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June 2023

Dear Tanya… 

I got this in my compost bags that I bought at a nursery. Is it miswurms or cutting worms?  Are they good or bad for my plants? Much thanks, Nellie.

Hi Nellie,

These are rhino beetle larvae that feed on decaying vegetable and plant matter as well as rotting wood which helps decomposition.  The adult beetles feed on nectar and sap. I most certainly would not recommend any treatment as I believe these guys are super important to our ecosystem. If, however you find a huge infestation of them in your soil and they are damaging plant roots or stem tissue then an insecticide can be used. I would rather scoop them up and drop them off at a park or nearby field. You can read more about the rhinoceros beetle right here on our website. Probably the most interesting fact about these guys, is that in Japan they are sold as pets in stores! Happy hunting!

Dear Tanya… 

My cousin in Hillcrest gave me this flower but doesn’t know its name. It’s in my complex in Pietermaritzburg. We think it’s a crocus but a friend’s botanist son says a romulea. Please help! Regards Margaret Shepherd

Hi Margaret,

This is called the fairy lily or rain lily, botanical name is Zephyranthes candida. The plant flowers through summer and into late autumn and is a favourite for moist boggy areas, but will also tolerate drier soils. Full sun to half day sun is preferred.  They will need a boost of Kyno Shrub, Flower & Fruit in early spring. The rain lily is indigenous to South America and is known to burst into bloom right after heavy rains, hence the name. Often confused with the crocus flower as they look so similar, however the foliage of the rain lily is thin and narrow and needle-like compared to the wider leaf of the crocus. All the best!

Dear Tanya… 

I have a red fig tree which always fruited really well. Unfortunately, we had to prune it drastically as it grew through a wire fence which had to be replaced. Three seasons later, the tree bared heavily again, but as soon as the fruit starts swelling, they drop off. How can prevent this? Kind regards, Marie Visagie.

Hi Marie, Fig tree fruit drop can be caused by a few things. The most common cause is lack of water. Now this sounds strange because we assume coming from the Mediterranean that they don’t need that much water.  However, during fruit set and growth they need a bit more regular watering. So, a good deep watering once a week unless it rains is important. Also remember that the roots of a fig can spread far, so make sure to water all around the root zone not only around the stem of the tree. The other reason is lack of pollinators.  Please be cautious when using insecticides that can kill wasps and bees that are so important to pollination, especially with figs. Finally, ensure that your tree is getting enough nutrition, especially micro-nutrients. Fertilise once or twice a year using KynoVeg, which is packed with good stuff and a good ratio for figs with not too much nitrogen and the all important potassium for fruit production.  Remember to place a thin layer of organic mulch around the base of your tree.  Good luck!

Dear Tanya… 

I regularly buy the magazine for gardening inspiration but never see anything about our region. I live outside Potchefstroom in the Vredefort Dome, North West Province. I am next to the Vaal River where we have warm summers and very cold frosty winters. I annually spend thousands of rand on new plants only to lose them due to frost and then have to start from scratch in spring again. Is there no advice for frost-tolerant plants for large farm gardens? I await your answer. Kind regards, Hesmé Schoeman

Hi Hesmé,

We are blessed to live in a country as diverse as ours, but this diversity also comes with its challenges, especially when putting together a magazine for the entire county.  Our writers strive in every article to provide all the information about the plants so that wherever you are living, you can make the right choice as to if the plant will work for you. To help, here are a few practical tips which I hope will make your gardening journey better:

1. If in doubt, cover it up. If you are worried or uncertain that a plant won’t cope with your cold winter then protect it with a layer of Frost Gard. This material can be left on the plants throughout the winter and the plants will still grow and thrive.  Remove the cover when temperatures start to warm up.

2. Always, always, mulch. This not only saves water, but most importantly insulates the soil and traps in warmth during the cold and cool during extreme heat.

3. Before buying a plant always ask the right questions! Will it cope in my climate? If in doubt, leave it. For me this is the hardest part of gardening, because we mostly buy plants with our eyes and if it sparkles, well then, we WANT it!

4. Knowledge is power, so please do spend a bit of time on our website – there are so many great articles on how to prepare you garden for the cold, cold-hardy plants and heat-tolerant plants.  All the best!

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using the subject line Kynoch’s Dirt Diaries.

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