Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 3rd 2015 Contents B16
By Akiela Hope
Nothing frustrates a planter more than
having unwanted visitors in their garden.
Those pesky invaders appear uninvited
and stay much longer than they should. So
how do you get rid of them?
Following along the lines of Greg Seaman,
editor of Earth Easy, he explains that "the
easiest way to prevent insect damage in
your garden is to discourage them from com-
ing in the first place. "A healthy garden is the
best defence." In order to have a healthy gar-
den he proposes a few steps:
• Pull out any weak plants. They may al-
ready be infected. If not, they will attract
predators. Pull the plant and dispose of it
away from the garden area.
• Build healthy, organic soil. Natural com-
posting methods, mulching and top-dressing
your soil with compost or natural fertilizer is
the best way to develop strong, vigorous
• Use seaweed mulch or spray. Seaweed
contains trace elements such as iron, zinc,
barium, calcium, sulfur and magnesium,
which promote healthy development in
plants. Seaweed fertilizer in mulch or spray
form will enhance growth and give plants
the strength to withstand disease. Seaweed
mulch also repels slugs.
• Minimize insect habitat. Clear garden
area of debris and weeds which are breeding
places for insects. Use clean mulch.
• Interplant and rotate crops. Insect pests
are often plant specific. When plantings are
mixed, pests are less likely to spread
throughout a crop. Rotating crops each year
is a common method to avoid re-infestation
of pests which have remained in the bed.
• Keep foliage dry. Water early so foliage
will be dry for most of the day. Wet foliage
encourages insect and fungal damage to
• Disinfect. If you've been working with in-
fested plants, clean your tools before moving
on the other garden areas. This will reduce
the speed of invading insects.
Homemade remedies are inexpensive and,
best of all, you know what is going into your
garden. Many homemade sprays have been
used with good results to control harmful in-
sects. They usually involve noxious (but non-
toxic) ingredients such as garlic, cayenne,
stinging nettles or horsetail which are diluted
in water and blended to be sprayed on
plants. Here are a few simple formulas:
• Soft-bodied insects (mites, aphids,
mealybugs, etc). Mix one tablespoon canola
oil and a few drops of Ivory soap into a quart
of water. Shake well and pour into a spray
bottle. Spray plant from above down, and
from below up to get the underside of the
leaves. The oil smothers the insects.
• Grubs. For lawn or garden grubs, there is
a natural remedy called milky spore. The
granules are spread on the soil and cause the
grubs to contract a disease that kills them.
The natural control affects only the grubs,
leaving the beneficial organisms unharmed.
Milky spore multiplies over time and will sit
inactive, waiting for grubs to infect. One
treatment is said to last 40 years. The grubs
are actually the larvae of Japanese beetles.
So, when you kill the grub you kill the beetle.
• Mites and other insects. Mix two table-
spoons of hot pepper sauce or cayenne pep-
per with a few drops of Ivory soap into a
quart of water. Let stand overnight, then stir
and put into a spray bottle and apply as
above. Shake container frequently during ap-
• Earwigs, slugs, and other soft- bodied
garden pests. Sprinkle diatomaceous earth
over plants and around edges of garden
beds. The diatoms particles are very small
and sharp -- but only harmful to the small ex-
oskeletons of insects, slugs and snails. In-
sects cannot become immune to its action,
as it is a mechanical killer -- not a chemical
• Fungal disease. Mix two tablespoons of
baking soda into a quart of water. Pour into
spray container and spray affected areas. Re-
peat this process every few days until prob-
• Powdery mildew. Mix equal parts milk
and water and spray on infected plants.
Three treatments a week apart should con-
trol the disease.
• Insects and fungal diseases. Combine
one tablespoon of cooking oil, two table-
spoons of baking soda and a few drops of
Ivory soap into a quart of water. Pour into
spray container and apply as above.
• Insects on fruit trees. Lime sulfur and
dormant oil, available at nurseries and gar-
den centres, can be sprayed on the trunk and
branches of dormant fruit trees. This concoc-
tion will suffocate insect egg cases. Because
the oily spray is heavy compared to the other
water-based sprays, you'll need a pump
sprayer. These are fairly inexpensive, and are
available to rent from some nurseries. Only
use this method while the tree is dormant,
however, or it can kill the tree.
Commercial dormant oils may contain pe-
troleum oil and kerosene. A less toxic
method is to make your own. Mix 1 cup veg-
etable oil and 2 tablespoons liquid soap in
one gallon (4 litres) of water. Mix the soap
and oil first, then add the water. Shake often
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