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:
- Bicarbonate of Soda.
This 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.
I 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.
- White Oil.
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.
I 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.
If 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.
My 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 🙂