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Organics Auckland
Field Trip 26 May 2001
Viv and Nancy Milne have 20 acres of orchard in the middle of dairy country on Port Waikato Road near Tuakau, New Zealand.
We walked around the sheltered areas that were tidy and well cared for. We saw tangelos varieties of pears, apples and Cheramoyas.
Between the rows of fruit trees were planted herbs in the sward - comfrey and nasturtium between the tangelos; the comfrey was useful for bringing up nutrients and for dying back to a rich mulch in the Winter.
In between the pears and apples was planted rosemary and lavender and Jerusalem artichokes to give a variety of pollinators over the Summer with plantain to help keep the leaf roller caterpillar numbers down. Viv  said that he had no pests or diseases in his tangelos; neither scale nor the native borer because the ladybird population would deal to the scale and he prevented the borer gaining access to the trees by pruning off the spent twigs after fruiting.For his apple and pears he used pheramone twist ties to confuse the codlin moth male moths so that they didn’t mate with the female moths- this stopped the life-cycle and means that there are no caterpillars in the apples. Viv was working on a spray to discourage bronze beetle – he had collected the beetles with a butterfly net and is in the process of having the beetle made into a biodynamic pepper spray. Viv does a dormant spray of Lime sulphur and uses Kumulus sulphur after fruit-set to prevent black spot and powdery mildew in apples. He also does foliar spraying of seaweed to discourage fungus.

He uses a fish foliar spray for feeding the trees nutrients. All the trees were mulched with compost, which was made up in the main, of grass clippings from mowing between the tree rows and tree clippings from trimming the shelter belt trees which were largely Pinus Radiata all picked up with a silerator. We saw the long compost heaps that he had just turned. Viv said that because of the difficulty of getting  certified organic chook manure his present heap had no nitrogen input apart from horse manure. He used Basalt sands rock dust  and lime and Dolomite in the heaps too.

We looked at his worm farm. From this he collects worm castes and the liquid that rains off and strains these and mixes these into his foliar sprays.

The two Cheramoya orchards were his pride and joy because they had needed such care to get the present trees to adult size, past the frost–tender youthful stage. Even getting a successful pollination was a feat in itself - as away from its' natural habitat in South America, Cheramoyas do not have their natural pollinator and so need pollinating by hand which you have to do thoroughly to get well-shaped fruit.
In a higher area we looked at tamarillos and bananas and Chinese quince.

A couple more points of interest
There was a discussion about breeding apple trees that would be more disease resistant and Viv mentioned Primas and Liberty and Priscilla that were coming in from USA. Viv had grafted Jack Hum crab apples onto his Braeburn apples to help with fruit-set.

He was doing trials in macadamias, figs, guava, passion fruit, avocado, plums, walnut  and some Tree Crop Ass. Trials such as :
Assimoyas tribola [N. AM. Pawpaw] and Paulownra and 3 varieties of Eucalyptis robinias.

Viv is very handy with his grafting and there was a suggestion that we do a grafting workshop for those who are interested.

Email Viv :
Auckland small growers who are interested in getting their Organic status certificate can contact Brendan Hoare for details.
Email Brendan :