your excess of lemons makes sense.

I did this last year and I am still working my way through the last jar of preserves that I made.

Recently, when visiting friend C, she showed me some of her latest bottling.

So, if you have a lemon tree or someone gives you a bag of lemons, I strongly recommend you salt the excess and store. Many websites will explain the incredibly easy process. For example, here and here. Most sites show the use of a whole lemon almost quartered. C and I both cut the lemon into wedges and this works fine.

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