at heartgarden practice a no-harm policy as well as
organic gardening, so the occasional pest we do find is re-homed
in other plants away from the nursery. We find the natural
ecosystem tends to keep everything in balance without us having
to resort to killing any living creature, even with organic
methods! But we do understand the value of organic sprays for
others and have provided this information for you:
Why it's important to find organic solutions
Often we react to seeing weeds or pests by immediately applying
chemicals, or even apply chemicals as prevention.
Exposure to pesticides has been linked to
a long list of diseases and health problems: Parkinsonís,
infertility, cancer, birth defects, encephalitis, and lymphoma,
just to name a few. Another problem is that the law does not
require companies to test lawn pesticides with the same
standards as pesticides used on commercially-grown food. Many of
these contact hidden "inert ingredients" that have never been
tested for possible harm.
In addition to the harm they can do to us humans, pesticides
contaminate the air, water, soil, plants, and animals around us.
For example, many studies have proven that pesticides harm
honeybees, butterflies, ladybugs (which eat lots of other
pests), and fish, and that lawn chemicals seep into the water
Besides that, they can be expensive!
Learning to combat pests without chemicals is a great way to
help your health and that of your neighbours and the
actually a normal part of every garden. They come and go
with the seasons without really causing too much drama. In
healthy gardens, they are kept in check by birds, frogs and
lizards as well as beneficial predatory and parasitic insects.
But keeping plants in good shape is crucial, because weak, sick
and stressed plants are more prone to attack. Cultural practices
like crop rotation and companion planting further reduce the
risk of attack.
barriers can be used to protect vulnerable plants such as
seedlings. As a last resort make organic sprays to cure
particular outbreaks. Look on olive trees, citrus or
passionfruit vines and you'll probably find black scale. These
sucking insects gather on leaves and stems and can quickly build
up to the point where they stunt plant growth.
Scales shoot a sweet substance called honeydew. Ants
literally farm the scale to feed on the honeydew. They'll pick
them up and they'll move them all over the tree. Honeydew also
leads to sooty mould, a black dusty fungus that grows
over the leaves and stems. Controlling the scale will also get
rid of the sooty mould.
If you only have a small amount of scale, scrape it off with a
fingernail or toothbrush. Larger infestations can be controlled
by spraying with an oil to suffocate them.
Make the oil spray by blending two cups of vegetable oil with
one cup of pure liquid soap, and mix it until it turns white.
Dilute one tablespoon of the emulsion to one litre of water and
spray all affected areas thoroughly. Do this during mild
weather, because if it's hot it may burn the plantís leaves.
Mealy bug is another common sucking insect that's around at
the moment. Mealy bugs like sheltered conditions and are
commonly found on plants under patios, in glass and shade houses
as well as indoor plants. Being sap suckers, they cause the
leaves to wilt and distort. They also produce honeydew, which
leads to sooty mould fungus, also farmed by ants. The big ones
can just be squashed with your fingers, but dab the little ones
with methylated spirits. This dissolves the waxy coating, which
causes them to dehydrate and die. Or spray with garlic spray.
Citrus leaf miner is a common pest during summer and
autumn affecting all citrus. The larvae tunnels in the leaf,
forming a squiggly silvery window pattern. When it's fully
grown, it curls the edges of the leaf together and pupates to
emerge as a small moth about five millimetres in length. The
moth is only active at night, so it's rarely seen and its
lifecycle may take as little as three weeks. The leaves often
become severely distorted, which can stunt growth and reduce
yield, but rarely kill a tree. Damage is normally on new sappy
growth and can be controlled by cutting off and destroying the
damaged parts. Citrus leaf miner like warm weather, so fertilise
citrus at the end of autumn and in early winter so the new
growth won't be attacked. During warm weather, you can also
protect new growth by spraying with an oil spray, similar to
that for scale.
repels aphids, caterpillars, grasshoppers. Blend together Ĺ
cup chillies with 2 cups of water. Add a dash or dishwashing
liquid or vegetable oil, strain and then spray
repels aphids, caterpillars, grasshoppers, mealy bugs, mites,
and even prevents the spread of certain diseases! Plant edible
garlic between your plants to repel aphids and other insects.
Soak 125g of minced garlic in 40ml of mineral oil or alcohol.
Leave to soak for two days to extract the garlic oil. Then add
500ml of water and 10g of grated pure soap and mix well. Strain
and store in plastic or glass. To use, dilute one part garlic
mix to 50 of water. Repeat spraying after rain.
Some natural sprays can be harmful. For example, chilli and garlic
spray can be painful if they get in your
eyes. Always label containers, even if they're harmless, and
keep out of reach of children. Remember, even natural sprays
should only be used as a last resort, because they can also harm
beneficial insects, some of which help keep pest insects under
with thanks to ABC's