Pests are organisms that can damage and weaken a plant, potentially reducing their availability and quality of the food that will ultimately come to our table. If your plants are diseased or that are getting damaged by pests, then your garden ecosystem is out of balance. In permaculture, we aim to grow nutrient-dense, health organic best practice foods. Still, there are times when we have, or something from outside our system has unbalanced it, and we need to do something to remedy this imbalance and learn from the feedback given. There are times we need to let nature take it course and sometimes we have a responsibility to intervene or lose everything we have tried to achieve.
Pesticides from "nature."
An insecticide is a substance that disrupts or kills organisms that we consider to be pests such as weeds, damaging insects, or microbes that cause disease. Natural insecticides are pesticides that are derived from a natural source such as a mineral or plant.
Most people believe that natural pesticides are always safer and more eco-friendly than man-made pesticides. While this is mostly true, it is not always so.
Natural pesticides are much safer and more eco-friendly than conventional pesticides. As they are also very effective, natural pesticides should be your first choice for your home and garden pest balancing needs.
Natural pesticides are eco-friendly, safer for the user, and very effective when used correctly, though it may require more frequent application if necessary
Below are some of the use on our site if absolutely necessary.
There is a downloadable PDF at the bottom for your convenience
An all purpose pest repellent and fungicide. Spray daily for heavy infestations
Ingredients: 1 onion, 1 tablespoon of cayenne pepper, 1 garlic bulb.
Chop or grind ingredients. Steep overnight and strain. Dilute to 1 part in five of water.
A spray to chase away or kill aphids, maggots, mealy bugs, red spider mites and whitefly
Ingredients: 2 tablespoons of laundry soap, 1 litre water.
Mix and leave standing until dissolved. Strain. Add a teaspoon of mineral oil (or kerosene) for big infestations. Add soap to other sprays to make sure they cling to leaves, especially to undersides.
Repels: aphids, cabbage white butterfly, bean fly, caterpillars, mosquitoes, snails, wireworm.
Checks: leaf curl, brown rot, downy mildew, leafspot, bean rust
Ingredients: 90g garlic bulbs, 2 teaspoons of kerosene, 600ml water, 20g pure soap
Soak for 24/48 hours and then add water with dissolved soap. Stir and strain through gauze and store in a glass container (non metallic). Dilute to 1 part in 20 of water
Garlic and Chilli spray
Treats similar conditions to garlic but is more potent
Ingredients: 10 cloves of garlic, 5-5 hot chillies, 2-3 onions.
Boil, store in a glass container, and stand overnight. To use, mix 1 small cup in 10l of water; add a little liquid soap or milk to adhere. For curl leaf, spray everyday for about a week.
Spray several times for blight on potatoes and tomatoes, for apple scab, curl leaf, powder mildew, aphids and red spider mites.
Double the amount of water as onions. Grind onions alone or with chives/ onion tops in blender, then simmer ingredients on stove for 2 hours.
Dilute 1 part in 20 of water.
For: scab and mildew
Ingredients: 50ml of boiling water, 1 tablespoon of chives.
Mix and leave for 1 hour and strain. Dilute with 2 parts water
Checks virus diseases like tomato mosaic and kills red spider mites, caterpillars and tomato worms.
Ingredients: milk/sour milk, nine parts of water.
Dilute milk with water.
This spray destroys adult spider mites and their eggs, which are enveloped in a sticky mixture and suffocate.
Ingredients: 1 tablespoon of butter milk, ½ cup of flour, 2 l of water.
Mix all together
Baking Soda Spray
For rusts and mildews
Ingredients: 100g of baking soda, 3 litres of water, 50g soap.
Wide spectrum insecticide – use with caution
Especially good for Aphids.
Ingredients: 2 tablespoons of flower heads, 2 litres of hot water.
Make tea with flower heads and add a little dissolved soap to improve consistency. Or grind flower heads and add to water. Let stand for one hour.
