Homemade Eco-Friendly Pest and Disease control

Following on from the last post, I thought I’d add a small post about some of the home-made remedies for Pests and Diseases that I use.

Obviously, the best methods for Pest and Disease control is prevention: good garden hygiene, clean tools, appropriate plant selection, companion planting, crop rotation and good soil (happy, healthy plants can usually fend off most attacks), but even if you are doing all of these things, your garden can and will come under attack due to factors outside your control.

Below are some of the remedies that have worked for me using ingredients found in the kitchen:


FUNGICIDES

  • Bicarbonate of Soda.

bicarbThis is used to inhibit the spread and development of fungal spores on leaves. I use  it for roses and other plants which get black-spot, rust and powdery mildew. Mix 1 litre (1 qt/32 oz.) of water with ¼ teaspoon vegetable oil and a ¼ teaspoon of dishwashing liquid with 2 teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda. Apply as a foliar spray.

  • Milk.

MilkI posted about full-fat Milk as a fertilizer and soil conditioner, but it also has great anti-fungicidal properties as well, controlling mildew and fungal attacks on food crops such as cucumbers and grape vines as well as other fungal diseases on ornamentals and especially lawns.

It must be diluted 1:10 with water before use, and it should not be over-used (weekly is more than enough during humid weather) as too much milk can cause sooty-mould development and wilted growth in plants, but it does work against funguses.


INSECTICIDES

  • White Oil.

whiteoilMany people know how to do this, but I’ll add it here as it is probably one of the most often-used of the D.I.Y. remedies.

I use 500ml (2 cups) of Vegetable oil to 125ml (½ cup) of dishwashing liquid. Combine in a sprayer and shake it well until it turns white and milky.

Dilute this mix with 1 litre (1 qt/32 oz.) of water for use this as a foliar spray on any sap-sucking insects like scale, aphids and mealy bugs.

White oil suffocates these pests – it will also control caterpillars and other insects intent on chewing foliage.

Apply to plants ONLY in cool weather and while plants are in the shade (before dawn if need-be). If the day is going to be hotter than 30°C/86°F, avoid application as it gets into the pores of plants and it the oil also fries the leaves. Do not spray on plants with hairy leaves or on conifers.

  • Garlic.

garlicI use 4-6 Cloves of crushed garlic per litre (1 qt/32 oz.) of warm water, 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and ¼ teaspoon of dishwashing liquid. I let it sit overnight and then strain out the garlic pieces to use as a foliar spray. This will kill insects if it hits them directly, but it is more about deterring them from landing on plants you don’t want chewed. It needs regular re-application and the fact of regular re-applying can also give it anti-fungal properties.

  • Coffee.

coffeeIf you have a coffee machine, keep the used grounds in a bucket and then fill with equal parts water to make an espresso consistency. Strain and dilute 1:10 and use as a foliar spray. Coffee kills insects (including slugs and snails).

Do not apply to plants that dislike acidity (such as peonies, acanthus, etc), and do not spray when a plant is in flower, as insecticides are non-specific.

  • Nicotine.

nicotineMy grandfather used this (as he smoked). Unless you are a heavy, heavy smoker, use gloves and a mask when preparing this as contact with nicotine can make people quite ill. Therefore, keep it out of reach of children. It only works on soft bodied insects but is very potent.

Take 100 grams / 3½ oz. of tobacco and soak in 1 litre (1 qt/32 oz.) for 1 week. Mix in about 10-25ml (2-5 teaspoons) of dishwashing liquid and stir well. If you are treating a plant with tough, waxy leaves, then use the higher concentration of dishwashing liquid. Either way, you use this as a foliar spray, and do not spray when the plant is in flower (or remove all flowers prior to spraying), as insecticides are non-specific. Like all of these remedies, nicotine spray is non-residual, but still I wouldn’t use it on leafy food-crops like lettuces.


That’s about the limit of my eco-friendly knowledge for fertilizers and pests and disease. Of course, there are always more remedies out there, so feel free to add your own!

Happy Gardening 🙂

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22 thoughts on “Homemade Eco-Friendly Pest and Disease control

  1. Interesting Matt, I haven’t heard of the Nicotine and Bicarb solutions. I agree that the health of your soil, plants, right place ect is the best pest and disease control. And encouraging wildlife – Thrushes for snails, frogs and toads for slugs, birds for caterpillars, ladybirds for aphids ect..encouraging a healthy system throughout your garden can bring about the best balance. Plus its so lovely to watch wildlife rather than spray dangerous chemicals.

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    • I couldn’t agree more. Even though I’ve not listed it here, when I have aphids on the roses, my usual reaction is to just blast a spray of water to knock them off: all of the little lizards that live in the dry-stone walls I’ve made then eat them once they’re on the ground. It’s almost like a ritual 🙂

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    • Even the strong sun that we both get at our latitudes around the summer solstice can cause leaves to be reduced to a crisp – I basically only use white oil early in the spring or on cloudy days

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  2. More! Excellent, and I haven’t even digested the first page ;). Cheers for the share and the effort that it took to put this together Matt. We all appreciate your sterling efforts and I, for one, will be using as many of these remedies as I can to get our soil up to scratch 🙂

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  3. Matt your white oil recipe is mighty strong compared to mine; are you sure you do not dilute it with water first, before spraying? I use 500ml of water to 5ml of oil and a drop of dishwashing liquid.

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    • Ahh well spotted! You’re right, this spray wouldn’t get through the nozzle!!!! I actually forgot to add the dilution rate entirely – I use this in a 1.5L sprayer, so I’ve edited the post. Thankyou 🙂

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  4. I don’t suppose I’ll be buying any tobacco for garden use, but I know it was a well-recognized insecticide among oldtimers when we lived in Missouri (traditionally a tobacco-growing region). In fact, when we bought an old bureau from an estate sale, the drawers were lined with dried tobacco leaves… There aren’t any issues using bicarbonate of soda during warm weather, are there?

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    • I won’t be rushing out to buy it either – it isn’t necessarily a cost-saving measure, but when you need the ‘big guns’. I don’t think bi-carb of soda will cause damage in the heat – I used to use it in the sydney without any problem and summers can be pretty muggy there

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