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by Julie Spears •

caterpillars crops hot summer

Summer continues...

As summer continues we are grateful for the Hawkesbury River providing our crops with water during the hot weather. Delicate leafy crops such as lettuce need to be watered daily during the summer as the small amounts of rain we have been having evaporate so quickly in the hot weather. We are thinking of our farmer friends in other parts of the country whose dams are drying up and hoping for rain. Even during these extreme temperatures, it is great to be outside and part of nature. By the height of summer the predatory insect numbers have increased enough to out-compete a lot of the pest species, particularly caterpillars. Slugs and snails are hibernating. Heat-loving plants like tomatoes, basil, capsicums and eggplants are thriving and the days are long and productive. I have been making pesto with the delicious and abundant basil and a recipe is included this week for you to try at home. If you would like to plant basil in your garden, harvest it regularly to keep the bush compact and producing lots of fresh new growth. Once it flowers it will die, although it is great food for bees at this stage so leave some in the garden for them to devour before you pull it all out. We try to keep something flowering all the time at the farm to encourage bees for pollination and also beneficial insects such as predatory wasps. These wasps devour their prey from the inside out, laying their eggs in the caterpillars. The larvae hatch and have an instant meal and despatch the caterpillars for us. All part of the circle of life. Enjoy summer while it is here and find a cool shady spot in the heat of the day if you can. Yours in veg, Alice