A picture of two hands holding some mulch

July edition of Backyard Buddies released

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development release a monthly guide to animal and plant pests, diseases and weeds. The July edition of Backyard Buddies focuses on preventing weeds by using mulch in your garden.

The header promting the Backyard Buddies Newsletter

Winter rains are building up moisture levels within the soil; aiding absorption of the nutrients and minerals needed to ensure a healthy plant. Weed seeds are also benefiting from this rain as it helps to provide the optimal conditions for weed germination.

The secret to successful and cost-effective weed control is to strike early, and nothing is earlier than prevention. So it’s important to implement weed management practices in your garden and understand the importance of using clean mulch from a reputable source.

Mulch is commonly used as a protective layer to maintain soil moisture by minimising evaporation. Mulch also prevents weeds by limiting the light required for weed establishment. However, contaminated mulch and the incorrect use of mulch can introduce new weeds into your garden or encourage existing weeds to germinate.

Ask questions of mulch suppliers or retailers to help avoid purchasing mulch contaminated with weed seeds.  Mulch that has not reached the optimal temperature required to kill most weed seeds, is not frequently turned or is left uncovered, poses a risk of weed contamination.

Composted mulch or mulch containing large quantities of plant debris and soil are not effective at weed suppression.  These act more like a soil they can compact and retain water; providing the perfect conditions for weeds to germinate and prosper.

If looking to suppress weeds, choose coarser mulch.  This is commonly made from chunks of wood or bark, and applied up to 4 inches deep.

A picture of two hands holding some mulch

You can also help protect your garden and our State by reporting suspicious or unusual weeds that pop up after fertilising or applying mulch to the Department of Primary Industries and Regional

Development (Previously the Department of Agriculture and Food WA) using our free mobile app MyWeedWatcher, or report via the department’s Pest and Disease Information Service by calling 1800 084 881 or email info@agric.wa.gov.au.

A picture of a hand holding a phone showing the MyWeedWatcher App

Pests and rides feature at Harvey Show

The Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group attended the 2017 Harvey Agricultural Show. Our enthusiastic committee members, made up of local property owners and representatives from the Shire of Murray and Harvey, tended the stall .

 

Three members of the Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group at the 2017 Harvey Agricultural Show.

Members from the Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group (from left) Marion Lofthouse, Colleen Archibald and Tom Lerner attend the 2017 Harvey Agricultural Show.

 

Committee member Marion Lofthouse reported that the day was very successful with new cotton bush infestations reported, “we were able to hand out lots of bumper stickers to interested community members as well as hand out control notes on cotton bush and other weeds”. Marion was also surprised to discover that although many community members were aware of the group through the Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group banners, strategically placed around the Peel-Harvey region, community members were still unaware of what cotton bush actually looked like. Marion says ” when they came to the stall to ask us what cotton bush actually looked like I could show them some cuttings and our potted samples to show them”.

 

Cotton bush

Narrow leaf cotton bush (Gomphocarpus fruticosus) is a declared pest in Western Australia (WA).

The Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group is looking forward to attending other community shows in 2017 and the events the group are attending can be found in the events section of our website. If you would like more information on the Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group explore the website or visit the Facebook page.

Declared weed infestations can be reported by contacting your local biosecurity group or via the MyWeedWatcher App.

 

Robinia suckers popping up in a suburban lawn

Global invader controlled by kero concoction

Robinia pseudoacacia L. (black locust) is recognized as a global invader due to its ability to colonise areas quickly, produce lots of seeds, and produce suckers when disturbed. It’s ability to fix nitrogen in the soil allows Robinia to spread into low quality soils, once used to reclaim disturbed sites, the plant is now recognized as a weed on most continents. Many gardeners plant Robinia species because of their golden appearance and large colourful flowers, however these species are grafted onto black locust root stock which produce thorny suckers when the roots are disturbed. These suckers can even pop up into neighboring yards 15m away causing disputes, some of which has led to civil action.

A picture of a robinia tree with white flowers

 

Don Burke, of Burke’s Backyard, lists the global invader Robinia as one of the trees gardeners will regret they planted!

Control Options-

Robinia suckers can pop up vigorously after soil disturbance with sharp thorns that can make removal even harder.
The Ask Sabrina section of The Weekend West advised that a concoction of 200ml of blackberry and tree killer mixed with one teaspoon of kerosene painted on to the cut sucker immediately, is very effective. Hard-to-kill plants such as oleander and tree of heaven are also susceptible.

Website Herbiguide give this control advice “Cut down the tree and paint the stump with neat glyphosate to reduce regrowth and suckering. Spray regrowth and suckers when they are about 500 mm tall with glyphosate. It re grows vigorously from cut roots and stumps and these sprouts need to be removed continually to exhaust the root system. Access, Grazon and metsulfuron are worth a trial.”

