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Updated : 21/9/2014

Natural Sprays

Creating a natural balance in your garden will take practice, time and patience. It is a fascinating subject that will "get you hooked". If you have done everything you can to achieve this balance but still have problems you may have to resort to a natural spraying programme. Please remember that natural sprays do not show instant results like harmful chemical sprays. Spraying must be repeated until the problem disappears. Keep a careful watch for insect and fungal problems in your garden and if noticed, start spraying immediately.

If you don’t have the time to make your own sprays; there are many natural organic sprays available at all good garden centres. 

There are three methods of preparing sprays:-

  • a tonic spray
  • a boiled spray and
  • a fermented spray

Never use iron pots to prepare natural sprays as this could cause unfavourable chemical reactions. Spray early in the morning for best results. 

Tonic spray

Fresh or dried herbs can be used. Chop fresh herbs in small pieces. Pour boiling water over the herbs and put a lid on the container, allowing the spray to cool off before straining it well and spraying.

Boiled spray

Chop fresh or dried herbs into small pieces and soak in cold water for about 24 hours. Bring the mixture to the boil and then simmer for about 20 minutes with the lid on. Allow the mixture to cool before straining well and spraying. The mixture can be stored for up to a week in the refrigerator or a cool place.

Fermented spray

Fresh herbs are placed in cold or hot water for at least two weeks for fermentation. In winter the process will take longer. The longer it ferments the stronger the mixture becomes. Generally 1kg of fresh herbs or 200g of dried herbs is put into 10 litres of water. Stir the solution daily to introduce oxygen. To enrich the mixture with trace elements and to reduce odour, rock- potash can be added. Before spraying, strain well and dilute it 1:20, (One part mixture to 20 parts water). For acute attacks a dilution of 1:10 can be used.

An excellent general-purpose insecticide

Juice or chop a large handful of fresh tomato leaves and add 2 litres of boiling water. When the mixture is cool, strain it well and dilute it 1:10 (one part mixture to 10 parts water). Mulching with cut tomato leaves is also beneficial.

 

 

 

General insecticide

Khakibos is a weed in South Africa and grows prolifically during summer in open ground. It is a good insect repellent. Half—fill a bucket with chopped fresh plants and cover to the top with boiling water. Allow the mixture to stand overnight before straining well and spraying. Fresh branches can be laid between rows of vegetables as an insect deterrent. 

Garlic spray for fungal diseases and insects

Garlic spray is easy to make at home and is fantastic to control fungal diseases as well as deterring many insects like ants, aphids, beetles, snails, caterpillars and cabbage moths. Juice; crush or grate about 150 grams of garlic cloves and mix with 2 teaspoons of paraffin. Let it stand for 24 hours. Grate 150g green Sunlight soap or any oil based soap and dissolve it in 5 litres of water. Mix this thoroughly with the garlic mixture and allow it to stand for one more day. Strain well before spraying.  

Tabasco sauce to keep flying insects at bay

Mix two teaspoons of Tabasco sauce with one litre of water and spray your plants. Repeat after rain.

Lavender spray for insects and fungal diseases

Because of its strong scent and antiseptic qualities lavender makes a great insect repelling spray. It is excellent to control ants, aphids, whitefly and rust on plants and vegetables. Any lavender can be used but Dutch lavender works best. Rue, khakibos or marigolds can also be added. Fill a half a bucket with roughly chopped herbs and add one bucket of boiling water and let it steep overnight. Strain and add a half-cup of soap powder, stirring it in well. Spray or water over your plants and pour the mixture down ant holes. The brew can also be used to wash out birdcages, rabbit hutches and dog kennels.

 

 

For snails and slugs 

Snails dislike parsley and the hairy leaves of comfrey and borage will help to deter them. 

Bury plastic containers into the ground; half fill them with stale beer. Snails are attracted to the smell of the beer, fall in and drown while attempting to drink. The containers must have deep, vertical sides to keep the snails from crawling out and be panted level with the ground. A mixture of sugar- water and yeast will also attract them to the traps. 

