Friday, 30 March 2012

Safe Options for Deterring Garden Bugs

Those who garden know the feeling of frustration after putting in the hard work to only find our lovely plants have been eaten by bugs. The following are some tried recipes that work well and are safe for pets and children. They are easy to make and use but must be applied promptly and diligently.

1. Snails and slugs are the most annoying so to combat these fellers you can try the beer trick but found it ineffective when used alone. You can put wrapped newspaper in and around your garden and remove daily as the snails, slugs and earwigs hide in there. Crushed egg shells which need to be put around the base of plants and pine needles as the snails dislike crawling over anything prickly. A combination of all will give you a better chance. Poisoning snails and slugs is poisoning the food chain and you may just kill a blue tongue lizard.

Patchouli essential oil is a strong smelling oil that can last up to 2 weeks around your patch. Add 4-8 drops of oil to a 9liter watering can and pour around the edge and in-between plants. Snails dislike the smell so they will head elsewhere. You can find this oil at any health food store and chemists.

One we have just come across but have not used myself is espresso coffee. If you are a coffee fan treating your plants with this can be hard as you will miss out on a coffee or two. Mix 1 part coffee to 3 parts water and spray twice a week and after heavy rain.

2.  All round insecticide- This is our secret weapon for most garden bugs.  Chop four large onions, two cloves of garlic, and four hot chillies. Mix them together in a jar and cover with oil. Let it sit in the sun for 1-2 weeks, strain and keep jar in a dark place. Put 1ml of oil in a 500ml spray bottle, add 3 drops of earth friendly dish liquid and fill with water. Spray directly on to affected plants or areas twice a week.  When the bugs bite they will be left with a burning yukky taste in there mouth and will look elsewhere. 

The all round insecticide keeps away aphids, lace bugs, bronze orange bugs, leaf hoppers and white fly, Cabbage Moth, Scale and mealy bug, Mites, Young Grubs or Caterpillars and Cabbage worm.

If you see ants all over your plants you have at least one of the bugs above.

Important- Do not spray when the sun is shining directly on the plants, as this will burn them. It is best done early in the morning before the sun shines directly on them, this gives it time to dry. Spraying in the evening is ok but not ideal as the damp can create fungus and mould.

While you are waiting for the oil to infuse you can use plain oil and dish liquid in the same amounts and spray plants. If you have no earth safe dish liquid plain castile soap grated will act the same. Add ¼ teaspoon of soap flakes in place of dish liquid. You can also make a tea infusion in place of the oil infusion to use quickly.

You will find that with new baby plants the bugs that attacks them the most are snails and slugs, you can spray plants with the soapy water and garlic tea, and or coffee, minus the oil . It is usually when the plant grows that other bugs come along to have a feed.

3. Nematodes. Looks like spider webs or white mould in the soil. They eat the roots of plants and dry them out. To combat these plant marigold in your patch, the roots of the marigold keep them away. Another option is to use calendula tea (which is marigold flowers). Add a normal tea cup full to a 9 litre watering can and water as usual. Use weekly to deter and every three days combat an infestation. You can find calendula tea at most health food stores.

4. White butterfly- Plant coriander in between cabbage, broccoli and any plant that the butterfly likes. The butterfly will get confused and will bite the herb which it dislikes and will fly off.  Rosemary tea and oil, using the above recipe do the same. You can place egg shells in between plants with the white side facing up as the white butterfly is very territorial and will think it is another butterfly so it will fly off. 

5. Fungus
To 500 ml spray bottle add-
125 ml skim or full cream milk
¼ tablespoon soap or 3 drops detergent
¼ teaspoon of bicarbonate soda
Fill the rest with water and spray affected area every three days to see if there is an improvement. Give this a week or two to see a change.  If not cutting the affected area off (safely)to prevent infestation may be the only option. After trying the above options and having no improvement a chemical will get rid of them just consult with a garden nursery. This is a perfect remedy for black spot on roses, clear the base of the rose making sure it can breath then treat with the above.

6. Cutworm. These bugs are another annoyance to new baby plants. If you go to check your plants in the morning and find that it looks like someone has come in and cut your plant stems at ground level it is these guys. To keep them out place a ring of plastic (use drink bottles that are cut to shape) or cardboard around new plants and slightly push into the ground. Cutworm cannot climb and are only found at ground level. Once the plant has grown remove the ring, cardboard will usually decompose as the plant grows. 

7. Plant strength- Giving your plants a regular feed keeps them strong and makes them less likely to be affected by bugs. A good natural food is seasol which is seaweed base food.  The smell is strong enough to keep most pests at bay. You can add seasol to the pesticide mix once every two weeks to strengthen young plants. Inspect you plants on a regular basis and remove bugs by hand to prevent infestations. With regular inspection you are more likely to keep the bugs at bay with prompt treatment. Keeping weeds and long grass out of your patch and pots also keeps the bugs away, usually weeds and long grass bring them in and they transfer to your favorite plants.

Keep pets out of your patches as their digging and urine will kill your plants. Place a fence around your patch and favorite plants. Vicks, camphor or eucalyptus keep pets away as the smell is so strong to them that it puts there scent off so they will stay away rather than have no sense of smell. This does not damage their sense of smell it just puts it off for a short time. Some people use chilli to keep pets out but this does affect their whole nasal cavity and can cause inflammation that can choke them. 

If after all this you find there are no bugs in the garden to help bring back good bugs that eat the naughty bugs dissolve a teaspoon of vegemite or any yeast spread and add to watering can.

If all else fails chamomile is natures nursemaid in a way I cannot explain but all plants bounce back when treated with chamomile. A tea infusion or essential oil will do. Putting these plants in your patch will assist any plants growing next to it.

Essential oil safety- Even though essential oils are natural they can be very potent and absorb into our body through our skin. Save plastic going to landfill by using a pair of gloves that you will keep, that are not fabric, when making recipes using essential oil. If by chance you forget or get some on your hands lather hands with moisturiser, oil or dish liquid to absorb the bulk of it then rinse and repeat if needed. All essential oils come with safety notes that you can go over. 

Storage- Do keep these away from children as you do not want them to get a mouth full of chilli or essential oil.Tea water infusions are best used up straight away as algae can grow, you can store these in the fridge but label well. Oil base recipes must be stored in a dark cool place to prevent them going rancid. Algae and rancid oil can make your plants sick just like with us.  

Hope these work well for you as they have for us. Have fun making your own and garden with the knowledge that you are working with nature instead of against it. 

Thank You For Reading

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