by Wally Richards


This week I noticed a distinct chill in the air, first thing in the morning, which could be described as a very light frost.

Others must have noticed it in their localities as orders started coming in for Vaporgard, the spray on frost protection.

Now if you think back to March months in the past years, it start to get chilly very early and it is more into April and May that one starts to realise that winter is getting into gear.

March is the first month of autumn in New Zealand and we have just started autumn with some leaf colour changes. In autumn, New Zealand enjoys some of the most settled weather of the whole year.

Soak up long, sunny days and golden leaves with hiking, cycling or kayaking.

Looking overseas, there are a number of late cold events in places such as California where snow is certainly not common, even in winter.

I would not be surprised if we have a really cold winter this year and an early start to it. So time to get organised for winter chills in your garden and in your home.

Did you know that your bank is offering Green Loans to people for such things as insulation, double glazing, heat pumps and solar power systems?

I am in the process of installing an off-grid solar power system I purchased from China for my warehouse and my bank has happily lent the cost of installation under this new leaning criteria.

So what to do to protect your garden against the coming cold and frosts?

First thing: soft sappy growth of plants caused by nitrogen fertilisers will suffer unless you harden the growth up by applying Wallys Fruit and Flower Power, which is half potash, to firm up growth and half magnesium to help ensure foliage stays green in winter.

A small sprinkling once a month starting now will toughen and green up your plants for winter.

Decidious plants such as roses and many fruit trees will drop their leaves and rest over winter so there is no point of using Wallys Fruit and Flower Power till the spring when they start to move for the new season.

Wet weather in winter takes a toll on plants that dont like wet feet, and can often lead to their deaths.

Mulches that you used in summer around plants should now be removed as they prevent the soil from drying out and will cause root rots. They are great for summer water retention but deadly in winter. Even weed mat can cause a problem in a wet winter.

It is now time to start a monthly treatment of plants that do not like wet feet such as citrus trees by spraying the foliage with Wallys Perkfection, once a month for the next 3 to 6 months. It fortifies the roots making them less susceptible to rotting in wet soil.

The above takes care of your preferred evergreen plants, but what about the ones that are frost tender such as passion fruit, advocados, tamarillos, hibiscus, citrus etc? Also glasshouse plants such as tomatoes, capsicum and chili that you are wintering over?

It is time to spay the foliage with Wallys Vaporgard; ‘Spray on Frost Protection’.

It comes in two sizes: 100 ml which makes 6.66 litres of spray which is often enough to do all the cold sensitive plants in many gardens once, or 250 ml which makes up 16.66 litres of spray.

Place the Vaporgard bottle into a jug of hot water so it pours better and then mix with warm water at 15 mils per litre.

You can add some Magic Botanic Liquid to the spray which your plants will appreciate.

Only spray on a sunny day in full sun light over the plants leaves so the film dries faster.

It gives down to minus 3 degrees frost protection within 3 days of application for about 3 months.

So a spray now should be repeated about the middle of June to take your plants out of winter.

If you don’t use all the spray mixed up, remove from the sprayer and store in a bottle in a dark cupboard. It can be used again later. Then and most importantly; immediately rinse out the sprayer with fresh water and tip out.

Then another lot of water which you will spray as a jet (adjust the nozzle to make a jet) to ensure that filters and nozzles don’t block when Vaporgard sets. If you dont do this straight away you will have problems cleaning it the next time you go to use it. The above is good practise to do with any sprays you use in your sprayer.

In areas where frosts are very heavy then you can add Wallys Liquid Copper to the Vaporgard spray and that places an extra layer of particles over the foliage to give even better frost protection.

How does Vaporgard work? Besides putting a protective film over the leaves it acts as a sunscreen against UV.

VaporGard develops a polymerised skin over each spray-droplet which filters out UVA and UVB. This provides a sunscreen for chlorophyll which is normally under attack by UV light.

This results in a darker green colour of the foliage within a few days of application. This chlorophyll build-up makes the leaf a more efficient food factory producing more carbohydrates, especially glycols.

Glycol is anti-freeze so the plant has its own anti-freeze protection of the cells. The cells still free but are protected with the anti-freeze.

That is fine if you have a frost every few days but if there is several frosts night after night then the cells dont have enough time to heal before they are fozen again.

That being the case you need to use additional protection such as frost cloth for the second and third frosts.

Vaporgard will ensure that you dont get caught out from that unexpected frost.

Once you have winter-proofed your gardens then also change watering patterns of your indoor plants which will suffer inside during winter if the mix is wet.

A little water as needed is best for winter indoor plants, keeping the mix a little on the dry side.

Most important after watering is that you remove any water from the saucer below the pot. If at this time you find when you water the water quickly fills the saucer below then you have a problem called soil tension which prevents the water from wetting all the growing medium.

If the pots are not too big then plunge them into a tank of water and watch them bubble away.

When they stop bubbling, lift and let drain before placing back on saucer. They will accept water better next time. If the containers are too big to plunge then mix some dishwashing liquid into warm water, lather up and water that over the growing medium. It will break surface tension.

Two interesting things were reported this week one about severe climate events which we have recently seen.

Ian Wishart did some investigating and here is the outcome on The Daily Examiner.

One thing for sure is the climate during my lifetime has changed and not for the better. But then it has been changing from the day planet Earth came into being, so what’s new?

In other events: Silicon Valley Bank Collapsed yesterday; a bid to reassure investors went awry. The failure of Silicon Valley Bank was caused by a run on the bank.

The company was not, at least until clients started rushing for the exits, insolvent or even close to insolvent. Other banks are in trouble now also.

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