Spray in the evening against – aphids, caterpillars, leafhoppers, mites and thrips, mildew and scab
Spray to repel aphids, black flea, beetles, flies, white cabbage moth, butterflies and slugs.
Note: wormwood contains a toxic substance called absinthian.
Ingredients: 1 litre of boiling water, a handful of wormwood.
Mix all together and let stand until cool. Strain
Cabbage Grub Dust
Dust plants to kill all kinds of cabbage grubs.
Ingredients: 2 handful of wood ash, 2 handfuls of flour, ½ cup of salt.
Mix all together
For spraying on plants with leaves yellowing as they have been attacked by a virus. Such plants are deficient in magnesium which has been ‘locked up’ by overuse of wood ash, lime or phosphorus.
Ingredients: 50g of Epsom salts (magnesium sulphate), 4 litres of water.
Dissolve salts in water.
I have had a lot of questions about the things we do month by month to help not only maintain but add to our system.
While the best time to have ‘planted a tree’ was 20 years ago, the next best time to start is now.
Each little thing we do can and will help increase our ability to build resilient, regenerative and abundant lives.
Let’s Make It Real -
Here is our March garden to-do list. We hope it helps you in your endeavors
Downloadable file attached at the bottom
To Do List
•Apply compost to your gardens
•Make a compost
•Check plants for fungal diseases and treat as needed
•Time to plant your trees for the year
•As trees start to lose their leaves, gather and make leafmold
•Foliar feed trees and potager
•Sow seeds for April planting
•Plant out chosen flowers for beneficial insects
•Time to cut back perennials that have finished flowering
•Time to plant in containers to give them a good start before winter
•Take cuttings of perennial herbs
•Harvest macadamias and pecans
•Take Mulberry cuttings
What To Plant
Amaranth, Broad Beans, Beetroot, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage, Carrot,
Cauliflower, Chives, Coriander , Endive, Florence Fennel, Kale, Kohlrabi , Leeks
Lettuce, Mustard greens, Oregano, Pak choy, Parsley, Radish, Rocket, Silver beet
"We're heading for 1.5 C (2.7 F) of global warming by 2030, due to burning fossil fuels, deforestation and agriculture. The result is more droughts, floods, wildfires, heatwaves and hurricanes. This prompts the question 'What can I actually do?'. The answer is simple: 'Commit to positive action now'."
Do an audit of your own climate impact and adapt accordingly.
Climate – Weather pattern over time, the general pattern of temperature, moisture, wind and sunshine is a particular area.
Microclimate – The climate of a very small or restricted area, mainly when this differs from the environment of the surrounding area.
Climate Change – More rapid changes in both global and local climates entailing increasing severity of weather patterns (not merely general warming).
"The hardest climate to change is that of the mind" - Darren Doherty
There is no topic more discussed at the moment than the climate and weather.
Weather and climate risk is a vast and complex subject, and we, as a species, have not responded to complexity well. One of the biggest challenges we currently face is to recognise the complexity of climate while at the same time, implement practical strategies of adapting and managing the impact of weather and climate and, hopefully, to regenerate for future generations.
"We're not designing, for now, we're designing for 20, 30, 500 years and looking at the patterns of the weather, climate, landscape and our own behaviour."
Typically, when we design for ourselves or a client, it is from the perspective of that point in time. While we try to think of that 20/30/500-year timeframe, it can be only a poor shadow of reality – the limitation of a 'master plan'.
We need to be adaptive in our thinking and our outcomes because, we do not really know what is coming. At best, it is an excellent educated guess.
Before discussing some practical tools for evaluating the land, it is important to emphasise that the most successful people looking at designing their area, spend time listening to the earth. In other words, learning directly from the opportunities and limits a property has to offer. It is better to match a given enterprise to the land, rather than try and work to shape the area to match the system. This is the underlying idea behind the scale of permanence.
