A Reflection On The Past

On helping a friend move his 93 year old aunt into care accommodation I gained the rare privilege of a small glimpse of her life. Auntie Tui had a great love for and very interest in native plants, birds and natural history.

Until recently Auntie Tui had facilitated field trips all over Victoria in pursuit of sharing and exploring her love of Victoria. On sorting the books and writings she discarded were old lectures, lists of birds and plants native to different habitats, a wonderful series of National Geographic Owl photos which I was delighted to donate to a local school.

But in sifting through further I came across a booklet put out by the Department of Agriculture, New Zealand and what was written on the back caught my eye. There was a heading:

What type of farming do you do? The Journal will help you do it better.’ It went on to say that the Journal of Agriculture gives you practical, easy to follow knowledge on how to make your type of farming produce more, pay better and keep your land “in good heart” The Journal is a qualified “instructor” right at your elbow every moment of the day. It does not contain obscure theories yet to be proven but down- to -earth methods that have been proved right in countless experiments in the Department’s Research Stations Read the Journal regularly; it will pay you handsomely. INTERESTING ARTICLES FOR THE WOMENFOLK EVERY MONTH.

How quaint but how wonderful it sounded. Curious I looked inside. The booklet was called Tree Tomato Culture and was written by W.A.Fletcher, Citriculturist, Auckland, last revised in 1952. On the front cover was a photo of the fruit being handpicked and a promise of recipes from Eva Topping, late Rural Sociologist. I now anticipated that the next 18 pages would be full of wholesome advice on growing tree tomatoes. And so it did right through from history, site selection, varieties, propagation, extracting the seed, nursery beds, establishing the plantation, general maintenance and pruning, diseases, pests, virus diseases, harvesting and packing right down to different size cases. This was followed by numerous recipes for the tree tomato of which I will try a few.

All this was fine except the advice given for the treatment for disease and pests. This was acknowledged as being provided by the Plant Diseases Division of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. Here are some of the recommendations:

Insect Pests Apply lead arsenate at 2 pounds per 100 gallons at intervals of 3 to 4 weeks. DDT may be used DDT at a quarter of a pounds to 100 gallons of water.
Green aphis apply nicotine sulphate one part to 800 parts of water plus soft soap 3 pounds per 100 gallons.
Green vegetable bug apply hexaethyl tetraphosphate 1 pint to 100 gallons of water.
This came with a warning.

  • Avoid contact of the concentrated material with skin and month.
  • Wash off any liquid spilt on the skin with soap and water.
  • After spraying operations clean all exposed parts of the body with soap and water.
  • Keep the liquid out of the reach of children.
  • Avoid eating drinking or smoking during spraying operations.
  • Leave the spraying areas if a headache or tightness of the chest develops.