Place wet paper or cabbage leaves, face down around endangered pants in the morning and collect the snails in the evening That have crawled underneath to escape the days heat. Moist bran can be placed underneath the leaves as bait.

Collect eggshells to place around vulnerable plants as snails and slugs hate rough surfaces. Run a coarse gravel pathway around the vegetable patch, interplant with herbs.

For cutworms

Collect empty yoghurt or similar plastic containers. Cut the bottoms out of them and plant them into the ground at least 2 to 3 cm deep and plant your seedlings inside. The container is removed once the seedlings are nice and strong.

For cutworm, fruit fly, aphids, rust and lawn caterpillars

Use 30 grams of dried wormwood or 300g of chopped fresh wormwood. Pour 2 litres of boiling water over the herbs and allow it to infuse for 20 minutes with a lid on. Strain well and dilute 1:5 (one part mixture to 5 parts water) before spraying.

 

For aphids, fruit fly ants and beetles

Chop four Jalapenos, Habaneras or any hot chillies, 4 cloves of garlic and 3 onions. Bring them to the boil in 2 litres of water and simmer for 20 minutes with the lid on. Let the mixture steep for 24 hours before straining. Add 125ml of vinegar and 125ml of methylated spirits and 2 Tablespoons of dish washing liquid or liquid paraffin to the mixture before spraying. For fruit fly spray only the leaves of the plants, not the blossoms. 

To protect against beetle attacks

Take two handfuls of chopped comfrey leaves and 250 grams of chopped garlic. Add them to 2 litres of cold water and leave overnight. Bring the mixture to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes with the lid on. When the mixture cools down dilute it with water 1:10 (one part mixture to 10 parts water). Spray weekly when beetles are active. Comfrey is rich in nitrogen, protein, potash, trace elements and minerals. It promotes healthy plants and strong cell structure. The smell of garlic repels beetles. This recipe is also used to control the cucumber beetle.

For the flower or fruit chafer beetle

These beetles are easy To identity by There striking black and yellow patterns and The buzzing sound They make. They are attracted To The colour yellow. Make a Trap by cutting a small window in The Top half of a 2-liTre plastic cool drink bottle. Paint a yellow band above and below The window and fill with Two Tablespoons of sugar dissolved into 200ml of water. Place The Trap near susceptible plants. 

For Astylus (spotted maize) beetles

These beetles are identified by their irregularly shaped yellow and black spots. Plant marigolds, as a `bait' plant amongst your vegetables and the beetles will be attracted to the marigolds and leave your vegetables alone.

For the chafer or rose beetle

These brown beetles are also called Christmas beetles and feed at night. The larvae of this beetle are white and lie curled up in a C shape. They love breeding in compost heaps so remove all white grubs from the compost heap and feed them to the birds before using the soil. The beetles are attracted to light so put a bucket of wafer outside at night with a light overhead and many beetles will fall in and drown. Please check The Trap regularly and put the beetles out of their misery quickly. 

Fruit fly bait

Mix 3 Tablespoons of molasses and 1 Tablespoon of vinegar into 1 litre of hot water. Allow the mixture to cool before spooning it into containers, leaving the top open. Hang the containers into your fruit trees or place them around squashes and other susceptible crops. Fruit flies attracted to this solution will drown.

For wooly aphids

Spray as for other aphids and ensure that your plants are not over crowded with poor ventilation. Improve your soil by digging in lots of compost.

Fruit aphids and scale

Grate 150g green Sunlight soap or use 2 Tablespoons of Sunlight liquid dissolved in 5 litres of water. Spray plants thoroughly.

Juice or chop 500 grams onions and mix with 5 litres of cold water. Leave it to stand for about 24 hours before straining well and spraying. 

 

 

For aphids

  1. Fill an old stocking with cake flour and dust your plants with it. Most of the aphids will fall off immediately. After about 20 minutes, wash the flour off with water.
  2. Juice about 300-gram rhubarb leaves and stems, mix with 5 litres of boiling water. Allow the mixture to cool before straining well and spraying.
  3. Finely chop a whole garlic bulb and soak in one and a half litres of water. Add 2 teaspoons of liquid paraffin and one teaspoon of Sunlight liquid. Leave for 24 hours before straining and spraying.