The scale of permanence is a tool created by farmer and engineer PA Yeomans in Australia in the 1950s as part of an organising framework he called keyline design. The scale was the backbone of this system for whole-farm planning, and was initially dictated as:
The idea is that, as one moves down the list, the elements of a system become less permanent; that is, they take less energy to change and are less permanent as a factor for planning.
More recently, permaculture designers Dave Jacke and Eric Toensmeier, as well as Darren Doherty and Dan Palmer from VEG, have also adopted the idea of the scale of permanence into different variation.
Regardless of the variation, each begins with looking at climate. The most permanent element we are looking at in design and our landscape. It is easy, however, to fall into the trap of just looking at averages. Accessing the data and just looking at the average means we are designing for the norm, not for extremes and while things will flourish in those times, it is on the edges, the extremes, where we need to be at if we are truly to become resilient, regenerative and abundant.
One of the biggest things I have personally have done over in the last seven years to help with our climate impact was, interestingly enough, move. We had a larger property which was developed over time. We grew most all of our fruit and vegetables, had chickens and lived the 'sustainable lifestyle' or so we thought.
Yet the input in times of stress was immense. Travelling to get mulch or hay was not an easy prospect – a minimum of 40 minutes round trip, then the kids started school, then there were other activities. To do anything required a vehicle. Even a trip to the hospital, doctor or the library was an adventure due to the tyranny of distance.
So we moved. With an uncompromising list in hand, we began our search. High on that list was access to public transport, as much as we could within walking distance, good soils, fire risk, most of the yard in the back with a NE aspect, downsizing in land size but still wanted a rural feel. There was a lot more on the list but needless to say we found our ideal.
While already having existing infrastructure (House, shed, tanks and a few trees) pretty much a blank slate. Going through the design process, coming up with an adaptable working plan, we have since put in extensive gardens, planted about 160 trees as well as subtly adjusting some aspects of my landscape to hold more water.
Not everything has been rosy . I fell into this trap of complacency recently with one of my forest gardens. Without thinking, I had designed it for the average and when things got tough in the recent 12 months, it to suffer. The fault was not in the system but in the design. Going back over it and really looking at the figures showed me the flaw was and I was able to rectify the design with some simple adjustments with a shovel. Once done the next rainfall event, while only 20mm made a massive difference to the system.
Also, with the ongoing drought the ground covers here (and to be honest, everywhere around here) had died off. With the temperatures rising (and I will freely admit to missing the feeling of cover beneath my feet) I started using the grey water on the exposed soil, mixed with a number of 'witchy brews' (biology) that rapidly brought back a living cover over the soil between the house and the shed. And while yes, it is currently grass (I am not going to ignore succession) it proliferated in that space and has had the effect of dropping the temperature between 10-15 degrees.
This has, in turn, lowered the temperature of the house. Add to this the fact the way the shed and building are facing and the distance between creates a venturi effect in the summer months which channel the breeze through that space dropping, the temperature further is an added bonus
There is always something to do and always something to learn.
Some take homes:
Your local council website for localised data and services offered in your community
Carbon foot print
Climate data (rain, wind, temperature, frost)
Type “climatology *your local weather station* and it should come up with the data for your local area from BoM
Property risk assessment – MLA
It has hairy, long, slender ribbed leaves that form 1 or more rosettes from which emerge long, slender flowering stems carrying dense, brown, cylindrical seed heads that often have white anthers sticking out of them from October to March or in July. Has a long Taproot.
As A Soil Indicator:
Very low Calcium, High Phosphorous, Very high Potassium, High Manganese, Very high Magnesium, High Iron, High Sulfate, High Copper, High Boron, High Chlorine, High Selenium, Very little organic matter.
Annual, biennial or perennial. Germination occurs mainly in the autumn and winter. More abundant in the higher rainfall areas.
Palatable fodder while other fodder is limited, Insectary, Nectary, May eat young leaves as a spinach.
