What natural treatments can be used in the garden?
Approximately 10 years ago, I converted all my cleaning products to chemical-free options and I am now endeavouring to replace all garden chemicals in the shed to natural products. It gives great satisfaction to see all my own labelled spray bottles and pottles in both the cleaning cupboard and garden shed. At first, I was dubious about the time it would take to make the products, but the fantastic bonus is that it takes very little time, otherwise I think I would have lost interest a long time ago. Below you will find some of the garden products I am starting to make on a regular basis.
This is a great general spray for white fly, mealy bugs and aphids. You can use it as a preventative, or to treat an infestation.
General Garden Spray Concentrate for Bugs
10 large cloves of garlic
5 hot chilli peppers, dried or fresh
1 cup cold water and 2 cups boiling water
1 tablespoon liquid soap or dishwashing liquid
10 drops of cinnamon leaf or eucalyptus essential oil
- In a blender, purée chillies, garlic & cold water.
- Transfer to a glass bowl or jug.
- Pour boiling water over the top and leave overnight (or minimum of 5 hours).
- Next day, strain the liquid through cheese cloth or a tea towel. The result required is a liquid that doesn't block your spray nozzle, hence the cloth strainer.
- Pour into a jar or plastic container that has a lid (plastic lid is best) that can be used to store your mix.
- Add soap and essential oils, shake to mix. It is now ready to use.
Quantity made; approx 3 litres
To use: Add 1 tablespoon of concentrate to 500ml of water in a spray bottle.
Spray in the evening as sun can cause spray to burn the foliage.
Spray stalks and under leaves.
Spray every 3 days.
Storage: In a dark cupboard for 4-5 months.
A few years ago, I bought some Diatomaceous Earth (DE) to use in the dog beds (gets rid of fleas and mites). I then discovered that it was good for using in the garden too. It is a powder made up of particles of silicon dioxide. Another description is that the particles are from fossil remains.
It is possible to use as a health tonic but in the garden it is great as an insect deterrent. The powder dehydrates the insects, fatally, and it is used commercially for insect control when storing grain and seed.
Sprinkle Diatomaceous Earth around seedlings to deter snails and slugs. It is also easy to sprinkle on bean and tomato plant foliage to control the beetles that tend to turn up later in the season and suck the life out of your plants. Anywhere you have aphids, sprinkle it around. Reapply after it's been raining or windy.
Baking soda is an amazing ingredient for cleaning and garden use as it has so many uses. Try these:
1. Wet your hands and sprinkle with baking soda, to clean your hands after being in the garden.
2. Kill weeds in pebble paths, between pavers or on driveways, by wetting the weed and sprinkling with baking soda.
3. Clean your garden pots by making into a paste with water. Rub on the pots and leave for 30 minutes, then scrub off.
4. Do the same for garden furniture but add a little soap to the paste.
5. Use as a fungal spray for powdery mildew (check google for quantities).
6. Sprinkle on your garden bench, spray with a little water and scrub with a brush. This helps to avoid transferring diseases when done on a regular basis.
7. Sprinkle in your rubbish bin when it gets smelly.
Cinnamon is a great natural treatment for fungus, especially on your seedlings. Varieties that take over two weeks to germinate can sometimes form a fungus on the top of the soil. Just sprinkle a little cinnamon and it should clear up.
Cinnamon can also be used as a deterrent for ants as they don't like to walk on it.
Have you ever been digging in your garden and suddenly find your arm or feet covered in ants? Yuck, it's a horrid feeling when you disturb one of their nests. To get rid of ant nests, liberally sprinkle sugar. I did not believe this was true and had always used boiling water, but it truly does work. The sugar actually kills them.
Here are two weed killer recipes to try. The effectiveness is dependent on how hardy the foliage is. Killing the weed at the roots may necessitate cutting the foliage off to just above the ground so that the weed killer can reach the roots quicker. Make and use these as needed as they will not store well. The cost is so much cheaper than the commercial weed killers and your soil is not compromised. It is also a better solution when you have pets or children.
Weed Killer #1
Mix together & spray;
2 litres vinegar
1/2 cup salt
Weed Killer #2
Mix together & spray;
1 kilo Soda Ash
120 ml dishwashing liquid
3 litres warm water
These sprays are best sprayed on a hot day so that the sun can help to dry off the weeds. Leave for several days and you will see the weeds brown off. If it rains, you should top up with a respray.
If you can't find Soda Ash, use the 'Washing Soda' crystals that all supermarkets stock in the fabric conditioner area. You can use boiling water to dissolve the crystals or pop them in the kitchen whizz to create a powder. The dishwashing liquid is to help the spray adhere to the weed foliage.
The above are just a few options for minimising the chemicals in your garden. Have fun exploring the vast amount of information on the internet.
If you are like me and have skin that tends to be quite sensitive to chemicals, you will enjoy not having to dress up like a bee-keeper in full overalls, gloves and mask when spraying. My garden shelf has lots of room as I no longer have so many different sprays or treatments for all the individual varieties.
Natural products are sometimes a little slower to kill off unwanted bugs or weeds due to the harsh chemicals not being present, so you may need to respray several times, especially after it has rained or there has been a heavy dew. To be honest, my focus is always on the chemical free result of food my family are ingesting so I don't mind regular spraying. I hope you are inspired too.
My source for many of the ingredients and some of the recipes is www.wendyls.co.nz