For scale red spider mite and aphids

Take 2 handfuls of fresh nasturtium leaves and add 500ml of boiling water and 1 tablespoon of dishwashing liquid. Steep overnight before straining and diluting 1:4; (one part mixture to four parts water).

Spray with a mineral oil like Oleum that will suffocate the insects.

For red spider

Ensure that ventilation is good amongst your plants and do not over feed with nitrogen, Red spider is very difficult to control and will require regular spraying.

Infuse about two handfuls of chopped chives in 2 litres of water overnight. Strain well and spray thoroughly underneath the leaves.

Boil one cup of sugar with one cup of water, cool and dilute with 3 litres of water. Spray thoroughly underneath the leaves. 

Wash the spiders off from underneath The leaves with a stream of water or spray with rape or grape seed oil.

For white fly

White fly can be a real problem to control as it takes up To 21 days to break their breeding cycle. Ensure that ventilation is good amongst your plants and do not over feed with nitrogen.

To break the cycle:-

  1. The following sprays should be applied daily for 5 days, then no spraying for 3 days.
  2. Spray daily for 4 days, no spraying for 3 days.
  3. Spray daily for 3 days, no spraying for 3 days.
  4. If there are still signs of infestation, spray for another two days.

 

  1. Take 1 Teaspoon each of Epsom salts, Scrubs Ammonia and Jeyes Fluid, 2 Teaspoons of Kelpak and 2 Tablespoons of liquid dishwasher or liquid paraffin. Mix with 5 litres of water. Shake well before spraying.
  2. Take 1 litre of warm water and add 1 Tablespoon of vinegar, 1 Teaspoon of Sunlight dish wash and a quarter cup of Omo washing powder. Mix and spray thoroughly, especially underneath the leaves.

Mix 20 ml of Methy|ated spirits and 10 ml Sunlight liquid dish wash into1 Litre of warm water and spray thoroughly.

For white fly, red spider, mealy bugs and aphids

Half fill a bucket with roughly chopped coriander and anise. Add a bucket of boiling water and leave it covered to steep overnight. Strain and add a quarter cup of soap powder before spraying thoroughly, especially underneath the leaves if you have whitefly or red spider. 

 

 

For mealy bug

Improve the quality of your soil and make sure your crop is watered regularly. Take one handful of chopped comfrey leaves and add them to 2 litres of boiling wafer and leave overnight. Strain and add a half a teaspoon of dishwashing liquid before spraying your plants.

To defer cabbage moths 

 

The caterpillars of the diamond-back moth can cause serious damage in many cruciferous plants like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. The larvae are light brown when they hatch and turn green as they grow. Crop rotation is one of the best ways to control them. Remove the lower leaves and clear all debris after harvesting the crop.

Juice or chop a handful of fresh Tomato leaves and add 2 litres of boiling water. When the mixture is cool, strain it well and dilute it 1:10 (one part mixture to 10 parts water). Mulching with cut Tomato leaves is also beneficial.

Spray with the garlic spray recipe above.

For caterpillars and the cabbage worm

Mix together equal quantities of flour and salt and shake if onto the leaves. Water it off after about 30 minutes.

Spray with the garlic spray recipe above 

 

 

For ants

 Sugar ants are seldom a problem in well-maintained soil and won’t damage your plants. They are actually beneficial to the gardener and help aerate the soil. Improve the soil in your beds by digging in lots of compost. Garlic spray will chase them away to another part of the garden. 

Use 500 grams of chopped garlic in 5 litres of water and allow it to ferment for 24 hours before pouring it down the nests and spraying it along their paths.

During severe attacks mix equal parts of icing sugar and borax. Place the powder on a piece of wood near where there is ant activity. Keep away from children and pets.

