Previously we spoke about how to go organic and still make it work. This week we will focus on how to get your plants growing healthily without the use of toxic pesticides, and next week we will focus on staying away from chemical fertilisers.
As an avid gardener and landscape designer, growing fresh vegetables, herbs and fruit is really rewarding. Inviting family and friends over for a bite and being able to supply fresh produce right from the garden really does make me happy. But then, there comes that day, when you think you have the most beautiful fruit and vegetables only to find out that something has eaten it all. The shock, dismay and frustration – you search all around but find nothing. Just the evidence of leaves or fruit having been eaten. Most people will go straight to a local nursery or garden shop to buy pesticides to get rid of the “infestation”. But not you, thanks to my organic recipes that will assist you on your organic adventure!
Lately people have said that they have vast amounts of ants on their properties. Due to the drought and water restrictions, you will start to see ants. You see, ants can’t build their tunnels in your garden if the ground is wet. Think how hard it is to build a sand castle when the sand is wet – it’s the same concept. So either you can water your garden a bit more frequently or try this recipe.
Sprinkle 125g (1/2 cup) of agricultural lime per square metre (1m x 1m) can be bought from your local nursery. For ants with a sweet tooth, mix icing sugar with borax powder on a 1:1 ratio. Ants feed on this and take it down into the colony, and the borax will eventually kill the colony.
Recipe #2: Soft-bodied insects (mites, aphids and mealy bugs)
Mix one tablespoon of canola oil and a few drops of ivory soap into a quart of water. Pour this mixture into a spray bottle and shake it well. Spray the plant from the top down and from the bottom up. The oil smothers the insects.
Mix two tablespoons of hot pepper sauce or cayenne pepper with a few drops of ivory soap into a quart of water. Let it stand overnight. Stir and pour into a spray bottle and apply as above.
Recipe #4: Slugs
If you have access to seaweed it is well worth the effort to gather some. It is not only an excellent growth stimulant but also does a good job of repelling slugs and snails. Seaweed is salty and slugs and snails avoid salt. Mulching seaweed and placing it around your tender plants will detour these pests.
Slugs and snails are also attracted to beer (who would have thought?) Fill a small, shallow and wide jar with beer and leave overnight. The slugs and snails are attracted to it and crawl in and drown. Another way of getting rid of the critters, if you don’t mind picking them up, is placing them next door or 1km down the road. Handpicking is a highly rated control measure – it all depends on how squeamish you are.
As a deterrent, soak a rag or cotton balls in oil of peppermint (found at most health stores) then place it in areas where there is rodent activity. Rodents are allergic to peppermint and will avoid it. This method will also keep rabbits away from your garden.
Recipe #6: Aphids, red spider mite, and scale
Dilute Sunlight liquid (1 teaspoon into 5 litres of water) and spray onto affected plants.
If you are against killing the insects and making these concoctions then I would suggest doing companion planting.
Caution: Sprays, which kill harmful insects, will also kill beneficial insects such as bees, lady bugs and butterflies. Use these homemade remedies selectively. Only spray the infected plants. Remember to rinse off your organic veggies really well – it’s usually not the organic insecticide that you have to worry about, but mostly the insects that are on or around your fresh produce.
So when should you apply these remedies? The best time is in the early morning or just before dark. If there is wind or a breeze hold off until it’s calm again. Re-apply after rain and always wear protective clothing.
At the end of the day, taking precautions is your best bet. I love nature and if something really needs a nibble I am usually not too worried.
I usually plant parsley, chives and onions around my tender leafy greens to keep the critters at bay.
Stay tuned for more organic winter gardening tips as we take you through building a sustainable and nutrient-rich garden of which you can literally enjoy the fruits.
If you have any gardening questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Who is Nicholas Spargo?
Nicholas Spargo, owner of Spargo Landscape Consultants, has been in the landscape trade for 12 years as well as being a lecturer at the Lifestyle Garden Design Centre for the past year. He was awarded a Gold for a design at the Lifestyle Garden Design Centre Design Show in 2008, is an Invasive Species Consultant and is affiliated with the South African Green Industries Council.
Landscaping and education are very close to his heart.