The most important aspect of disease control in your
organic garden is prevention. You want to create optimum growing
conditions for your plants by providing adequate organic matter in the
soil; good drainage; moisture; light and warmth.
You will leave your plants open to disease if you allow wind damage;
waterlogged soil; insufficient soil nutrients, lime, trace elements
etc.; inadequate air movement and lack of hygiene.
The forces of nature are very strong. Work with them and they make
powerful allies. Work against them and you have a formidable adversary.
It just makes sense to work with nature by enhancing natural forces,
rather than against it.
If you are happy to observe, enhance and take advantage of the variety
and interdependency between, and even within species, you will greatly
Organic gardeners always prefer methods that have the least
negative effect on the environment. By growing strong healthy plants we eliminate the threat of
having large scale pest invasions. But when some pest populations do build up in
our garden we should be asking “how can I encourage more predators?”,
rather than “what should I do about all these pests?”
For every pest you have in excess there is at least one, and probably many predators that
would happily relieve you of the excess. Sometimes is takes predator populations
a little longer to build than it does the pest it feasts on, so give it a little
time before pulling out the big guns – insecticides.
Remember that ‘organic’ does not mean less poisonous and that most sprays are
indiscriminate. Bearing that in mind, here are some organic ways to deal with a
few persistent bug problems.
Juice – A very effective
insecticide. Collect an assortment of pests – grasshoppers are excellent –
from wherever you are having pest problems in your garden. Liquefy them in a
blender with the addition of about a third of the volume of bugs. Strain and
dilute to about 5ml of bug juice per 1litre of water. Spray on affected plants.
Sounds yucky - but it works!
and Slugs. Fortunately there are a few
easy ways to deal with these ravenous creatures as they can devour your tender
seedlings overnight. Ducks are great snail and slug hunters and will delight
wandering around the garden in search and destroy mode. The only minor damage
you can expect is from their heavy feed, but they’ll generally not eat your
greens as chooks would.
you can collect the snails and slugs and throw them to your chooks if you keep
them – they’ll be delighted! The best time for collection is dawn and dusk
when it is moist. You can also make this job easier by having cardboard or
similar on the ground where they will gather.
If you don’t have chooks or ducks another method is similar to the bug juice
above. You need to gather some snails and/or slugs into a container with some
sugar and water. Allow it to ferment for a few days then place in the blender.
You can dilute it with water if you don’t have much ‘juice’ and sprinkle
it around problem areas.
Another method is to make a coffee spray.
This works by spraying it thoroughly on and around the seedlings you want to
protect. When the snails or slugs cross areas that have been sprayed they absorb
the caffeine and die. Dilute one part strong espresso coffee to 10 parts hot
water. When it’s cool, pour into a spray bottle and spray on plants that you
want to protect and the immediate area around them.
Then there’s the time honoured traditional snail catcher – yes, the beer
in the jar trap. Partly fill a jar with beer (stale of course, you
don’t want to waste the good stuff) and lay it on its side where they are most
active. They are attracted to the beer, get drunk and die. What a way to go! An
alternative to this is vegemite dissolved in water. They are attracted to the
bugs look like white, fluffy slaters.
They are sap-sucking insects that cause leaves to wilt and go yellow. You may
find them feasting away on your fruiting plants and ornamentals such as palms,
ferns, orchids and succulents.
prefer the sheltered conditions of a glass house or indoors. Mealy bugs exude a
sweet, sticky substance called honeydew which can lead to sooty mould fungus and
ants (ants feed on the honeydew).
best way to deal with them is to prune off the most damaged parts of the plant
and then kill any remaining bugs by dabbing them with a cottonwool ball dipped
in methylated spirits. This will dissolve their waxy protective coating, they
will dehydrate and die.
are sucking insects that feed on plant sap. They
form in thick clusters on the leaves and soft growth of many garden plants. They
also produce honeydew as a waste by-product of their feeding. Heavy infestations
can cause stunted growth and wilting.
you only have a small infestation you can scrape them off your plant with your
fingernail or a toothbrush. Larger numbers can be sprayed with a solution of
homemade oil spray. You can also use the oil spray to eliminate citrus
leaf-miner and red spider mite. When you coat them thoroughly, the pests are
suffocated by the oil.
500ml of vegetable oil to 250ml of pure liquid soap to a bowl.
together in a blender and then store in a jar.
1tablespoon of mixture in 1litre of water. Spray, making sure you get under all the leaves.
Have kitchen utensils and a blender that are dedicated
specifically for the purpose of spray preparation.
all sprays with extreme caution and do not eat from any plant that has been
sprayed for at least two weeks.
Deterring Pest Birds
Blackbirds are a real pest in my veggie garden here in the Barossa Valley,
South Australia. They look for insects and grubs on the ground with their feet
and beaks by pushing around mulch and leaf-litter. This really annoys me when
I've just laid out a fresh layer of mulch because they make such a mess. So I'm doing a trial with several
rubber snakes around my veggie plots to see if it makes a difference.
Remove their nests if you find them under your eaves or verandas, to
discourage them breeding around your property. They build medium to
large fibre and mud nests.