TIP #2 Pest Control in Everlastings

Everlastings, like any plant grown from seed, are highly susceptible to pests. Slugs and snails are the most problematic, followed by  rabbits. The best method is prevention. Be aware of the pests you may encounter and take steps to eliminate predatation.

Slugs and Snail control

If you have a garden with snails and slugs then you WILL need to apply one of the following;

Slug pellets or snail pellets. These come in a rain-fast or a non-rain-fast versions. The rain-fast version is 2 to 3 times more expensive and provides longer lasting protection. The non rain-fast version is still very effective, but will not last as long. Both are harmful to pets.

Iron phosphate pellets. These are not as effective as the slug pellet because the snail / slug has to ‘stumble’ across them, rather than be attracted to them. You will have to apply more iron phosphate pellets; however they are also not very expensive and no harm is caused to animals.

Non-chemical. Home remedies. These may include a beer trap (the slug is attracted to the beer and drowns), eggshells in your garden, slug repellent, using bran or gravel around the garden, and placing fly wire over your site so snails cant traverse. For further information regards natural methods of slug control – aumanns.com.au).

REMEMBER, slugs come at night, so often they are undetected as the cause of your loss of seedlings.

Mites

Mites are a huge broadacre issue, using chemicals is the best method to control. These come in two forms – a synthetic pyrethroid chemical which is quite harmless to humans and animals, and organophosphate which is very effective, but can cause problems with toxicity in the long term.

There are indirect natural ways of dealing with mites, for example, companion planting, and planting species that will lead to common insects controlling the mite or the use of eco oils.

DON’T TREAT mites unless you have them!! They can very quickly become resistant to control methods.

Rabbits

Very hard to control!, but fortunately the taste for everlastings is an afterthought and they will preferentially graze other species first. Therefore, the best method of control is removal by baiting or other method, or encouraging them to eat something else (grain or hay).

Tip #1 Weed Control in Everlastings

Weeds in any farming situation, are the NUMBER ONE consideration. In broadacre agriculture the research and funding placed into developing new chemicals and methods is substantial, so progress is fast, however with growing Everlastings, these recommendations are not available.. so it is a little bit of trial and error!

Everlastings are in the family ‘Asteraceae’, which is the same family as Capeweed. Capeweed is the nemesis to the Everlastings, because it produces the same fluffy white seed, and as different to the Everlastings’ upright nature, it smothers and forms a large taproot to obtain all the available ground and nutrition. It is used in some countries for its ability to dominate, and cover bare soil.

Capeweed cannot be controlled by chemical methods within an everlasting crop. The only method of removal is mechanical, using a shovel, or hand pulling the weeds. Of course, the other method,  is to control capeweed and other weeds, BEFORE the everlasting crop is even attempted. To do this, after the opening rains (or using irrigation), you can either fallow the site, keeping the the site bare and removing the germinating weeds until weeds are in small numbers… or chemically spray the site. If your weed burden is still large, it may be worth waiting a little longer for further germinating weeds, and repeating this control method, ensuring the most success, then plant!

Remember: Weed control is number one!!

There is hope for controlling grass weeds in Everlastings. Most chemicals kill Everlastings, except fusillade, a grass selective herbicide. So if your Everlasting site has predominantly ryegrass, or other grass weeds, there is hope! Use label recommendations to spray evenly over the crop. The sooner you spray the weedy crop the better, as there may be some implications to the Everlastings with any chemical spray. As mentioned, it is important to prepare your Everlasting site in the years prior. Monitor the weed burden and look to control the weeds so when you plant, there is not an overwhelming weed burden. Any weed that is allowed to grow, will not seem like much at the time, but one plant leads to 100s of plants, and soon the site will be exhausted by numbers. There is also the chance of a weed-seed bank in the soil. Weeds will come up in future years, even though you thought you had controlled them. Everlastings are not a strong vigorous plant, so weeds soon become dominant. This is why the plant is not an environmental weed. It is often a method to ‘tickle-up’ the soil, to aid with the germination of these weeds, having an even better chance of control. Do this by watering, gently raking and waiting 10 days, then removing the germinated weeds. Repeat if necessary.

Another method is to plant a legume as a break crop before seeding the Everlastings. This will add plenty of nutrition and nitrogen, and provide a different option for chemical control of weeds for the year, then plant the Everlastings. Perfect!

Australian Country – The Power of Pink

Western Australian farmers Jen and Rob Warburton turned their everlasting flower crop into a force for good with an inspirational fundraiser.

The adage that when the going gets tough, the tough get going could have been coined for Western Australian sheep and grain farmers Jennifer (Jen) and Rob Warburton. As newlyweds in 2000 they were challenged by a double whammy of Jen’s diagnosis and setbacks with Multiple Sclerosis (MS)and Rob’s diagnosis and treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

While both could have been forgiven for crawling under the doona and remaining there forever, they took it in their stride, enduring treatments, which involved arduous 600-kilometre round trips to Perth from their farm near Kojonup in WA’s Great Southern region. Family rallied and helped with seeding while Rob underwent chemotherapy and he was lucky to emerge from a tough six months of treatment with his health regained. Then the couple faced another set of challenges as they faced the rigours of IVF and finally welcomed daughters Lucinda, who is now 19 and Zara, 15, into the world. As if that weren’t enough to deal with, last year Jen was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer and underwent surgery and chemo, which only ended in February this year. In the middle of all this, Jen still deals with MS with regular medical and physiotherapy appointments, and a gradual decline in her mobility, which means that she now needs a Zimmer frame to walk and relies on Rob’s constant presence if she has to walk unaided.

View the full magazine article here.

In the News

Lucindas Everlastings feature on the ABC News. Jen and Rob talk about the business and how it fits in to their grain and sheep property.