Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Elephants in the Orange Trees

 It wasn't until almost the entire centre of my Seedless Valencia had turned yellow that I woke up an realised something might be wrong. I guess the more you think your ship is unsinkable, the more surprised you are when you hit an iceberg - and maybe more to the point, the less likely you are to be concerned. That would definitely be the story of my orange trees - they just seem so self reliant.

At first I thought this maybe be a recent chicken problem expressing itself in citrus form, or just due to the lack of rainfall recently... but to be so localised in one area of one tree - no, couldn't be. And then I got closer and saw the sooty mold (which always means a sap-sucking insect) and the millions of tiny nodules seeming growing from the leaves and bark. A scale infestation.

How could I possibly miss this, you might ask? It's not like it's a small infestation, so much as a full-scale invasion. But with an average of about fifteen minutes a day to keep my garden in order, hell, you could hide a herd of elephant amongst my orange trees and I wouldn't know about it until the trees weren't there any more. So, I should add, I actually caught this one early.

So I spent my 10 minutes this morning mixing up the concoction of sunflower oil and dish-washing detergent that is white oil, as per described by my mate Jerry. Its basically a mix of 1 part detergent to 4 parts oil, diluted to 2 or so teaspoons per litre of water.

Its not a perfect time of the year to be applying white oil, because ideally you don't want to be covering spring blossom with the stuff - but as the tree is under so much stress at the minute, its a little more worried about the life being sucked from its limbs than producing fruit in a timely manner.

Hopefully over the next week most of the scale will suffocate along with a few other pests, like leaf miner, that will conveniently get caught in the crossfire. Then just to be sure, I'll hit it with oil again. And again.

Also, where I usually leave fruit on the tree until I need it, I'll be lightening the burden completely in the coming week so the tree can focus its full attention on not dying.

Juice, anyone?


  1. Well, be glad you did catch it--hope you get it under control. Oranges--oh yummy!

    1. Just quietly, it is a touch shameful that it did get this far. Its pretty awful-looking in there, and I'm sure I've seen the signs in the lead-up and just seen passed them. Anyway, I hit them with some magnesium a few weeks back, so the oranges should be nice, sweet & juicy for the picking.