Monday, July 5, 2010

Homemade Organic Garden chemicals

This post will be expanded in future as I learn, to date there is herbicide, insecticide and fungicide that you can make at home.
Hope it is of some help to some.

The safety of using commercially available weedkillers, pesticides etc. is not entirely known.
While the manufacturers and Governments say they are safe, the long term affects of the continued use of these toxic chemicals and their affects on people and other living creatures is not entirely known.

For those of us who do not want our children and pets exposed to these toxic chemicals while trying to find a way to deal with pests there are alternatives

The nice thing about using a bio-degradable homemade garden chemicals is that you are not harming your family and pets which can happen with the commercially available chemicals.

At least these suggestions mean you know exactly what you are spraying.

Anyway - here are a few suggested solutions, or alternatives to common chemicals - at least you know what goes into them.

I have written a bit about my own concerns in relation to chemical corporations after the recipies, but first here is my list of home made garden chemicals

 BORDEAUX MIX (Bluestone spray)
For preventing Potato Blight and some other fungal diseases:-

Copper Sulphate 1 lb (250g)
Hydrated Lime 1¼ lb (315g)
Water 10 gal (25 litres)

Use as a spray wetting all surfaces of leaves and stems.

Burgundy Mixture is is a similar preparation with more commonly found ingredients:
50g Copper Sulphate (bluestone)
60g Sodium Carbonate (washing soda) or Sodium Bicarbonate (baking soda)
60g Soot if available
add to 5 litres of water
Garlic spray is generally an effective, short-term repellent and will kill some soft-bodied insects. Don't forget that garlic does smell, so be selective as to where you spray it.

Garlic Spray - kills many insect pests and friends so use carefully

1. Non-oily - Chop one or two complete garlic bulbs (heads) and cover with boiling water in a lidded jar. Leave to soak overnight.
Strain and add to one litre of Soap Spray. Unused spray will decay but can be frozen to preserve.

2. Oily - 100g chopped garlic soaked for at least 24 hours in 30ml veg oil.
Add 500ml water with 5ml liquid soap and stir well to emulsify the oil.
This should keep for a few months in a sealed childproof jar - store in a cool area.

Use 30ml of preparation in 500ml water and 5ml soap to spray plants.

Although environmentally friendly this home made spray can cause damage to innocent insects and bugs that just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, the same applies to fragile vegetation in the close proximity.

While there are many different recipes out there for a homemade weed killer most of them are based off of the following:
• 1 litre of white vinegar.
• 60 grammes of table salt.
• 1 squirt of washing up liquid.
Mix everything together making sure the salt is completely dissolved.
You can then pour this into a spray bottle or one of those weed sprayers you can get at any garden center.

You spray this solution directly on the weeds you want to get rid of preferably on a hot day in full sun for best results. One thing to remember with this solution is to not get it on anything you don’t want to kill.

It is non-selective in what it kills meaning it will kill any plant life it comes in contact with and it will sterilize the soil for up to two years depending on how much you get on the soil.

Please pay particular attention to this, the salt in the solution is what makes the soil uninhabitable for weed seedlings which are still to come.
If you wish to effectively poison your soil to new sowings and plantings for approx two years, then add the the salt element, if not omit it.
So with salt is best for patios, gravel drive etc, basically all areas designed to be free of growth, whereas without salt is better for beds, borders, lawns and veg areas, where you intend to plant again.

Also be aware that this solution cannot be sprayed wholesale over lawns to kill just weeds, as it is indiscriminate in its damage to both weed and grass. On a lawn it is better suited to spot treatment
If you are concerned about getting the vinegar solution on your desirable plants you can use a cloth to wipe the solution on the leafy parts of the weeds.

This will keep any of the solution from coming in contact with the plants you want to keep.

If you use this method it is advisable to wear rubber gloves to protect your hands from the acidic affects of the vinegar.
If you don’t want to use this formula for a homemade weed killer then you can always rely on the tried and true method of hand-pulling any weeds you find in your landscape. Eventually the weeds lose the ability to create enough food for their roots to continue to grow and their roots will die off. This actually works best if you don’t have a lot of weeds in your drive or garden.

DISCLAIMER: ( I have been advised to put this in)
Under Irish and EU law it is illegal to use any preparation as a pesticide/fungicide/herbicide that is not approved for such use.
The information here is for reference only and does not imply a recommendation for use.
If you disregard this warning and make any of the preparations, you do so entirely at your own risk.
The author and the website accepts no responsibility for how a user may mix, use, store, or any effects the mixture or its elements may have on people, plants or the environment.


I am not particularly scared of GM foods. To an extent most foods we eat are modified by selective breeding. A lot of resistance to science is Luddite.

I do believe, however, in choice, and being permitted to make an informed decision. People are concerned about GM crops for many reasons.
That is why GM foods should be clearly labelled as such, and I distrust the fact that the companies producing GM foods object to this.

Now, it is illegal under EU law to make any of these mixes, the control methods are suggested here as a matter of general information.

Diversity in nature is a good thing, having single strain crops is a real danger, pathogens develop resistance, that is nature and evolution.
We see now the effect of our over reliance on antibiotics with the development of MRSA in the past 50 years.

