Posts Tagged ‘disease


Biosecurity and the RWC: How much will that cup really cost us?

What happens when you drop the border protection standards for a primary exporting country, just so rugby fans can get into the country quicker? ? ? ?

Industry group Horticulture New Zealand is right to be concerned by a drop in NZ’s border control for the Rugby World Cup. They claim more than 270,000 passengers have walked straight through our international airports without having bags x-rayed.

“If we are simply doing this to save 15 minutes for rugby fans, then I really hope they’ve got this right. Because the risk is enormous – $800 million alone, just in the Bay of Plenty, not to mention upwards of 5000 jobs lost. All it takes is one Queensland Fruit Fly, found in one monitoring trap, on one orchard. International markets will close to us, for at least a year, if not longer,” said HortNZ president Andrew Fenton.

Just when you thought that $1.2billion was more than enough for New Zealand to spend on the Rugby World Cup.

Tiny insects couldn’t really cause that much damage, right?

This comes on the back of a new report from industry group Potatoes NZ. The nation’s chip supply, is at the mercy of a tiny potato/tomato psyllid Bactericera cockerelli. The pest has cost the potato industry over $100million in the last 3 seasons alone. One of the resulting diseases of infestation is liberibacter that causes zebra chips. I prefer ghost chips myself.


E. Coli: Lessons for the Home

The E. Coli outbreaks that have become so prevalent overseas lately are enough to make one’s spinach wilt at the mere thought. It does soldify in my mind one simple lesson for the home gardener :

NEVER put fresh manure on your vegetable garden. ALWAYS make sure it is composted well, for at least 6 months, with lashings of lime.

Also foragers beware. With the amount of fecal matter escaping from this country’s bovine masses, cooking the greens you source from riverbanks might be a mighty clever idea. The CDC says E. coli in spinach can be killed by cooking at 70°C for 15 seconds. (Water boils at 100°C.)


NZ Product Recall for Spinach and Salads

Ugh. has just sent out an email about vegetable products that may be contaminated with listeria. Particularly nasty for pregnant women.

The following products with a best-before date of 12/01/2011 to 19/01/2011 inclusive are affected:

  • Pams Fresh Express Baby Spinach, 120g bag, 300g bag, 2kg loose bulk
  • Pams Fresh Express Green Cos & Spinach Mix bag 120g
  • Living Foods Spinach 120g bag, loose bulk Spinach 1kg, 2kg, 3kg
  • Living Foods Mediterranean Salad 295g

Sold in New World, Pak’n Save, 4 Square, Gilmours and independent retail fruit and vegetable shops and wholesalers throughout New Zealand.

Just another reason to grow your own!


What to do
The products should not be consumed. There have been no reports of illness, however anyone concerned about their health should seek medical advice.

Customers with Pams Fresh Express products should ring customer services on 0800 245 114 for a full refund and any queries.

Customers with Living Foods products should return the product to their retailer for a full refund. Phone customer services on 09 257 1083 with any concerns or queries.


Pestilence and disease

Holidays, no matter how wonderful, take their toll. Two weeks in Melbourne was amazing and I’ve got lots of great pictures and posts to cover that over the next couple of days. But the wonderful/sinister side of eating out so often is that nutrition gets all out of whack – restaurants aren’t known for their endowment of green vegetables on the plate. Combined with not taking my super-immunity booster tonic while away and the recycled air of planes, I’ve spent the last three days sneezing, wheezing and whining. I hate colds.

A huge thanks to Malcolm Harker’s Immuno-Nurse, Kereru’s Cold Balm and my Florence Nightingale husband for getting me through this. Malcolm Harker‘s formulas are the wasp’s nipples and it’s a little wrong to admit it but I really like the taste. After a hideous year of colds and flus last year, I’ve been great since taking Immuno-Nurse (up until this little self-inflicted situation). And for those who object to the smell of Vicks – the Cold Balm is magic. It smells wonderful and is a beautifully-textured cream.

As much as I thoroughly recommend these products, they probably won’t do much to fight the other lurgies lurking at the bottom of my garden. The cabbage white fly numbers we were maintaining at a reasonable level by vigilantly squishing caterpillars on a daily basis, hit the up-curve while we were away and took out my cavolo nero crop.

This plague too was really bad management on my part – the plants down there don’t get enough light and were struggling. The healthier your plants, the less prone they are to attack. I hadn’t done enough to control the numbers and once those little vege-munchers reached critical mass, they just partied and partied on my kale and I lost the battle. Sometimes in organic gardening, you just have to admit defeat and move on.

And that little lesson illustrated some of the points in Sunday’s workshop on Pests, Weeds and Diseases with Colin. Ironically, I was too diseased to stay the whole afternoon and left before my sneezes really started pestering people. But the main points were:

—  Observation is the key to everything. You have to get out and look at what’s happening in your garden. And you have to act on your observations before it is too late and the thistles/aphids/whitefly/kikuyu take control.

—  Companion planting is great, encourage biodiversity but you need to experiment and observe. One little companion plant won’t protect your entire patch. There is no recipe on how many to plant because it is completely dependent on your own circumstances/environment.

—  Prevention is better than cure. Because there is no cure if your entire crop gets wiped out.

—  Weeds are often indicators of soil or environmental conditions. Find out what your weeds are telling you. Then build that knowledge into your long-term management strategy.

If you are serious about growing healthy vegetables well – you have to think long-term. Work on building up your skill set and your soil over years. It’s the same as working on your health. You learn to prepare better food, build up your immunity, get fit – all of these things take time. Gardening and health work wonderfully together. They’re long journeys but incredibly joyful, affirming and fulfilling ones.


Mildew Spray

So much for summer – we’ve been inundated with misty overcast horrible grey days and the wind has knocked the stuffing out of my plants. First sunny dry day, I’ll be out there cut things back, allowing air to circulate, clearing out detritus and generally cleaning up. I suspect I’ll also need a bucket-load of mildew spray. I have some courgettes that will be gagging for it.

* 1 teaspoon baking soda * 1 cup milk * 1 cup water

Mix together and spray liberally.

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