Before reaching for an insect spray or a plant remedy, try to determine if an insect is eating the plant or if the plant is diseased. Applying a pesticide can expose us to immediate or long-term health risks. Studies have linked pesticide exposure to an increased risk of Parkinson's disease not only among those who work on farms, but even in persons who live near sprayed fields.
Another study found a relationship between exposure to pesticides in our food and environment and the development of type 2 diabetes. They found that pollutants tended to concentrate in body fat.
The Melaleuca Wellness Guide has a chapter entitled: "Healthy Garden Solutions." This chapter is based on suggestions shared by our readers:
Note: When using any kind of spray, test the results by spraying a few leaves and waiting a couple of days to see if any damage occurs. To prevent damage, avoid applying sprays during the heat of the day. Irrigate drought-stressed plants thoroughly before applying any kind of spray. Since soft body insects like aphids and thrips are killed on contact, after applying a spray, rinse with water. Oil sprays should not be used on Blue Spruces. Citrus are also sensitive to oil sprays. Your Cooperative Extension Agent can recommend spraying times for citrus.
Roses ⁃ Black spot, rust, and powdery mildew are three different diseases caused by fungal infections. Try spraying diluted Sol-U-Mel on affected leaves.
If you notice the first rose flowers of spring tinged with brown edges, the culprits might be thrips. Thrips are tiny, slender, difficult-to-see little insects that cause brown edges on flower buds. Roses and peonies can be affected. Spray diluted Tough & Tender on affected flower buds. Rinse with fresh water.
Aphids are soft body insects that suck plant juices. You will usually find them on new growth. Over- fertilizing can make for lots of tender new growth that attracts aphids. Spray with diluted Tough & Tender and rinse off with water. Natural predators such as lady bugs eat aphids.
Black Sooty Mold on Elm trees, or other susceptible trees, can be reduced by spraying Sol-U-Mel high into the tree. If needed, use a power sprayer. Black sooty mold is usually caused by aphid secretions as they feed on leaves. The aphids produce sticky "honeydew" that sometimes turns black. If you happen to park your car under an affected tree you will notice the sticky substance on your vehicle. You might also notice ants because they harvest the honeydew. Sometimes the honeydew dripping is caused by scale insects. Scale insects are harder to remove. But Sol-U-Mel should help as the scale insect does have periods of time before it forms its hard scale when it is more vulnerable to safer solutions.
Ants can be killed with PreSpot, Sol-U-Mel or Tough & Tender. If ants are making a little trail into your home, sometimes just dusting them with clove spice or dropping mint leaves on their trail will cause them to decide your home is not so attractive after all. In the yard, repeatedly spraying water on them can make them decide to move to another part of the yard. If you have fire ants, to kill them mix the following into a two gallon bucket of water: 1 capful of Tough & Tender, 1 capful of MelaMagic, 1 capful of Sol-U-Mel, 1 capful of Tub & Tile, and always 10 drops of Lemon Brite. Stir and pour half of the bucket on the fire ant bed. Wait 30 minutes and pour on the other half. This kills them "dead" and they won't come back.
Zinnias are prone to powdery white patches caused by powdery mildew. Give zinnias good air circulation and avoid watering them from above. If affected by powdery mildew, spray diluted Sol-U-Mel directly on the leaves of your zinnias. They will usually show improvement in one day.
Ninety percent of insects are good bugs. Beneficial insects help keep pests from causing damage. To attract and maintain a population of beneficial insects we need flowers like yarrows, dill, and cilantro which provide nectar and pollen. Planting fragrant plants such as herbs, marigolds, and nasturtiums help confuse and repel pests.
Some bugs, like squash bugs can be easily picked off plants, hopefully before they mate and multiply. MNN.com shows bug pictures and a bit of bug-education. Learning to identify good bugs versus pesky bugs can help you maintain a safe and healthy garden. And if you have children, this knowledge can be fun and a foundation for them in organic gardening.
A spray bottle of Tough & Tender and Sol-U-Mel along with common sense and a bit of patience can result in a healthy productive garden.
~ Richard M Barry
The Melaleuca Wellness Guide
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Healthy Garden Testimonials
The people below will receive a free copy of The Melaleuca Wellness Guide for submitting their stories.
I have many perennial plants around our home. After returning home from a week's vacation last summer, my Hosta plants were all infected with a little red bug. I came in the house and looked in my Wellness Guide. As advised, I grabbed my bottle of Tough & Tender spray and went to work spraying my Hosta plants. The bugs were eating holes in my plants. The next day, the bugs were ALL GONE! My Hostas had no damage from the Tough & Tender and were beautiful the rest of the summer! THANK you Melaleuca and RM Barry Publications!
I have lots of roses, about 40 plants, and other than feeding the roses with healthy soil additives like manure, alfalfa pellets, banana peels and fertilizers, I just use Tough & Tender. In the spring I used to notice the first flowers on some roses were brownish. I discovered they were thrips... so tiny you can barely see them. The Melaleuca Wellness Guide recommends Tough & Tender. One spray with Tough & Tender takes care of them. Now when the roses are setting their first blooms I go around early in the morning and as I admire them I give them a quick spray. My roses are beautiful and healthy. I only need to do this one time in the spring.
Ants will appear here and there in the garden. I try not to kill anything, but ants can be a problem. I've used PreSpot, Sol-U-Mel or Tough & Tender on the ants. A bucket of water with a bit of product is usually enough to discourage their presence.