Chemical Alternatives

Thanks to the World Wide Web , today s gardener has access to far more information than gardeners of 50 years ago. I believe today s gardener is also more aware, when it comes to garden chemicals. We have choices. And if you choose to try some alternatives when it comes to tackling pest and disease problems, here are some simple solutions. Keep in mind that these solutions probably won t work as fast as their chemical equivalent and may need several applications rather than one dose. I t also does not imply that these recipes are safe just because they are home made. Treat them with respect. SOAP SPRAYS are frequently used for soft bodied insects like aphids. They should only be applied with low pressure because under high pressure, wi th an atomiser, they can be a health hazard. Soap sprays can also damage plants and soil when used in excess. Regular use on plants can break down the protective waxy coating on plant leaves, a bit like breaking down the skin on our bodies or the paintwor k on cars not a good practice. Do a test spray first. Try one or two leaves and leave it for a few days to observe the results before spraying the whole plant. Choose a soap that is made from caustic potash and not caustic soda or use a Pure soap. Grate about 60 grams of the soap (with a cheese or vegetable grater), into a nine litre bucket of water, then swish the water until it is frothy. Pour into a watering can and spray on to affected plants. SOAP and BAKING SODA (BiCarb Soda) can be used as an anti-fungal spray. Try using it against downy mildew, black spot and fungal rusts. Again, be mindful of human and plant protection. Do a spot test (on the plant, not yourself) and cover up, especially the eyes, when using the mixture. Also, do not use on a ho t day. Dissolve about 150 grams of baking soda in the 9 litre bucket of water, and then add the soap (60 grams). Use as described above. COOKING OIL is often used to make a white oil solution to treat scale insects. Never use this spray if the temperature rises above 24°C (75°F) and stays there for three or four days after spraying. For some gardeners, that will mean NO spraying during the summer months. Add one cup of water and two cups of cooking oil to a blender and mix until you get a milky white solution. This is the concentrate , which is then diluted with more water at the rate of 20 to 70 ml of concentrate per litre of water. This mixture separates out quite quickly so must be used strait away. Do not make any more than you need for an application .

MILK SPRAYS have been used as a chemical alternative for black spot on roses, for like forever. Does it work? That depends on who you ask. The milk and water spray has a number of uses, but the main use is, as a fungicide. It is also apparently a good spray for treating mildew on cucurbits. Mix one part real full cream milk with nine parts water. Some people suggest a ratio of 50/50, equal parts milk and water. Experiment a little and see what works for you. Spray with a watering can or atomised sprayer but remember to always wash the container thoroughly afterward. Off milk just smells well off. MILK and FLOUR can be mixed together to make a spray against red spider mite, two spotted mite and azalea lace bug. Mix four cups of flour with a quarter cup of milk, pour in to a baking dish, oh, sorry wrong recipe.(My attempt at humour). Mix four cups of flour with a quarter cup of milk then a dd mixture to 20 litres of water, stirring constantly until well mixed. Spray on to all surfaces of the plant and repeat every two days until symptoms subside (critters disappear). Wash equipment well. SUGAR, most people s addiction, is used as a soil dren ch to control nematodes. Dissolve two kilograms of sugar (I don t think the nematodes mind which sort) in ten litres of water. (a great syrup for preserving fruit) and pour over the soil where there is suspected nematode activity. Although this drench works to destroy nematodes, unfortunately it will have the same effect on worms and other soft bodied soil life. Use at your discretion. SALT is a great weed killer but don t go there. It is very bad for the soil. Use boiling water instead. If you have any other gems that can be used in the garden instead of chemicals, let me know.