Hamish Sloan
Wed, 12 Feb 2003 02:41:35 PST
Mary Sue wrote:

"I'm eager for aphid control stories too especially if anyone has some
reliable ones that don't involve heavy duty poison control. I've used
things like pyrola and neem when I first have discovered aphids every year
and neither gives as good control as I would like. The neem didn't seem to
phase them."

What are pyrola and neem?

We are having problems with garden insecticides, fungicides, etc. this side 
of the pond because of a recent EU directive requiring registration of all 
such materials for agricultural or horticultural use. The large 
registration fee (about ?100,000 if I remember correctly, but I may be 
exaggerating as I am anti EU bureaucratic ------------ (insert word here 
that insults a bull)) has put off many suppliers registering sprays for 
home gardeners. The cost is not justified by the relatively small sales 
levels and they are disappearing from the shelves of our garden suppliers.

So for a real killer, I'll have to go back to that natural source tobacco 
and extract the nicotine. We still have derris and pyrethrum but they are 
not strong enough for some situations.

A dilute solution of washing up liquid may be effective for aphis and 
caterpillars, parrticularly early in the season and while infestations are 
light, but try it carefully first. Some of these washing up liquids have 
many constituents and the formulations change from time to time. 
Concentration in water at about the same level as you use for washing up 
the dishes.

(Sexist joke for you, Cathy. Quiz master in TV show: " What will you do 
with your prize money? Buy a new dishwasher perhaps?" Male contestant: "No, 
we don't need a new dishwasher. I AM the dishwasher.")

Home Made Nicotine Insecticide

Note: Both this and the next recipe can be a bit smelly in the making. Do 
it in the garden shed or outside if you are in one of those sunny places. 
Choose the wind direction appropriately.

Soft Soap 1 pound (we have a proprietary soft soap here called Swarfega 
that would do, but there are cheaper brands around that will be good 
enough. Don't use washing up liquid. I've not tried it instead of soft soap 
but I suspect the high concentration needed and the presence of cationic 
surfactants as well as anionic ones may give undesired results, i.e., dead 

Tobacco 4 ounces (any cured tobacco will do, even cigarette ends. The best 
I know, because it has more nicotine, is pipe smokers shag. I would imagine 
that western chewing tobacco would be good stuff - go on, surprise your 
local store!)

Cut up the tobacco first, if necessary. Boil the tobacco in 2 gallons water 
for two hours; just keep it simmering as if you were making jam and 
maintain the volume at two gallons. Strain through an old piece of cloth 
such as a pajama leg knotted at the bottom. Gently boil the clear solution 
with the soft soap until completely dispersed. Bottle the mixture as it 
will keep for years - it is too poisonous for bacteria.

To spray, use one part of this mixture to four parts water. [Part of the 
effectiveness of this recipe probably lies in the detergent action of the 
soft soap.] As nicotine is poisonous, don't use it on your fruit and 
vegetables unless there is going to be a good rain to wash it away. Even 
without the nicotine the soft soap isn't very tasty either. (Does all this 
put you off smoking?)

Quassia Spray

If you can get hold of any quassia wood chips, this spray is good against 
aphis, caterpillars and Gooseberry sawfly. However, don't use it on your 
leaf vegetables - cabbage, brussels, spinach, etc. as it can give a bitter 
taste. It won't hurt, it's not poisonous to humans, birds or other animals 
but ... yuck. The bitterness will keep the birds off fruit buds in Spring.

Boil 0.5 pound quassia wood chips vigorously with 1 gallon water for two 
hours. Add more water as the it boils away to keep the volume at the 1 
gallon mark. Strain through your pajama leg (without your leg inside it, of 
course). Add 1 ounce ordinary soap, boil till it dissolves, bottle, store 
as long as you like.

Use 1 part mixture to 5 parts water as your spray.


Regards to all
Hamish Sloan

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