Roughly chop and fill half a bucket with fresh or dried khakibos (use the whole plant). Add a bucket of boiling water, and steep for 24 hours before straining and adding 1 tablespoon of dishwashing liquid or liquid paraffin and mixing well. Spray ant infested areas and plants and pour the mixture down ant holes. Lavender and Thyme can also be added or all three combined. This will also keep aphids away and can be sprayed onto windowsills etc to keep mosquitoes away.

For onion fly

 Spray with chamomile or tansy tea. Use about 25O grams of freshly chopped herbs to 2.5 litres of water and bring to the boil with the lid on. Allow the mixture to cool before straining well and spraying.

 

 

To deter the carrot rust fly 

 Spray young plants with a boiled onion and Tansy mixture weekly. Use 250 grams each of chopped onions and Tansy. Place the chopped herbs into 2.5 litres of water and bring to the boil with the lid on. Allow the mixture to cool before straining well and spraying. 

 

 

 

For thrips

 Thrips are especially active during dry, hot weather. Improve the condition of your soil by digging in lots of compost. Sprays containing garlic and canola oil will help to control them. If the infestation is very bad it may be necessary to use an organic spray from your garden centre.

 

 

 

For wireworms 

Lay out bait that they enjoy like pieces of carrot and potato. Check the bait daily and squash the worms.

For powdery mildew and black spot

Use 25O grams each of chopped garlic, onions and chives. Place the chopped herbs into 2.5 litres of water and allow it to ferment for 24 hours before straining well and spraying.

 Use 2 Tablespoons baking soda and 1 teaspoon commercial sticker like 6-49 or liquid paraffin in 4 litres of water. Mix well together before spraying.

 

 

For rust and mildew

Combine 2 Tablespoons baking soda with 6 Tablespoons liquid paraffin or Oleum and 2 Tablespoons of Kelp in 4 litres of water. Mix together and spray.

To help fight fungal diseases

Pour 1 litre of boiling water over 10 grams of chopped horsetail and wormwood. Allow the mixture to cool before straining and spraying undiluted onto the soil. This helps to prevent soil—borne fungal diseases and promotes healthy plant growth.

Mix 5 tablespoons of soya bean oil into 3 litres of water. Add 1 teaspoon of dishwashing liquid, or commercial sticker like G-49 or liquid paraffin. Stir well before spraying.

Take two handfuls of chopped comfrey leaves and add them to 2 litres of cold water and leave overnight. Bring the mixture to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes with the lid on. When the mixture cools down dilute it with water 1:10 (one part mixture to 10 parts water). Comfrey is rich in nitrogen, protein, potash, trace elements and minerals. It promotes healthy plants and strong cell structure.

 

 

Growth stimulant spray

Place all the weeds, grass clippings, herb clippings etc from your garden into a big bucket and cover them with water. Allow it to ferment for one week until the water looks green. Dilute the mixture 50/50 with water, strain and spray onto your plants or water it over them with a watering can. This spray will contain all the trace elements and nutrients of the weeds. If you don't have the time to do this, growth stimulants like Kelpak are available at garden centres.

Scab

Scab is a fungal disease caused by alkaline soil. Work in lots of compost and dig in a green manure of beans, peas or lupins. 

For rust and mildew

Combine 2 tablespoons baking soda with 6 tablespoons liquid paraffin or Oleum and 2 tablespoons of Kelp in 4 litres of water. Mix together and spray.

Hormone spray

 The white parts of citrus contain hormones that promote growth. Soak citrus peels in a bucket of water and water this mixture onto your seedlings and cuttings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Banana skins

 Banana skins are rich in potassium and starch, so dry them and crumble them around your plants.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fermented Calendula spray

This strengthens plant tissue and promotes healthy growth. Use 1kg of plant in 10 litres of water. Allow it to ferment for two weeks, stirring daily, dilute it 1:10 (1 part spray to 10 parts water) and spray onto your plants.

Coffee

Coffee grounds make a great organic fertiliser that provides many trace minerals as well as nitrogen potassium and phosphorous. 

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