The latest dirt

Read below to find out about:

  • Trans Pacific Partnership
  • Farmers' Markets
  • Moths and old lace

The latest dirt is written by Sadie Chrestman, Sprout Advocacy and Awareness subcommittee member. 

Trans Pacific Partnership

The text for the Trans Pacific Partnership has finally been released to the public. Over the next few weeks we will investigate what the implications are for Tasmanian agriculture and our agricultural economy. Stay tuned!

Farmers’ Markets

The hungry patch seemed shorter than usual this year. Perhaps because of the proliferation of fantastic farmers’ markets across the state. Two brand new markets kicked off the season in southern Tassie: Kingston Produce Market and the Huon Farmers’ Market. Both give us yet more reason to rejoice and eat freshly this summer.

Moths and old lace

Threadbare radish leaves. Skeletal cauli. Late spring and early summer is the season for the diamondback moth (Plutella Xylostella) to colonise our brassica patches. It’s the larvae that are the culprits. Female moths lay hundreds of eggs and the resulting caterpillars chomp through brassica leaves. I guess we could put up with raggedy leaves. Except there is more hole than leaf and the resulting lack of photosynthesis means scrawny as well as raggedy plants. Perhaps we could just stop planting brassicas for a few months. Not an easy decision for a commercial grower. Bt spray (Dipel) works as long as it doesn’t rain, although there is mounting evidence that the moth is building resistance to Bt. Pyrethrum spray is no longer okay under organic certification. It’s less toxic than most insecticides, however it kills everything – good bugs and bad and has a one day withholding period. My grandmother covered her brassica seedlings with old lace curtains (to stop the moths laying their eggs on the leaves).

The modern equivalent is Insulnet, an expensive durable plastic lace curtain which protects against frost and stops the moths getting through to lay their eggs on our precious green leaves. Some gardeners “float” the netting on top of their plants while others build hoops or drape it over stakes. The upside is that they are made from durable plastic. The downside is the cost and that they’re made from durable plastic. Would love to hear any other (better) options.