Citrus Gall Wasp

citrus gall wasp

Female Citrus Gall Wasp laying eggs

Many of our more determined garden pests are not native to Australia but the Citrus Gall Wasp (Bruchophagus fellis) is definitely an Australian grown garden variety pest. Initially, this native wasp was partial to Queensland and northern New South Wales and its favoured congregation was native finger limes.  But the citrus gall wasp has quickly adapted to the broader variety of citrus fruits. Since the 1990’s it has successfully journeyed from Queensland, through NSW and can now be found as far south as Melbourne where it is virtually rampant on the iconic back yard lemon tree.

Adult citrus gall wasps are rarely seen as they are less than 3mm in size. The adults are meager flyers but can be windblown from other citrus trees nearby. The adult wasps mate in early to late spring when the female implants her eggs in the citrus tree that she herself emerged from just days before.  Often the larvae are already present in newly purchased citrus trees in spring.  The wasp larvae grow within the soft stem tissue for 9 to 12 months until they too pupate and emerge as adult wasps the next year.

Plants affected: All citrus trees, particularly lemons and grapefruit.

Damage Caused:

Fresh gall on citrus tree caused by citrus gall wasp larvae2

Wasp larvae growing inside the stem

The wasp larvae grow within the citrus stems until late summer when gardeners begin to notice unpleasant galls appearing on their trees.  These galls or calluses are formed in response to the presence of the feeding larvae. Galls cannot be ‘cured’ or reversed.  Old galls are unsightly but are also empty as the adult wasp will have left through the tiny exit holes.  Developing galls can be removed but this may also mean the forfeiture of developing fruit at the end of the infected stem. Citrus gall is more damaging to younger citrus trees than older trees.

Control Methods: Controlling citrus gall wasp can be problematic but damage can be minimized by:

  • Avoiding high nitrogen fertilizer in spring as this promotes soft sappy growth – just perfect for the egg laying stage. Feed trees in late autumn and early winter as an alternative.
  • Removing all newly formed galls that don’t show signs of exit holes before the end of winter. Old galls have already been exited.
  • Hanging yellow sticky traps inside infested trees from mid-August to trap emerging adult wasps. The yellow is an attractant and the sticky traps are impossible for the wasp to escape. Do not leave on after November as the wasps are no longer about and you may
    baby gall wasps

    Citrus Gall Wasp larvae hatching

    unintentionally trap valuable insects and even small birds.

  • Destroying plague-ridden stems by burning or soaking in water for a fortnight then bagging.

If you need help dealing with these ghastly creatures please don’t hesitate to call Jim’s Mowing on 0800 454 654 or book online for a free quote.

7 Household Products That Kill & Control Weeds

HowToKillWeeds

We’ve seen it too many times, beautiful flowers trying to grow and pesky weeds coming a long and destroying the beauty with their uncontrollable hunger for destruction. Luckily, you don’t have to spend a lot of money on weed control. These are 7 household products you can use to kill or control weeds in your garden.

  1. Shower curtains. Next time you splurge for a new shower curtain, don’t just throw your old one out, use it to control weeds in your backyard! Simply place the shower curtain under mulch to prevent weeds from growing through.
  2. After you throw your next party and have an extra half of bottle of vodka laying around, try using it to kill weeds. Mix 30ml Vodka with a couple of drops of dish soap and 2 cups water in a small spray bottle and spray the mixture directly on to the weed leaves until it runs off. Do this when it’s sunny, because the purpose of the mix is to dehydrate the weeds in sunlight and it may not be as effective in the shade.
  3. Bleach is too harsh for your garden, but if you have weeds growing up through cracks in footpaths or walkways, you can try pouring just a bit of bleach directly on to them to kill the weeds.
  4. Salt is another household item that is great for ridding your footpath of the pesky weeds that pop up in between cracks, it always works great to kill unwanted grass that springs up. Boil 2 cups water mixed with 1 cup of salt and pour the boiling mix directly on the weeds.
  5. Carpet pieces.If you’ve just redone your carpet and have some scraps laying around, use them under straw or mulch in your garden for a weed-less path. Place the scraps upside down under mulch. You can also use the smallest pieces for actual mulch in a veggie garden.
  6. Baking soda.As if this miracle product didn’t already have enough uses, now we know we can use it for a safe, effective way of controlling weeds. Sprinkle baking soda by the handful onto concrete and sweep into cracks where weeds are growing. The powder will make it much drier and harder for the weeds to grow, basically snuffing them out.
  7. 2-litre bottles.If you do choose to use herbicides, try using bottles to make a more controlled application. Single out the weed you want to kill and cut a 2-litre bottle in half, place the upper half of the bottle over the weed. Aim the wand in to the opening of the bottle and spray. Doing this protects all of the plants you DON’T want to harm while you’re spraying.

