Organic pest control

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Organic pest control
26th March, 2019

ABC Organic Gardener Magazine’s Horticultural Editor, Penny Woodward, shares her tips for creating a healthy ecosystem and natural homemade spray recipes for common pest problems.

Creating a healthy ecosystem helps with natural pest control.

The ultimate aim for your garden is to create a healthy ecosystem in which your plants, pests and predators live in balance. In such an ecosystem, a pest problem can sometimes be solved by a predator, without the gardener doing anything. To help create a balanced ecosystem follow these steps.

Do

  • Plant strongly scented plants to confuse and repel pests.
  • Plant flowers and herbs that will attract, and be food sources for, beneficial insects, birds and small mammals.
  • Provide ponds for frogs, reptiles and insects, such as dragonflies, that also feed

Don’t

  • Use broad-spectrum insecticides.
  • Kill all your spiders and ants, as these are important general predators in the garden.

Home-made sprays

What’s bean eating these lovelies?

If a pest gets out of hand you may need to act. The following simple homemade recipes are effective organic pest control sprays.

Allocasuarina

Boil 100g of casuarina needles with 1 litre of water in a covered pan for about 20 minutes. Cool and strain. Use within a few days for fungal diseases and bacterial infections.

Coffee

Save your coffee grounds and liquid dregs and, after you have accumulated at least half a litre, filter it for use as a spray. Completely cover the grounds with water and leave in a sunny spot for a few days, then filter through paper towel and use within a week on aphids, scale, mealy bug, snails and slugs.

Garlic

Roughly chop 200g of garlic – don’t bother to peel it. Add 6 tablespoons of vegetable oil, cover and soak for 24 hours. Dissolve 20g of pure soap in 1 litre of water, then add this to the garlic and mix well. Filter through fine gauze, store in a container in a cool, dark place. This spray will keep for several months. Use at a dilution rate of 1-part concentrate to 10 parts water against a wide range of sucking and chewing pests.

Milk

Combine 1-part milk with 9 parts water and use immediately against fungal diseases like powdery mildew.

Molasses

Molasses acts as a deterrent for caterpillars and other leaf-eating pests. Dissolve 2 tablespoons of molasses in a little hot water and then make this up to 1 litre by adding more hot water. Add 1 teaspoon of liquid soap. Spray over the leaves of any plant being attacked by caterpillars. Use within a week.

Pest oil

Combine 2 cups of vegetable oil to half a cup of dishwashing detergent. When ready to spray, shake well to emulsify then mix one teaspoon of concentrate to one litre of water. Store the concentrate in a glass jar in a cool place for up to a few months.

Soap

Add 1 teaspoon of soap flakes or ecologically friendly laundry or dishwashing detergent to 1 litre of water and mix well. Be careful not to use too much or too often – no more than once a week for a few weeks – or you may damage your plants and leave residue in the soil that will kill beneficial soil creatures. Use against aphids, beetles, bugs, mites, scale and whitefly.

Wormwood (Artemisia arborescens)

Pour 1 litre of boiling water over 3 firmly packed cupfuls of roughly chopped wormwood leaves. Cover and leave to stand until cold. Strain and dilute with 1 litre of water. Use within a few days to control aphids, bean fly, whitefly, caterpillars and stink and horned bugs.

©Penny Woodward pennywoodward.com.au

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