Host for some plant diseases. Host plant for light brown apple moth
May cause hay fever. May have a mild laxative effect
A many branched annual to perennial shrub or small tree to 3 metres tall with stalked, large leaves with 5-9 finger like lobes and softly spiny capsules. It has yellow male flowers below the reddish female flowers from spring to autumn.
As A Soil Indicator:
Low Calcium, Very low Potassium, Very high phosphate, Very high Magnesium, High Manganese, High Iron, High Sodium, High Copper, Very little organic matter.
Annual biennial or perennial. Germinates from autumn to spring and grows quickly. They may reach a height of several metres in their first year. Flowers from August-March depending on the area. Seed may be set in the first year. Growth slows or the plants die in winter. Surviving plants commence rapid growth in spring. It behaves as an annual in frosty areas.
Castor oil extracted from the seeds for a lubricant and hydraulic fluids because its viscosity is stable as temperature increases.
Seeds contain ricin and are poisonous to stock and poultry and humans. Seeds are very toxic to humans and 6-8 seeds may cause death.
Seeds produce an allergic reaction in skin. Cases of poisoning in the field are rare. Horses are most sensitive followed by sheep, cattle and pigs and poultry are the least sensitive. Seeds and oil can be made safe by heating to 500C or more.
Blackberry is a semi deciduous, perennial shrub with scrambling, arching, prickly stems (canes) that may form dense, tangled thickets to 4 m high. The stems take root where they touch the ground, often forming dense thickets. The broad leaves are 3-15 cm long and divided into 3-5 toothed leaflets.
As A Soil Indicator:
Very low Calcium, Low Potassium, High phosphate, High Magnesium, High Manganese, High Iron, Very little organic matter. More abundant on fertile soils
Perennial. Flowers November to January. Fruits January to April. Seeds germinate from spring to autumn and grow very slowly in the first year usually reaching 50-70 mm height with 3-6 leaves but have a disproportionately large root system. After 3 or 4 years, they develop into a shrub about 1000 mm round. In winter they loose most of their leaves and grow very slowly. In spring and summer they produce new leaves and canes quickly. First year canes emerge, in late winter, from the central crown that may be up to 200 mm round. The first year canes grow very quickly at 50-80 mm per day.
Blackberries are picked for food, preserves, jam, pies, wine, liqueurs. Leaves are used as a tea substitute. Canes are used for securing thatch. Fruit is rich in vitamin C. Pollen and honey are produced from it.
It has been used as a hedge plant and for controlling stream bank erosion.
Provide a refuge from feral cats for native birds.
Used in herbal medicine for coughs, diarrhea and blood cleansing..
Invades pasture land and blocks creeks and rivers. Reduces access to amenity areas and streams. Form impenetrable thickets that harbours vermin such as foxes and rabbits. Old infestations can be a serious fire hazard due to the large number of old dead canes. Sheep can become entangled in the canes and die. Very few companion plants survive in the thickets. It delays or prevents regeneration of forests after thinning or cutting.
A tall, relatively hairless perennial grass with broad, long leaves with a prominent midrib underneath, jagged membranous ligule and erect stout stems arising from a creeping, rooting, scaly rhizome. It produces a purplish-brown pyramidal, seed head about 25 cm long in summer. It is listed as one of the 10 worst weeds in the world
As A Soil Indicator:
Very low Calcium, Very high phosphate, Very high Magnesium, High Manganese, High Iron, Very high Sulphur, High Copper, High Zinc, Very high Boron, High Chlorine, High Selenium, Aluminum, High Salt, Very little organic matter, Anaerobic bacteria, Prefers damp soils.
Perennial. Flowers November to June. Seeds germinate in spring to early summer. Initially top growth is slow as roots and rhizome develops. Flowering commences about 7 weeks after germination. After flowering the rhizome grows quickly. Flowering is continuous over the summer with a peak in early and late summer. Rhizomes dormant over winter. Top growth dies after frosts in winter. New shoots emerge from rhizomes in spring. Shoots from rhizomes emerge earlier and grow faster than those from seed. Rhizomes are short-lived and are produced in one season, sprout in the next season to form a new plant then die as new rhizomes are formed.