Call Jim’s Mowing on 0800 454 654  for all of your gardening needs or simply Book Online for a free, no-obligation quote!

The Scourge Of Aphids And How To Manage Them

aphids

We’ve all heard of them. We all hope they never rear their destructive heads. Until the one day you walk out into your beautiful garden to find it teeming with life, not the stoic green plants you have come to cherish like a member of the family but the minuscule leaf dwelling bugs that are the plague of any home gardener’s life.

The problems aphids present are numerous. They feed on your plants and literally suck the life right out of them causing them to lose that healthy green glow. Aphids produce a waste product called honeydew. It is a sweet, sticky substance that can become a danger to your garden as well. The sticky waste can mold and turn black which in turn can build up and block light from reaching your plants. Aphids reproduce quickly, a few days is enough to produce a new generation. A handful of Aphids one day can turn into a swarm that terrorizes your garden in just a weeks’ time.

Leaving this problem unchecked ensures it will get worse and could ultimately lead to the death of the entire garden. It’s important not to delay, what may seem like a mere annoyance at first can quickly turn into a garden threatening problem.

So how do we combat these little terrors? You could turn to pesticides but if this is a vegetable garden pesticides may not be an option. Even if the garden is strictly for flowers there are drawbacks to using pesticides. There is always the risk that pesticides could kill the bugs that are helping keep the aphid population low. Because of this, spraying pesticides could result in even more garden destruction than before.

A natural remedy may be the best option in this case. Aphids have natural predators whose interests for this short time align with yours. Encouraging lady bugs to hang around your garden is one natural remedy. Ladybugs use pollen as a food source. You can increase the ladybug traffic by planting cilantro, dill, geraniums, and tansies. These are all plants that Ladybugs would be attracted to.

Try Neem oil derived from the Neem Tree. It has both insecticide and fungicide properties, and systemic benefits (that is the plant can absorb it without harm and so can control insects even without direct contact).

“Organic Gardening” magazine also recommends their “Kitchen insect spray” – made by combining a garlic bulb, a small onion, and 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper in a food processor/blender.  Process into a paste and add about 1 litre of water then steep for 1 hour. Strain the mixture through a cheesecloth, then add a tablespoon of dishwashing liquid and mix again. This will keep for up to 1 week in the fridge.

An added problem is that other insects enjoy this sweet honey that aphid’s secrete. Ants in particular are fond of the sweet waste so it is natural to think they will set out to protect the producers of their sweet treat. The simplest way to deal with your garden ant problem is by using a mixture of sugar (powdered preferable but not necessary) and borax and leave in tiny dishes around the ant infested area. The ants will devour the sugary treat unaware of the deadly (to ants not us) borax lurking within the mixture and when they return their sweet prize to the nest the borax will run its course. Small amounts of Borax are found in some teeth whitening formulas so rest assured, you and your family are not in danger when using this sugar/borax method.

With just a few easy to follow steps you can ensure your garden stays aphid free and continues producing those favorite foods you love to grow yourself and that those beautiful plants will thrive all season long.

