Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Bugs Galore

We have been plagued in the hothouse by bugs, that seemed to resist our regular spraying attempts. These tiny mothers lay eggs in flower buds, and new leaves, and the result is a lot of damaged flowers and very low productivity. Very frustrating.

The advisor that we used visited yesterday and was really amazed at the damage done. He rates things from 1 = mild damage, to 5 = severe. He crossed 5 out and indicated it was far worse. No number given. Recommended another spray. It is far more toxic and no doubt will destroy our good bugs. We prefer to use good bugs to kill off some of the predators we get in the Gerberas, so will just have to purchase some more shortly. After we've got rid of this moth and the damage and when all the toxins have been flushed out of the plants.

We cannot pick tomorrow - our normal picking day, as we cannot go near or in the hothouse for 24 hours + - because of the spray.

Apparently during the spraying the moths were falling over dead. Instantly.

Monday, January 29, 2007

A gift

We love to give our flowers away. These were given to our hostess on Australia Day. The "vase" is just a glass jug that they found to be rather useless as a jug as the contents spill when they pour. As a vase it works quite well. Remember to cut nearly an inch from the bottom of the stems and make sure all are under water. You only need two or three inches of water in the vase. To keep them lasting change the water every couple of days and trim the bottom of the stems again.
Some people add bleach, but we seldom do. Just a drop might be helpful.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The weather plays havoc

Not a really good time - production is down, we are still plagued by the brown apple moth, which seems to defy the chemical we have sprayed. The heat and humidy along with the cloudy days has not been good for the flowers.

Normally we would put special white paint on the roof by October, but we've only just done it on hothouse two. There is not a lot of light - with the clouds and the flowers love light.

We are told that in Holland, the light is artificial as there is not enough natural light even during the day. If one flies into Holland at night apparently the ground is lit up with the lights encouraging the gerberas and other flowers to flower. Seems that the Dutch are surprised how might daylight we have here.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Gerberas and the film crew

The local federal member of Parliament was the subject of a film shoot around the suburbs yesterday, in preparation for the federal election later this year. They did a series of filming in the Gerbera Farm, with me as one of the stars. I really enjoyed it though I never like being filmed.

They needed children for one part of it, so the grand daughters did their bit, so we expect them to be on the television screen later in the year.

It was quite exciting and they dressed in their very best clothes for the event. Quite little actresses they are although they only had a walking piece.

The Entrepreneur

Little Miss A, our granddaughter saw her little school friend with a digital camera on New Year's Even and learned how she had saved up for it herself. Miss A decided to do the same. Pocket money is now $4 a week but she worked out that it would take a long time, so negotiated to sell the seconds from the farm gate.

She created a sign which says "Flowers $3 a bunch", got her fold up chairs, and buckets of flowers and set up. She did a roaring trade in an hour and made nearly $60. She'd done it several times since, and I think the camera will be purchased next week.

What a clever little girl! It's rather funny, as we had discussed doing the farm gate sales some time ago, but her mother didn't approve of us doing it. She didn't want people knowing we had the flowers there.

We will discuss it again - as we knew it would be quite financially rewarding, and if we made an extra $100 week, which is quite reasonable it equates to $5200 a year.

It will be on the agenda for the next farm meeting.

Weather woes

Gerberas love bright sunny hot days! We've had warm, often cloudy, humid days, and in fact inconsistent weather which they don't like. We are still fighting agains the little brown apple moth that has infested the place and we are still losing too many flowers.

They get in and burrow (that is the caterpiller) into the flower. They eat bits of the petals, and sometimes drag the petal over them. In any case the flowers are useless to us.

We've had lots of "seconds" so that is disappointing. The flower business is a bit slow after Christmas so it is not so bad for us. I guess at this time of the year many folk are concerned about their spending over the festive season, and for parents with school children they are bracing for the cost of returning to school.

We've upped the spraying and continuing with the de leafing as the moths find it easier to hide from the spray in the dense foliage. We've had a few patches of spider mite too, but that has been dealt with.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Miniature Gerberas

Each year we get wonderful catalogues from the various propogators of Gerberas listing with stunning photographs the new season's flowers. We order months in advance. We had always grown standard gerberas - the ones most commonly seen in florist shops, and we had decided in the early days not to grow the minis.

But last year we did put in several rows of minis and they have done very well. The plants themselves are as vigorous growing as the standards, but the flower is smaller. The stems are usually long and strong, and they've been a good seller for us too. One florist in particular buys mostly the minis so it has been good. They are very easy flowers to manage and come up well in arrangements.