by Rayanna Boodram PART 1
All plants are susceptible to pests and diseases. Climate change and agriculture are interrelated processes. Climate change can simply be defined as the long-term change in the earth’s climate.
With climate change constantly resulting in many different environmental effects, patterns of pest and disease also change. As farmers and owners of household ornamental or vegetable gardens, we are faced with the challenge of preventing and controlling pest and disease without the use of toxic chemicals which can be health risks to humans and beneficial/non-target organisms, and pollutants to the environment.
Insects are very harmful to gardens. They chew, bite and suck on plants causing damage to the leaves, stems and roots which overall decrease photosynthetic rate, inhibiting both growth and development of a plant. In addition, they are carriers of many plant diseases.
Some common insect pests that we face are thrips (Thysanoptera), whiteflies (Aleyrodidae), ants (Formicidae), mealybugs (Pseudococcidae) and scales (Coccoidea). We can control these pests by using simple tricks and ingredients that are organic and very effective.
Three popular sprays are:
Garlic and pepper spray—In a pot, simmer two heads of garlic (peel on) and three whole hot peppers (Scorpion/Moruga red or yellow) in one cup of water for five minutes just until the water is warm. Take off the heat and allow the garlic and peppers to diffuse for 24–48 hrs. Strain the mixture and add two tablespoons of soap or liquid detergent and four cups of water for dilution. Pour into a spray can/spray bottle and use generously on your plants. The potency of the ingredients makes this mixture excellent for control of whiteflies, thrips and ants. This can be stored for one week.
Basic oil spray—Mix two cups of vegetable oil with two tablespoons of soap, cover and shake thoroughly. Add three tablespoons of this mixture to one litre of water in a spray can/bottle and spray directly onto the surface of ants. The oil coat will suffocate the insect pest, blocking their pores thus making it difficult for them to breathe. This mixture is ideal for ants, mealy bugs and scales and can be stored for up to one month.
Neem spray—Neem is very popular for its medicinal properties. In pest and disease control, neem is very efficient for insect and fungal problems. Mix two tablespoons of neem oil, one teaspoon of peppermint oil and one teaspoon of rosemary oil with one gallon of water. Shake thoroughly, pour into a spray can/spray bottle and use generously on your plants. Another version is to add two tablespoons of neem oil to one tablespoon of liquid soap to one gallon of water, shake and apply. Both mixtures can be stored for up to one month.
In addition to these sprays, for further pest control, marigolds (Tagetes), culantro or ‘chadon beni’ (Eryngium foetidum) and neem tree (Azadirachta indica) also possess high insect-repellent properties which can be integrated into your garden. I hope you try these at home!
Send questions to Rayanna: firstname.lastname@example.org
Chew, Peter. 2018. “Scale Insects, Soft Scales, Wax Scales – Family Coccidae”. Brisbaneinsects.Com. http://www.brisbaneinsects.com/brisbane_softbugs/ScaleInsect.htm.
Hernandez, James, and James Hernandez. 2018. “Natural Remedy For Mealybugs”. Mothernaturealliance.Blogspot.Com. http://mothernaturealliance.blogspot.com/2016/04/natural-remedy-for-mealybugs.html.
“How Leafcutter Ants Evolved From Farmers Into Cows”. 2018. Phenomena. http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2012/12/27/how-leafcutter-ants-evolved-from-farmers-into-cows/.
“How To Control Thrips | Solutions Pest & Lawn”. 2018. Solutions Pest & Lawn. https://www.solutionsstores.com/thrip-control.
“How To Control Whiteflies | Planet Natural”. 2018. Planet Natural. https://www.planetnatural.com/pest-problem-solver/houseplant-pests/whitefly-control/.