Aggressive weed, Crosses with sorghum producing weedy biotypes.
Toxic when stressed, frosted, wilted or stunted. Cattle, sheep and pigs have been poisoned in Australia. Cattle appear to suffer the worst losses. It may also contain toxic levels of nitrate and cause nitrate poisoning especially during periods of vigorous growth
SO FAR as we are able to determine this is the first book to be written in praise of weeds. According to Joseph Cocannouer, weeds -- the common ragweeds, pigweeds, pusleys and nettles, to mention four -- perform the following valuable services among others:
1. They bring minerals, especially those which have been depleted, up from the subsoil to the topsoil and make them available to crops. This is particularly important with regard to trace elements.
2.When used in crop rotation they break up hardpans and allow subsequent crop roots to feed deeply.
3. They fiberize and condition the soil and provide a good environment for the minute but important animal and plant life that make any soil productive.
4. They are good indicators of soil condition, both as to variety of weed present and to condition of the individual plant. Certain weeds appear when certain deficiencies occur.
5. Weeds are deep divers and feeders and through soil capillarity they enable the less hardy, surface feeding crops to withstand drought better than the crop alone could.
6. As companion crops they enable our domesticated plants to get their roots to otherwise unavailable food.
7. Weeds store up minerals and nutrients that would be washed, blown or leached away from bare ground and keep them readily available.
8. Weeds make good eating -- for man as well as for livestock. The publisher can vouch for the superiority of lamb's quarter -- a favorite of the author -- over any other domestic form of spinach or cooked greens.
No, Professor Cocannouer does not believe that weeds should be allowed to go rampant and take over our farms and gardens. The function of this book, a pioneering work, is to demonstrate how the controlled use of weeds can be sound ecology, good conservation and a boon to the average farmer or gardener.
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(From the Introduction)
A bristly, annual or biennial (lasting 2 years) herb with a rosette or deeply divided leaves with toothed margins with a much larger rounded terminal lobe that grows to 90cm high. The stems are wiry with pale yellow terminal flowers.
As A Soil Indicator:
Very low Calcium, Low Potassium, Very high phosphate, Very high Magnesium, Very low Manganese, High Iron, High Sulphur, High Copper, High Zinc, High Boron, High Chlorine, High Selenium, High Salt, Very little organic matter, Anaerobic bacteria, Prefers damp soils.
Annual or biennial. Seeds germinate mainly in autumn with some in spring. It forms a rosette of leaves over winter and sends up a branched flowering stem in spring. It usually dies off in summer but some plants in moist conditions may survive into their second season.
Nectary plant. Leaves and shoots edible. Used in herbal medicine for colds and chest complaints
May taint milk. Relatively unpalatable
Not recorded as toxic
A rapid growing, finely hairy, climbing perennial vine with purple-blue, bell shaped flowers at most times of the year with a flush from November to April. Unlike many of the other morning glory species, it is mainly a weed of agricultural areas and disturbed sites (e.g. crops, roadsides, parks, gardens, fence-lines and waste areas). However, it also invades bushland and riparian areas and can be a serious environmental weed in warm moist areas, where it chokes out native plants.
As A Soil Indicator:
Very low Calcium, Very low Potassium, Very low phosphate, High Magnesium, High Iron, Very high Sulphur, High Copper, High Zinc, High Boron, High Selenium Very little organic matter, Anaerobic bacteria, Prefers damp soils.
Perennial. Widely naturalised in the warmer parts of eastern Australia (i.e. eastern Queensland and the coastal districts of New South Wales).
Ornamental and medicinal uses. Leaves reported to be used as pig food. Seeds are strongly purgative.
Vigorous fast growing. Once established it is difficult to control
Not recorded as toxic