Spring is here and I love getting out into the garden, seeing all the new growth and colours. The warmer days bring lots of growth, but also many insects and pests. These can be a source of frustration, especially when I am trying to get my new plants to grow, while still maintaining older plants. There are many pesticides out there, but as you know many are not only kill pests, but can be very harmful to us. Also, some of these pesticides contain chemicals that get washed into the soil and taken up by plants, vegetables and fruit, which can’t be good for our health.
To avoid using such pesticides I often make up my own natural pesticides. Over the years I have got tips from gardening books and gardening sites, that often have great suggestions on what natural potions to create. So here I am going to share some of the simple, all natural pesticides I have learned to use:
1. Natural Soap Spray
This soap is easy to make and good to keep on hand. It will take care of (or should I say gets rid of) most common pests such as aphids, white flies, thrips, bugs, and mealy mites.
In a spray bottle, combine and mix well:
•1 1/2 tbsp of biodegradable liquid soap
•1 litre water
The soap in the spray kills insects by suffocating the skin.
Add chilli and garlic - acts as an insect repellent by helping to repel borers, beetles, and slugs. Garlic also deters larger pests such as rabbits. Just add five crushed cloves of garlic and one tablespoon chili powder. After soaking overnight, strain and pour into a spray bottle. Keeps for up to two weeks.
Add a few drops of orange or lemon essential oil – this prevents scale or mould stick to your plants.
2. Eco oil spray
Eco oil is great to use to prevent insect attacks on fruit trees. These can be commercially available, which is fine, but be aware that some eco oils contain petroleum oil or kerosene. So avoid these. It is very easy to make up your own eco oil spray.
In a bucket, combine and mix well:
1 cup vegetable oil
2 tbsp biodegradable liquid soap
4 litres water.
Mix the soap and oil first, then add the water. After mixing place in a spray bottle. Shake often during use, as well as mixing the bucket contents before placing in the spray bottle/spraying device.
3. Antifungal Spray
I’m sure I am not the only person who has found the dreaded mildew on their tomato and cucumber plants. And don’t forget our poor roses with sooty mould. The minute I see any signs of these I make this preparation which seems to hault it in its tracks.
In a spray bottle, combine and mix well until baking soda is dissolved:
•1 tablespoon of baking soda
•1/2 tbsp of oil
•2 litres of warm water
Before spraying, remove the most severely damaged leaves. Then spray your solution, repeating every few days until it disappears. This mixture is best made and used immediately.
4. Snail & Slug Bath
Every garden has snails, but sometimes there seems to be an explosion, especially when you are trying to grow vegetables. This is one of the oldest remedies, which really works.
Simply place a saucer or small dish of beer in your garden, especially near those plants that have been attacked. I find it is best to make a hole large enough to place the dish in and having the top of the dish level with the soil. Snails and slugs are attracted to the yeast in beer, will take a dip and drowns in a drunken bliss. Best to place the beer out in the cool of the evening, as snails and slugs are at their worst at night, but also to keep it from evaporating.
Some extra comments:
When applying the sprays ensure the leaves are sprayed both on the top and underneath side.
It is best to spray your plants early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid the hot sun and the risk of burning the leaves of your plant.
If it is likely to rain, delay spraying until later or until next day.
Although these spray are non-toxic and less harmful than commercial pesticides, please remember not only can they kill nasty insects and pests, but also the beneficial bugs. Use the sprays sparingly, by only treating plants that are under attack.
Also, excessive use of these sprays can affect the growth of your plants. A weekly treatment with these sprays should be enough. If you do need to use it more often, keep an eye on the health of your plant.
Always test your sprays on a few leaves before applying to all your plants. If there is no damage after 3 days you can proceed spraying the whole plant(s).
Although these sprays are non-toxic, please keep them out of reach from children as little kids have inquisitive natures and may decide to have a drink. You don’t want to be bringing your children to the nearest doctor or emergency centre because they are throwing up or have chilli burn in the eyes.
So it is time to head out into the garden, armed with your natural pesticides. Let us know how they work for you. If you have your own recipe that works, share it with us. I'm sure everyone would like to have more natural solutions to get of the little critters.
Have earthly passionate time in the garden,
Attracta & the earthly passion team.