The Meat and Livestock Association of Australia rates Robinia as moderately  palatable for goats in their handbook titled Weed control using goats- a guide to using goats for weed control in pastures. Giving a chemical free option for weed control.

Robinia suckers popping up in a suburban lawn

Heath Benefits?

According to some the black locust has some health benefits and parts of the tree can be used for different therapeutic uses. Infusions  can help burning in the stomach, and with fatigue and nervousness. The flowers can apparently help with wounds and burns- this could be helpful after attempting the removal of thorny suckers.

Reporting unfamiliar weeds

You can report biosecurity concerns or unfamiliar weeds using MyWeedWatcher or alternatively, contact the Pest and Disease Information Service on 1800 084 881 or email info@agric.wa.gov.au.

A picture of the Horsetails Weeds

Exotic ornamental killer – Weed of the Month

Horsetails (Equisetum sp) is an ornamental plant that is sold in nurseries around the state. On the alert list for non-native weeds that are a risk to the environment and biodiversity, this plant is also highly toxic to livestock and is this Months MyWeedWatcher App- Weed of the Month.

A picture of the Horsetails Weeds

 

MyWeedWatcher update: March 2017 | Department of Agriculture and Food

Ancient survivors

Horsetails (Equisetum species) is sold as an ornamental, and they are also of interest to people who take the risk of making their own herbal remedies. Sometimes they are used in permaculture or as pond plants.

The erect, jointed stems are of two kinds, vegetative and fertile. Vegetative stems are green and ribbed. They can be a single stem or have whorls of slender leaf-like branches. Fertile stems can be green, white or pale brown, topped by fruiting cones. On both stems the true leaves are reduced to a papery ring around each joint. Once established, the main means of spread is by rhizomes rather than spores.

In a backyard, the worst horsetails can do is smother the area, but if they escape into farmland the consequences are dire. They are toxic to livestock, and in high densities they can reduce crop yield because they produce substances that inhibit the growth of other plants.

In the past, infestations of a horsetail called scouring rush (E. hyemale) have been found in the Perth metropolitan area at nurseries in Bedfordale and the Wanneroo area, and a home garden in Morley. Like all horsetails, this one has a high silica content, and the common name arose from the old practice of using the stems to scrub pots and pans. Several other species, including common horsetail (E. arvense) have been found in the eastern states.

Please report any horsetails seen in the wild, in gardens or at weekend markets. If you have horsetail plants, do not attempt to dispose of them yourself. Please call us for advice as horsetail plants generate readily from fragments. Always take care when ordering plants or seeds via the internet, and never dump any garden rubbish in the bush

A picture of the Horsetails Weeds

 

 Natural Heritage Trust’s Key points on Horsetails

• Prevention and early intervention are the most cost-effective forms of weed control. Horsetails are so invasive and difficult to control that it is very important to prevent them becoming established.

• Horsetails can be spread over long distances by movement of soil containing rhizomes.

• If not controlled, horsetails could become persistent weeds of cultivated land, pastures and roadsides in temperate regions, especially on damp ground.

• If you see a plant that may be a horsetail species, contact your local council or state or territory weed management agency. Do not attempt control on your own. 

Reporting unfamiliar weeds

You can report biosecurity concerns or unfamiliar weeds using MyWeedWatcher or alternatively, contact the Pest and Disease Information Service on 1800 084 881 or email info@agric.wa.gov.au.

 

The difference between branched (many stemmed ) and common (one main stem) broomrape weed.

Keep your eye out for branched broomrape, in WA.

Due to this year’s interesting weather patterns many people have reported a spike in the amount of broomrape in paddocks and nature reserves. What you may not know is that there are different types of this weed with vastly different consequences for agricultural productivity and export markets.

Branched broomrape is currently targeted under DAFWA’s weed surveillance project due to its potential to adversely impact the agricultural industry. The branched version could easily be confused with common broomrape but to date, it has only been found in South Australia in the Murray Bridge area.

Common broomrape-

Common Broomrape is a brown sticky cylindrical plant that parasitises crops and broad-leaf weeds.

Common broomrape (Orobanche minor) a plant lacking in chlorophyll that relies on other plants for nutrients.

Common broomrape is a parasitic plant which has no chlorophyll and relies on its host for nutrients. The lack of chlorophyll is why the plant is brown. It has a translucent pinky brown stem which is sticky to touch. It is common among capeweed and other broad leaf weeds on roadsides and in agricultural areas. If you have the common variety, dig out the plant making sure you get the bulb-like base of the plant before it can set seed. Bag the plants and dispose in the rubbish bin. Quick disposal after pulling is advised as those left heaped on the ground can still go to seed.

Branched broomrape-

The difference between branched (many stemmed) broomrape and common (one main stem) broomrape.