Jim’s Mowing can help you with all of your gardening requirements, just call on 0800 454 654 or book online for a free, no-obligation quote!

aphids-3

How To Combat Fruit Fly

Fruit fly-on peach

Yes you know them, those annoying little flies that are not only destructive, a nuisance but also unsanitary as they sometimes carry harmful bacteria.

In Australia, fruit flies are a cause of great distress and annoyance to a lot of home garden owners as they are known to destroy a range of nurtured vegetable and fruit crops within a short space of time.

Because the entire life cycle of the fruit fly takes between 1-2 weeks, they are known to increase rapidly in number with the female fruit flies laying up to 500 eggs at a time in favorable breeding areas or grounds.

How then can the infestation of fruit flies in our gardens be combated especially as they seem to multiply before our very own eyes?

 1. Destruction of feeding and breeding ground (source of attraction)

Fruit flies are majorly attracted to fruits and vegetables that are overripe. Care should be taken to pick out fruits and vegetables as soon as they become ripe. Rotten fruit, vegetable or plant material should not be left in the garden.

A clean garden free of debris is also important as fruit flies are known to live through the winter within them.

Finally, engage in proper compost management as fruit flies are greatly attracted to compost. For this reason, ensure that compost is at all times aerated and possibly contained or covered with a lid so as to reduce the fruit flies.

pheromone trap fruit flies

Pheromone Trap Fruit Flies

 2.  Using a pheromone trap

The pheromone trap is a successful form of mating disruption thus impeding egg-laying by the female fruit flies.

The concept behind the pheromone trap is that the male fruit flies are attracted to a powder containing the pheromone which is a female attractant. With the pheromone on the bodies of the male fruit flies, other males are attracted to them hence mating process is disrupted and egg-laying hindered. The effectiveness of the pheromone traps is in its ability to travel over long distances.

 3.  Use of protein-based baits

Because fruit flies need protein rich food to mature and sustain them, protein based baits (solution of protein and insecticide in water) are used to attract both male and female.

The protein-based bait is spot sprayed every two meters apart for effectiveness. After feeding on the droplets of the dispersed product, the fruit flies are killed. This method is intended for fruit fly control and the baits need to be changed every week.

4.  Exclusion method

This method of fruit fly control using exclusion bags or mesh over ripening fruits prevents the female fruit fly from getting to and laying her eggs in the fruit.

It is more effective to combine this method with the use of traps.

In conclusion, educate your neighbors on these methods of combating fruit flies such that with a wider area of kill, your fruit, vegetables and indeed whole garden is fruit fly free.  And of course, if Jim’s Mowing and Gardening team can help maintain your garden, as a one-off clean up or regular visits, don’t hesitate to call on 0800 454 654 or book online.

8 Tips For A Water Wise Garden

Owning and tending to a beautiful garden can require the use of a LOT of water. Luckily, there are plenty of things we can do to reduce water use and waste. Here are 8 tips to creating a perfect water-wise garden.

