Having a garden is a real delight and can make a big difference to how people see your home as well as being a big bonus on your dinner plate or table centrepiece.
When you are selling your home a plotted piece of yard speaks volumes about the potential to a future owner as well as gives you a glowing report card for the care and resourcefulness of your property. A garden space that is well nurtured, full of life and sustainable reflects well on every part of your home.
One issue with gardens however is pests. Bugs can wipe out your crop, turn greens yellow or give the leaves of your tomato plants so many holes they resemble Swiss cheese. Organic growing is a big plus at the moment, and for good reason, fewer chemicals on your garden means less toxins on your plate, healthier and more nutritious plants and a lower impact on the environment. Plant chemicals are also a worry for pet owners, as snail pellets seems to be especially appetising to some dogs and cats.
Thankfully there is an alternative to chemical based pest control. Natural remedies are cheap, usually require ingredients you already have on hand and are beneficial in every way, from clean healthy foods to safe and happy pets.
Herbal tea, onion, rhubarb, garlic and cayenne are all perfect base ingredients for having a happy and healthy garden, and better still, in most cases you can easily grow these yourself so they are always on hand and fresh at a moment’s notice.
Get started with your outdoor area with these simple and effective pest control recipes.
Think herbal teas are just for the teacup? These herbal remedies will combat just about everything your garden can throw at you.
• To make a tea to spray on your plants all you need to do is place some of the required foliage (see below) in a pot, cover with cold water and bring to the boil.
• As soon as the water reaches boiling point turn off the heat and allow to stand for 10-15 minutes to fully steep.
• Stir occasionally.
• Remove the leaves and store the liquid.
This is the concentrate. To use on your plants mix 1 part tea with four parts water in a spray bottle.
Chamomile for: most fungi including damping-off.
Chive for: controlling apple scab and mildew on gooseberries and cucurbits.
Eucalyptus for: cockroaches, earwigs, slaters and ants.
Horsetail for: damping-off.
Hyssop for: for bacterial plant diseases.
Larkspur for: aphids and thrips.
Lavender for: flies, grasshoppers, cockroaches, aphids, thrips, soldier beetles and harlequin bugs.
Tansy for: flies and other insects (use as full concentrate).
Wormwood for: insect repellent.
This stinging nettle spray is a real treasure. It’s good for everything and a great way to utilise a common weed.
Best for: General pest and disease control. This solution is iron rich so it’s great to use as a nutrient fertiliser to promote plant growth and health.
• Chop stinging nettle plants and place in a bucket of water.
• Seal with a lid or seal with cling wrap and allow to stand for three weeks (until foliage has rotted down).
• Strain and retain the nettle liquid.
• Add to spray gun and use as is.
Crushing garlic cloves to make a spray is a great insect repellent and fungicide. A treatment will last up to ten days.
Best for: Treating pests and diseases on fruit frees, combating powdery mildew and curing blight on potatoes and tomatoes.
Bonus: Garlic plants are easy to grow and have decorative pom-pom like flowers on tall stems.
• Take 90g of crushed garlic cloves (or leaves).
• Add 10ml of safflower oil (or similar non-aromatic blend).
• Soak for two days.
• Make one litre of soap mix by adding 20 grams of soap solution to a litre of water.
• Blend soap and garlic oil mix.
• Leave mix to steep for one day then strain and retain liquid.
• Store in an airtight container.
This is your concentrate. To use on your plants blend 1 part with 100 parts water.
For this rhubarb mix you are using the leaf, not the red stalk. You will need to use the mix within 24 hours of making it.
Best for: All-purpose insecticide but is especially effective on aphids, making it a rose grower’s best friend.
Caution: It’s essential to wait at least two days after spraying before you consume any plants that have been spayed or come in contact with the spray.
• Use 1 kilo of leaves to 2 litres of water and boil for 30 minutes.
• Strain to remove the leaves and add the liquid to 9 litres of water.
This is a simple use of mustard powder. If you have your own pestle and mortar you can grind your own powder from mustard seeds.
Best for: Powdery mildew.
• Place mustard powder in a jar with holes punched in the lid.
• Shake powder over plants.
The easy to grow and beautiful chrysanthemum now has another amazing use. These make great border flowers to your garden for attractiveness and also pest control.
Best for: Insect repellent.
• Place 1 tablespoon of flower heads in a litre of hot water.
• Stand for 1 hour to fully steep.
• Strain and add a generous pinch of soap powder to the liquid.
• Add to a spray gun and use as is.
Now when you stop and smell the roses, you can feel good about doing your part for a clean and healthy environment as well as having beautiful blooms and tasty salads ready at your door.