Old wives’ tales and homemade pest control

I would not class myself as a fully fledged tree-hugger. I will use chemicals in the garden but usually only as a last resort.

So I am always intrigued to hear about old wives’ tales that relate to the garden. Some of them work, some of them don’t but you shouldn’t knock them before you’ve tried them.

Here are some I read about this week.

Aphid garlic spray

Add three chopped garlic cloves to two cups of water. Add a few drops of washing up liquid, shake and allow to stand for 24 hours. Sieve the mix and add the water to a spray bottle.

Spray infected plants once in the morning and once again in the evening, once a week. Hose the plants down the following day to wash away the dead aphids (apart from those of you who still have a hosepipe ban!).

Now Mr Mac is always going on about horticultural soap but I think the stuff he is thinking about has now been banned by some European legislation. It probably interfered with a greenfly’s right to life or some such nonsense. We can never find it at the garden centre and we are too scared to ask in case they think we are eco-terrorists.

However, I think the principle of using soap is so the aphids can’t get a grip and slide off the plant. We have tried this with fairy liquid but with limited success. I will now try it with the added garlic as we always have an issue with whitefly on the fruit bushes. This method was also endorsed on last week’s episode of The Beechgrove Garden. So if it’s good enough for Jim McColl, it’s good enough for me!

Club root control

Rhubarb leaves contain poisonous oxalic acid which is said to kill off club root fungus, the scourge of the brassica crop. It was the active ingredient in now withdrawn club root chemical controls (Europe again?).

Tear a leaf into small pieces and add one to the bottom of each planting hole before planting brassicas.

I have not suffered from club root (so far) but we have some rhubarb at the bottom of the garden so I might give this a try.

Add nitrogen

By peeing on a new compost heap, the added nitrogen is said to kick-start the rotting process and turn garden waste into usable mulch that bit quicker. This is a job for the man of the house though as male urine is less acidic than female urine.

I’ll need to speak nicely to Mr Mac about that one!

Slug remedies

Slugs are definitely my gardening nemesis. They are everywhere, they eat everything and they are a big problem in my garden. They are UK’s no.1 pest so I am not alone.

I have tried coffee grinds, sharp sand, egg shells, hair, cat fur, orange peel, beer traps, all of which are supposed to keep slugs away. I always thought it was the texture of coffee grinds that the slugs did not like but apparently the coffee grinds react with the slug’s slime producing mechanism and they dry out and can’t move.

Whatever these remedies are supposed to do, they don’t keep slugs off my plants I’m afraid. Not only that but I also read that more slugs actually live in the soil than on the surface and do their damage below ground. This means that surrounding your plants with coffee grinds etc is useless!

Even the Royal Horticultural Society agrees that when it comes to slugs, a chemical killer is the best option. So it’s off to the garden centre to see what they’ve got. We might even ask about horticultural soap while we’re there!


2 responses to “Old wives’ tales and homemade pest control

  1. Great tip about the garlic spray…… I did watch Jim on the Beechgrove Garden but did not write down the instructions. Many thanks from the other side of the Tay just outside Newburgh.

  2. The garlic spray seems ingenious. I think i’ll try it to see if it has any effects on those pesky ants.

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