watering can

  1. Plan(t) carefully. By planning before you plant, you can save yourself a lot of stress in your gardening future. Pick areas to plant in your yard according to sun, shade, soil and wind. Choose plants that naturally need less water and group plants together according to their water needs. Also know how you will get the plants their water before you plant – will you need to carry water to a back corner in your yard?
  1. Switch up your soil. Adding organic matter to your soil can have a huge effect on the amount of water needed. Soils are made up of different sized particles. If the majority of the particles are large, like sand, the soil will absorb much more water, much more quickly, than if it was made of smaller particles, like clay.
  1. Mulch retains water. Around an 8 inch layer of (organic) mulch can drastically reduce water needs in a garden by reducing evaporation and blocking parched weeds. Organic mulches have the ability to retain water in themselves and raise the level of humidity around your plants. Organic mulches are made of leaves, straw, hay and grass. The inorganic mulches are things like rubber tree rings and the ‘pro weed mat’ – go organic, they’re much better for a water wise garden.
  1. Routine maintenance on your plants keeps them healthier, and when they’re healthier they require less water than when they’re thirsty and/or distressed. Simple maintenance aspects like pruning, pest-control and thinning can ensure your plants remain healthier and in need of less moisture.
  1. Use rain water. Rain water is unchlorinated, natural and free. Using rain water is the best choice for your plants and for you. Use barrels to collect the rains water during storms or a cistern to collect directly from the downspouts.  Or opt for some rain water tanks specifically for use in the garden.
  1. Consider losing some grass. Reducing your lawn can save you a tremendous amount of water. Turf grass is extremely thirsty and requires a lot of work to maintain. Reducing your garden and getting rid of some grass can help you save a lot of water. Consider hanging some low-maintenance plants and using mulch, instead.
  1. Water in the a.m. Watering your plants and garden early in the morning seriously reduces evaporation, therefore saving you water. Early irrigation also deters pests like snails and molds.
  1. Plant some native plants. Opting for plants that grow in drier climates means that they will require less direct watering from you.

irrigation

Contact Jim’s Mowing for all of your gardening needs on %%PHONE_NUMBER%% or book online for a free no-obligation quote!

6 Reasons for Going with Jim’s Mowing Franchise

There are a number of advantages to being involved in the Jim’s Mowing System. Being number one gives Jim’s Mowing Franchisees a huge advantage when it comes to work. As a group at most times of the year we have more work than they can handle, in fact, around 30,000 jobs go unserviced each year.

Jim’s Mowing is a lifestyle business. Be your own boss, working your own hours, and with the opportunity to build without limit. And yet with the backup and security of an established, proven system. A name you can trust since 1989.

6 Reasons for Going with Jim’s Mowing Franchise

1. A Healthy Outdoor Lifestyle

The outdoor life is a New Zealand tradition, from mountains to growing up in a suburban back yard. So for many New Zealanders, nothing beats a job involving work in the open air. The smell of cut grass and turned over earth, the satisfaction of turning a jungle into a garden, the pride in a job well done. Every day is different as our Franchisees learn and apply new skills: pruning, landscaping, fertilising, mulching, and feel strength and fitness increase as they work off those surplus kilos.

Many people would prefer to spend their days in an air conditioned office. Jim’s Mowing is a business for those who don’t.

2. Independence

Being outside also means independence, working the hours you want. These can be long and hard, especially when the grass is shooting. But it can also mean taking the afternoon off to attend a kid’s football match or even to play golf, taking a holiday when it suits you rather than the boss. This kind of freedom requires self-discipline and a sense of responsibility. We are looking for people who are self-motivated, who take responsibility for their mistakes and want to be rewarded for their efforts.

Backing this up is an intense, week-long training course which covers not only practical subjects such as pruning, fertilisers and plant identification, but sessions on quoting, up-selling, book-keeping, computer systems, health and safety, and customer service.

3. Plentiful Work

It is well known that most business fail in their first year, especially in the service industry. By contrast, 88% of our Franchisees are still in business at the end of their first year, with most of the rest selling for a good price. And many of those who leave do so for family or personal reasons, rather than poor income. One reason is that we are, on the whole, very good at finding work. In fact, during 2009 our Mowing Division knocked back 17,770 leads because all local operators were flat out. Many Franchisees start with an established round, and those who do not get a Work Availability Guarantee which pays up to $1500 per week for doing free promotional work. Unlike most such guarantees, this one does not cut out after a set period. In practice, most Franchisees never claim since work is plentiful from the beginning.

4. Customer Service

We recognise that success is a decision that each person makes for themselves. A Franchisee will fail, or can even be terminated, if they fail to offer excellent service to customers. One reason for our success is that more than 80% of our leads are driven by reputation and referral, rather than advertising as such. We have a careful selection process, and every Franchisee must live up to our exacting standards. What this means is that for people with high standards, this is a place to be surrounded by others who share their standards.

