ABC TV’s Gardening Australia programme on the weekend had a session on controlling pests in the garden. It was good to see the recommendations demonstrated, rather than just being talked about. The presenter used an old toothbrush to scrape scale from the stem of plants, when there are not many insects to deal with. The other treatment was a homemade oil spray which smothers scale and kills the insects.
The recipe for this is 2 cups vegetable oil, 1 cup pure liquid soap. Whip together with a ‘stab’ type mixer or in a food processor until it is white. Store in a screw cap bottle, labelled with the contents. To use this, mix 1 Tablespoon of the solution in 1 litre (2 pints) of water and spray over the scale. Do not spray when the temperature is 30C or above as plants could be burnt.
Scale is carried around by ants, so deal with the ants in the garden as a first step to controlling scale on plants.
Aphids are another pest which ruin the growing tips of plants, and destroy flower buds. For strong stemmed plants, spraying a jet of water onto the leaves will dislodge the insects.
I am trying to find more suitable methods of dealing with insect pests in the garden than using some of the nasty sprays that are available.