Like most things in life, gardening has also done a full circle; this is especially evident with the change in the range of insecticides and pesticides available.
The vast range of chemicals that you could buy from a garden centers probably peaked somewhere in the 80’. They have now all but gone from the home market, many being replaced with a more ecofriendly option. But no organic or in organic pest control can be substituted one basic rule – prevention is better than cure. The single best thing you can do for your plants to keep them healthy, make sure they are well nourished and watered; a healthy plant is better able to fend off disease and pests.
Check your garden over regularly, especially your vegetable garden, watching out for insects and diseases so you can remove and destroy them by hand before they become badly infected. Keep the garden weed free, weeds take up valuable nutrients and give bugs a place to hide. Prune away infected or diseased wood on trees and shrubs, seal all pruning cuts to prevent infection. Remove weak or sickly plants especially from the vegetable garden, better to lose one than the lot. Practice crop rotation in your vegetable garden this can help to break a disease or pest cycle. Remove old or unproductive fruit trees and rake up all fallen fruit. The bugs in the fruit will complete their life cycle in the ground and re-infect your trees. There are a lot of homemade pest and disease remedies around, they aren’t a new thing, but as with any spray you use they come with a few words of caution.
Use the best ingredients you can ﬁnd especially when the recipe calls for soap and instead of making a huge vat of the spray, try a trail batch ﬁrst. Measure the ingredients don’t guess the amounts, natural sprays can cause damage. Apply at the suggested rates again for the same reason that they can cause damaged if over sprayed. These sprays will kill beneﬁcial bugs, so use wisely and spray when the bees have gone home. Take the same sensible precautions that you would with chemicals. Keep a separate set of equipment for the making sprays and store out of the reach of children. There are of course the readymade products on the market; Pyrethrum is one of the most popular alternatives. Derived from the ﬂowers of pyrethrum and because it only has a withholding period of 1 day it is considered safe to use on food crops.
Kiwicare’s No Caterpillars spray is another that is safe to use around food crops. Certiﬁed organic its main ingredient is a naturally occurring bacterium. Effective in use against leaf roller caterpillars, white butterﬂy, tomato fruit worm and looper caterpillars. To save time you can also use it in conjunction with a liquid feed. Natural sprays are not the one shot kill like the man-made ones, they are primarily a contact spray and don’t linger on the plant for long. So you need to spray on to the insect and use consistently as per the instructions until the problem has gone. Don’t forget to spray under the leaves where they like to hide.