5. Ongoing Support

At Jim’s we put Franchisees first, and this is more than a slogan. Franchisees are entitled to regular meetings, fast response to their calls, and regular pro-active calls to provide coaching and advice. We poll Franchisees each year to check that proper service is being provided, and Franchisees with problems are invited to go direct to our founder, Jim Penman. He regularly gives out his personal phone numbers and Email address, and typically speaks to several Franchisees a week. Jim’s is the only Franchise system in the world that allows Franchisees to change to another Franchisor or even vote them out, if not happy with the service they receive.

Support also comes from fellow Franchisees, who are normally generous with help and advice. Our people are also encouraged to attend meetings and network with Franchisees of other Divisions. Some Franchisees gain more than half of their work in this way.

6. Build your Future

One unique feature of Jim’s is that a Franchise can grow to any size. There are no restrictions on the number of workers to be employed or vehicles on the road, and Mowing Franchisees have turned over up to a million dollars a year.

** Franchisee Enquiries **
If you are interested in becoming a Jim’s Mowing Franchisee please call 0800 454 654 and one of our friendly customer service staff will assist you with your enquiry. Or complete the Franchisee Information Request Online here and an information pack will be sent out.   Remember, we are expanding in many areas throughout New Zealand, and growing demand means we are looking to increase franchisees even in “existing” areas covered by Jim’s Mowing. We have more than 30,000 unserviced leads each year we need to address, and soon.

So if you’d like to know more about what’s involved in becoming a “Jim” then please Meet our Franchisees, read some of our Jim’s Franchisee Testimonials and register to attend one of our free Franchisee Information Sessions.

Tips on Pruning Plants

Important Tips on Pruning Plants

To keep your plants in shape, regular pruning is required whether your plants are grown inside or outside. Be careful though, over-pruning can be hazardous so it’s extremely important to know which plants to prune, when to prune and how. It is best to prune fruiting and flowering plants whilst they are not in bloom, however other plants such as shrubs and trees which blossom in the spring time, require the old buds to be pruned in order to blossom new ones. Some plants need pruning all year round, so it can be a little perplexing at first, just keep in mind that the worst case scenario is that your plant or plants may generate a reduced amount of fruits and flowers.

pruning-tools-1

 

Pruning Tools

Pruning can feel like a daunting task if you are a beginner gardener. To make the process easier, make sure that you possess the correct equipment. Here is a list of basic tools that will aid any gardener make their garden look its best.

  • Loppers – long handles with short sturdy blades – used for pruning thick branches that are hard to reach
  • Saw – needed for thick branches (15 cm +)
  • Shears – appear to be heavy duty scissors – useful for trimming branches and leaves that are not so thick
  • Hand Pruners – short thick blades – helpful for cutting thinner branches and stems (up to 3cm)

It is more practical to have all these basic tools on hand prior to commencing pruning and the better the quality the better the job they will do and the longer they will last. It is imperative to ensure all tools are cleaned properly after each use as some soil can be full of plant diseases and you really don’t want to transfer them onto other plants.

Flowering Trees, Shrubs and Vines

These three very different plant categories need pruning at all different times throughout the year.

 Flowering Trees and Shrubs

Flowering trees and shrubs normally blossom should be pruned mid-autumn as they bloom in spring. They can be pruned earlier if they have grown predominantly large but beware, you do not want to lose too many blooms in the process.

clematis

Clematis

Clematis

Clematis blooms on its own timetable, but generally it is best to prune them back after they have completed blossoming. This will ensure that they have room to continue growing for the next bloom. To guarantee a long life, vines need appropriate pruning, so it’s vital to pay close attention to the state of the Clematis.

Need help?

If you have need help pruning your garden, contact Jim’s Mowing on 0800 454 654 or Book a Pruning Job Online.