Alternatives to Conventional Garden Chemicals?

greyfurball Posts: 591 ✭✭✭✭
edited November 2020 in Pest & Weed Problems/Solutions

Yes, I know they say Neem oil, Dr Earth and some Safer products are all approved for organic use. But my problem is I still lnow how to read and some of those ingredients I do not consider organic or safe (since I do have problems with chemical allergies).

So I'm always experimenting with grocery type of products to mix and match to get suitable results as good as those chemicals. When I see an ingredient label therefore I want to see raw milk, organic dry milk powder, lemon juice, isoprophyll alcohol, Dr. Bronner's soap etc. etc.. Each of these I can confirm the ingredients and I also can read the ingredient label and understand it.

So for me it's just starting going into powdery mildew and cabbage fly season.

Powdery mildew I always have used the dry milk/water mixture. It's helps some but it's not perfect. So I'm just wondering if anyone has found something else which works well for them.

As for cabbage flies, I always used floating row covers and they do work perfect. But this year I inter-planted my brassica bed with other plant families, one of them happens to be tomatoes. I can't hide tomatoes under an 8 foot row cover just so the cabbage family stays safe from the cabbage worm.

So, as every experiment goes, you have to find new or other ways to get anticipated results.

Anyone else found good suggestions for insect control, fungicide control etc.?


  • Sheila
    Sheila Posts: 105 ✭✭✭

    I'm not sure if they are still in print but Rodale had a couple of really good books on natural pest and disease control that I reference often Great Gardening Formulas and their Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening

  • Acequiamadre
    Acequiamadre Posts: 269 ✭✭✭

    When I started gardening I was taught to build the soil. I have focused on this and rarely have plant issues--except for bugs. Squash bugs and harlequin bugs. These I try to pick but am going to experiment with Neem oil this year. Do you have any experience with this?

    For slugs we used to put beer out and they would drink it, get drunk, fall in and drown. It works (and for a slug maybe the best way to go).

  • greyfurball
    greyfurball Posts: 591 ✭✭✭✭

    @Acequiamadre I agree with you completely about the soil.

    When I started gardening, to me dirt was dirt. The only difference was had I broke it up yet so I could plant something in it. Well that was the first year and it didn't take me long to figure out nothing was working so everyone else must do something else.

    That winter was time to get myself an education with a lot of reading.

    Now I have beautiful soil and generally I only have the disease problems which are common to my area. Luckily since my plants are pretty healthy I can't say I have got no crop, but I know some diseases I get it anyway.

    As for your Neem oil question, a bottle of chemicals is always my last resort. To me, even the approved for organic use chemicals are still chemicals. They are not safe if used incorrectly, used too much, too often etc etc. I have a bottle for 5 years now and have not opened it yet.

    I have not got desperate enough to have to use it yet. That's why I asked if anybody had any home remedies they have lots of luck with each year in their area.

  • Ethereal Earth
    Ethereal Earth Posts: 142 ✭✭✭

    @greyfurball I have found that a lot of the pest problems can be solved with companion planting. I know that asparagus helps repel tomato bugs and mint, marigold, lemon grass, lavender can repel a variety of insects. I would look into this and see if any plants repel cabbage bugs that you could plant around them.

    Crushed egg shells in the dirt down by roots can help against root rot as well as dirt born cut worms from destroying your plants.

    Vinegar, warm water and a bit of dish soap is my go to for other problems that come up such as aphids, spider mites.

  • t_levina
    t_levina Posts: 5

    As some people mentioned earlier the companion planting can help you to eliminate bug problem in some cases. For instance I always plant carrots and onions together : onions repel carrot fly, and carrots repel onion fly. Moreover, I sow carrot seeds with radish seeds, so when radishes emerge they indicate where in two weeks carrot seedlings will be appearing. You harvest radishes first, and it’s carrots’ turn to grow . My radishes never worm damage whatsoever , and I suspect it is thank to carrots :)

  • t_levina
    t_levina Posts: 5

    with regard to diseases, it is really important to keep crops rotating: for instance, never plant nightshades after you grew another nightshade plant in that particular spot. Ideally , you should wait 2 years before returning them to the same spot. I always consult a chart with good / bad predecessor plants . It is in Russian, but will try to find a link to such chart in English

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,408 admin

    @greyfurball There is another thread on the go about using garlic (and other ingredients) instead of chemicals.

    Garlic water: insecticide, fungicide, deterrent. I tried to put in a link but having difficulty but if you type that into the search box it should get you there.

    I agree with @etherealearthhomestead about companion planting being useful or using plants as trap crops. My lovage seed heads are a great trap crop for black aphids. The big seed heads will be completely black with aphids with none on anything else. Easy to clip the heads and dispose of them in the burning barrel.

  • dipat2005
    dipat2005 Posts: 1,207 ✭✭✭✭

    @greyfurball thanks for the reminder about crushed egg shells. I used those for snails and slugs in the garden around strawberry plants here in the pacific northwest. I have used Marigolds for tomato companion planting.

  • herbantherapy
    herbantherapy Posts: 453 ✭✭✭✭

    @dipat2005 I can’t keep a marigold alive in my garden for more than 1 day. The minute the bloom opens a slug is on top of it. Also egg shells get soft after it rains so frequent application is necessary.

  • greyfurball
    greyfurball Posts: 591 ✭✭✭✭

    @herbantherapy I have a problem with marigolds also but mine is ants.

    I can plant them interspersed all thru my garden and flower beds and morning one I am missing several (chewed down to a twig) in a couple of places. Day two some more twigs in another area. Usually within 3-4 days they have found them all so after years of attempts I just gave up and plant other kinds of flowers for pollinators with no problems.

    Those ants sure are fussy about their choice of menu!

  • Grounded
    Grounded Posts: 153 ✭✭✭

    There is a lot of useful information here. It makes me realize how much I have to learn. I vegetable garden at a community garden and I see all kinds of methods used to grow plants and discourage pests. There are some who companion plant and some that use sprays and some that use powders. I have been learning about a different variation, which entails building the soil, intense planting so that the vegetable plants also serve as ground cover and relying on the soil to nourish the plants such that they are strong enough to resist most pests.

  • dimck421
    dimck421 Posts: 203 ✭✭✭

    I began with mulch. Hey! Let that stuff decompose, and boom! I am in plant city. Yeah, uh, not so fast. First year, it really was just a pile of mulch. Good news was, no "weeds" dwelled there. Next year, hmmm, I need to help this stuff out some, fungi added. Next year "weeds" loved my mulch, but my intended plants were not so in love. End of the season, I let my ducks remove all the spent plants, dig around, and well, fertilize the mulch mass. Since this was in the early fall, I knew the fertilizer would no longer be hot, come spring. Ducks were the charm! Every fall the little darlings clear up the garden and add a bit of fertilizer. Come spring, my garden spot is spiffy clean and ready to go. Aside from using a tobacco stick to mark rows or make devits, I remain no dig. Two concerns do exist with this method; the first is rarely are plants able to return season after season, as the ducks perform a really good clean up, and the second is ducks are rather messy employees, but they have all kinds of cute going for them, which means their good far outweighs their messiness.