And now with GM crops being bred to have resistance to roundup we see the development of Superweeds that are also resistant.

Companies like Monsanto, Dow and Union Carbide (of the Bhopal disaster) have - in my opinion - hired some very successful lobbyists to ensure we need to use, and even grow, only their products.

I really feel that having crops that are engineered to be resistant to herbicides is not a bad thing, it will allow better food production for the world - but the cross over effect from lack of research, or perhaps greed is already having a detrimental effect in the space of 30 years.

With the way the EU is structured post Lisbon II, this means large multinationals can hire lobbyist companies to persuade the unelected technocrats to stop or reduce the impact of clear branding.

The one thing I am very uncomfortable with the is the morality of copyright on living things, be that vegetables or animals like lab mice or chickens.

For example AviGenics is one US company that want to get copyright on a genetically modified chicken, with a DNA copyright tag inserted in its genes to stop people breeding it without permission.
The "trademark" would not only be locked into each of the chicken's millions of cells, but would be handed on to the bird's offspring indefinitely. It means breeders and farmers would be beholden to a large corporation

Monsanto has sued many farmers when their GM crops have turned up on the farmer's fields even though the farmers say they never planted them.
Farmers who get into the Roundup-Ready (RR)system lose their independence, and are obliged to sign a lengthy and restrictive agreement, this can include restrictions on saving seeds.

Monsanto contracts private investigation firms to regularly check up on their own farmers, and independent, non-GM farmers as well, taking samples unannounced from their fields to make sure they are not in violation of the contracts issued.

I don't like the RR system, it is crops that have been modified to withstand Roundup - a very strong herbicide, killing all other plants except those with resistance.

RR is a "no-till" system. Rather than the traditional tilling of the ground to control weeds the RR system relies on its herbicide to control them.

This requires the exclusive use of Monsanto's herbicide, Roundup, primarily, some say, to increase profits for Monsanto - and at almost 250 million GM acres worldwide which all require Roundup that's a lot of profit.

David Ehrenfield, Professor of Biology at Rutgers University said "Genetic Engineering is often justified as a human technology, one that feeds more people with better food. Nothing could be further from the truth. With very few exceptions, the whole point of genetic engineering is to increase sales of chemicals and bio-engineered products to dependent farmers"

In the United States, the adoption of Roundup Ready crops combined with the very alarming emergence of glyphosate-resistant weeds has driven a more than 15-fold increase in the use of glyphosate on major field crops from 1994 to 2005.

The weed resistance is not unlike the development of MRSA and super bugs, that we have so many anti-biotics in our food chain has made certain bacteria resistant to them, as are some diseases.

Monsanto, which once argued that resistance would not become a major problem, now cautions against exaggerating its impact. “It’s a serious issue, but it’s manageable,” said Rick Cole, who manages weed resistance issues in the United States for the company.

Across the Americas there has been the growth of pesticide resistant weeds.
An article on France 24 deals with this at length.

Other crops are being contaminated, because Monsanto's engineered genes can readily migrate to non-GM crops.
Organic farms are increasingly finding that via cross-pollination their pure food has been contaminated with GM DNA thus ruining their businesses.

In 2002, Ontario farmer Alex Nurnberg had tests conducted on his 100-ton harvest of organic corn.
Twenty tons were found to be contaminated by GMOs, which he believes were blown by the wind from the corn on a neighboring farm.

There is also collateral damage.
As with other herbicides such as Atrazine, the use of Roundup has been linked to the decimation of frogs and bees worldwide.
This is truly unfortunate as it is estimated that a single frog can consume 10,000 garden/farm pests in a growing season, and bees are vital to our survival.

I took great care when I sprayed Liquid Derris Plus to avoid run-off into the drains around my patch so as not to hurt frogs.

As with chemical slug pellets getting into the food chain, this is of concern to me.
Birds and other creatures which naturally eat slugs – such as hedgehogs and frogs – which are some of our best allies in the battle against these pests, may also be harmed if they eat a slug which has been feeding on the bait – effectively taking the poison themselves.

Although the dose required to kill a slug is many times smaller than that to kill a hedgehog, over time the same hedgehog can eat a very large number of slugs!

There are various less toxic alternatives to traditional pellets available; including aluminium sulphate powders and iron phosphate.
There is also a wide selection of non-chemical methods to combat slugs, ranging from simple gravel barriers, through copper rings and beer traps to a variety of approaches to natural control.

There is no one ideal solution to controlling these persistent pests. For many gardeners, this means that there will be a place for traditional slug pellets, but knowing the risks – and being aware of the alternatives – should allow most of the problems to be avoided.

I do not think Monsanto are doing anything illegal, their job is to earn money for the corporation and its stockholders - but I do think the controls they impose on farmers are immoral.

I also avoided where I could buying hybrid plants, as these do not produce seed, and I think it would be nice to keep a plant strain going, and I believe we have a right to grow our own food, and if we choose to that in a sustainable way, by keeping seed for example, that should not - in my opinion - be subject to copyright.

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Thanks for commenting - its cool that you took the time