Your Summer Fruit starts now!

Your Summer Fruit starts now!

Now this may be the strangest time to talk about your summer fruit. If you were industrious through the summer, the only summer fruit that you have left is in the jam pantry and the chutney jar.

So why talk about summer fruit in late Autumn?

There are numeeerous reasons, most of them obvious, and one that may be new. It was new to me, I tried it, and as the song goes “I’m a Believer!”

The typical reasons:

1. Mulch you fruit trees to retain the moisture right through winter. Your trees will say “I love you soooo much”.

2. Remember to still water your trees in winter.

3. Pruning season is coming – prepare for it (I will have more on this end of May).

4. You should plant new trees now, and perhaps take out some of the dead or dying.

The interesting bit:

Last year I read a snippet somewhere (sorry, author, can’t remember) about controlling fruit flies. And I tried this strange method. And it worked REALLY well. Out of all my fruit I munched and jammed I had about five fruit (yep, FIVE) out of more than 100 kg of fruit, that had larvae in them.

Now, just how is that possible, you may ask? And this is just the place to find out. As you may have gathered, I hate poisons. So, it will have to be organic? Also, I love recycling, so it has to involve that as well? Yes.

And here is the whole story:

Take an empty 2l cool drink bottle. Keep the cap on, and make a hole on the side, about 10cm from the top of the bottle. The hole is bout the size of a new R5 coin. Careful when you cut it, easy to cut yourself doing this. I use a hole drill, as its a zip-zap process then. (Just because I like recycling does not mean I like drudgery).

Now put in about half a cup of sugar. Fill it with water to about 1l. Tie a string to the top and hang it from your fruit tree, one bottle per tree. (No, this will not stop you dogs from pooing under the trees).

And that’s it!

But how does it work, you may ask?

Apparently, according to Author Unknown, in winter, the randy little male fruit flies come along and put some pheromone trails on the fruit trees. This attracts the females in spring, where they then get a chance to fertilise them and there are your larvae in the fruit.

So, if you get the men in the winter time, or before spring, you stop the cycle? Yep.

Ok, I was a skeptic. But why not? I asked myself.

What I found was that right through winter there were drowned fruit flies in the bottles. (You have to fill them up when they are empty, just with water, the sugar stays. Mine freezes solid, but I chose sunny spots, so they thaw quickly.)

Also, I found a few coddling moths (nasties, those). But, no bees! So, if the bees use my traps, they are too smart to get caught.

So, are you a skeptic? Try it, I challenge you. I am so confident now that I can pick fruit at night and much them without even worrying if I’m getting in some additional “protein”.

fruitfly infested

fruitfly infested

Herbie sprays again

How about a herbal spray that REALLY controls those nasty aphids. Yes, even the wooly Australian ones!

Three little herbs (not so well known, but if you ask your local nursery, not too difficult to obtain:




Rue (Ruta graveolens) is no longer commonly used in cooking, but is an attractive and interesting addition to the herb garden. If you like authentic Ethioppian and Grecian cooking flavours, you may find that rue is the secret ingredient. However, one should be careful, as exposure to rue can cause severe blistering of the skin when exposed to the sun, a condition called phytophotodermatitis.




Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) has a very characteristic odour and is well-known in its use as an insect repellent  It is used to repel fleas and moths indoors, and repels larvae of many pests when planted in the garden. Very recent studies (2012) (see reference below) links this wonderful herb to the possibilities of an alternative treatment for breast cancer.





Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) is an interesting herb that smells like camphor with a hint of rosemary. It is a strong insect repellent with specific effectiveness in repelling worms. In ages past it was used in embalming processes. In England it is used in windowsills to repel flies.

Now, to bubble bubble toil and trouble:

1 handful of rue

1 handful of wormwood

1 handful of tansy

250ml pure soap powder

2 liters of boiling water

Boil the herbs in a little bit of the water for about 5 minutes, then add it to the pot of boiling water.

Add the soap powder.

Strain and use undiluted to spray plants infested with aphids.

This not only kills the ones you see, but also repels the ones carried around by the industrious farmer ants.




Shafi et al., Artemisia absinthium (AA): a novel potential complementary and alternative medicine for breast cancer. Molecular Biology Reports. 2012, 39, 7, 7373-7379


Organic Insect Sprays

As the weather cools down (a lot faster than in Pretoria, just down the road), I am wrapping up the summer garden, gathering seeds and cleaning up. Which reminded me to post a note on the very effective ways I battled the chompy chewies this year.
Returning from a trip to Malawi, I found that the knowledge gained is quite portable and needed by avid gardeners everywhere!
Well, here goes:

insect-sprayHome made garlic soap spray (Got this from JG Simpson’s excellent book Food from Your Garden):
(The secret here is using oil-based soaps and not detergents. I use Bingo Blue soap bars.)

3 large heads of garlic (85-100g)
6 tbsp medicinal paraffin oil
1 tbsp grated oil-based soap
500ml hot water

Roughly chop the garlic, put into a blender with the paraffin and pulp. Scrape into a bowl, cover it and leave for about 2 days.
Take the hot water (I use an old plastic jug for this), grate in the soap and stir until dissolved.
Stir this warm mixture into the garlic paraffin pulp.
When cooled down, scoop into old jam jars (Screw top) and refrigerate it.

To use: take two tbsp of this and mix into 2 liters of water.
Spray the plants, especially under the leaves if you have nasties like mealie bugs.

To add some oomph, you can add some chillies to the garlic mixture and blend it in.
(Just don’t confuse this jar with your others if you love making Indian food like I do, and have some garlic paste and chilli paste that you home-made!)

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