The difference between branched and common broomrape.

The stem of branched broomrape is erect, thin and richly branched. These branches terminate in flowering spikes. Brown or straw-coloured, it grows 10-30cm high.

Impacts of branched broomrape-

Branched broomrape can be parasitic to a wide range of crops and pastures from several plant families, including canola, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, pulse crops, pasture legumes, cucurbits, hemp, lettuce, sunflower, linseed, beans, capsicums, eggplant, potatoes, tomatoes and onions. Annoyingly this weed will be parasitic to a range of weeds, enabling it to reproduce even when crops are not present.

The weed’s presence could result in partial or total crop losses and the possible loss of potential to produce some crops in heavily affected areas. Branched broomrape can also cause the loss of export markets interstate and overseas, and increases in management and control costs.

Prevention of branched broomrape-

Branched broomrape a many stemmed parasitic brown weed.

Branched broomrape causes huge impacts in agricultural areas.

  • Practice good biosecurity and avoid bringing any contaminated seed, machinery or livestock onto your property.
  • Be vigilant and learn to identify the weeds on and around your property. Report unfamiliar weeds using the MyWeedWatcher on-line reporting tool or the app (see agric.wa.gov.au/myweedwatcher) or contact the Pest and Disease Information Service on freecall 1800 084 881 or info@agric.wa.gov.au.

For more information about branched broomrape identification, search our website: agric.wa.gov.au.  If you think you have branched broomrape or find any other parasitic plant attacking crop or pasture species, please do not attempt to control it, report it as soon as possible.

 

A white flowered bulb garden plant that is toxic to stock.

Bulbs – bloomin’ dodgy in our bushland.

Recently a report has come through of a C1 weed category bulb identified in native bushland in the Peel region. The only other confirmed population of this bulb species is in Victoria. All C1 declared pest are actively excluded from WA and is the highest control level attributed to declared pests. C1 prohibited organisms may only be imported and kept subject to permits. Permit conditions applicable to some species may only be appropriate or available to research organisations or similarly secure institutions.

Declared bulb species can be purchased over the internet on international sites. However, the importing of plant material into Australia is highly regulated due to the biosecurity risks. Australia’s Biosecurity Import Conditions system (BICON)  has all the information you need to know about any plant material you may want to purchase over the internet, including whether or not the plant is declared and/or not permitted.

The recent finding of the high risk bulb in the Peel region has highlighted the need for gardeners to become informed on the pest potential their garden bulb species may have, especially since pest plants escaping from private gardens is the most common way of becoming established in bushland.

Bulbs and what they mean for the bush-

Bulbs are plants that are generally spring flowering and reproduce and spread from corms and bulbs. In bushland they can quickly become a problem as the corms and bulbs are protected in the soil from extreme weather conditions and the plants are also drought tolerant. The bulbs can even be protected from fires and herbicide use allowing the plant to continue to spread.

Black Flag an interesting garden plant with a peculiar smell and black flowers. Invasive in bushland.

Black flag (Ferraria crispa) is a popular bulb purchased due to its unusual succulent looking bracts and leaves, even with an unpleasant odour from its black flowers. Black flag has a high reproductive capacity and will seed prolifically, producing stacked corms that make it very hard to treat with chemicals.

A white flowered bulb garden plant that is toxic to stock. Invasive in bushand.

Chincherinchee (Ornithogalum thyrsoides) is extremely invasive and highly toxic to livestock. This bulb should be carefully considered before planting if the surrounding landscape includes farmland, lifestyle blocks, national parks or urban reserves.

How do they get into bushland?-

The most common way ornamental gardening species find their way into bushland is through inappropriate management and disposal. The illegal dumping of garden waste in bushland areas creates a big problem in the spread of declared and invasive weeds.

Solirisation can be achieved by placing a plastic sheet on the ground and weighing it down with bricks.

Solarisation can be achieved with a large plastic sheet and weights.

When working on bulb species in the garden bag up any plant material, soil and/or the corms or bulbs. Leave the bag out in the sun for a couple of weeks before disposing into the general rubbish, you can also solarise larger areas of soil using plastic sheeting. Be aware that composting alone will not kill the corms or bulbs and gardeners should always be aware of the dispersal of plants and seeds from their own garden into the wider area. If you live close to natural bushland areas or alongside livestock then think hard about what you introduce and cultivate in your private garden.

 

 

Please do not dump garden waste into our native bush and make sure you bag up loose corms or bulbs when disposing of garden waste. Declared pest management cost the entire community so do your part.

What shall I do if I see one?-

A list of the common bulb species found in our bushland can be found on the Department of Agriculture and Food website. If you see a bulb species out in bushland then use the MyWeedWatcher App to report it. You can also contact the Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group for control information on declared pests.