Did I say SLOW boil?? In two days, the temperature has become as hot as my first red chilli! Even though I'm resisting using the air conditioners, it won't be long before I give in. It's already so toasty, the water in the taps comes out hot! I'm writing this from my rooftop office which, even with all the doors open, is the consistency of a sauna.
So in my quest to take back the terrace garden... I've just expanded my organic pest control arsenal and wanted to share tips with any of you losing the war against mealy bugs and the like.
All three tips require almost no effort, little cash and are super effective if you're an organic gardener like me (or more accurately, striving to be one!)
You should check this advice against your climate and soil type, as in London I was expressly told not to use too much ash in the garden - you can put a bit on compost heaps and freshly dug ground to add trace elements of potassium, and it's useful to condition soil that is too acidic. But too much could hurt plants that like acidity (fruits, heathers, rhododendrons, azaleas) and it also has salts that can damage plants.
TIP 2: Neem oil, the SUPER insecticide! Neem is an Indian tree known for its completely natural anti-septic, anti-fungal, pest repellent properties. Some people here eat a few tender new leaves of neem every morning, claiming it helps with everything from acne to diabetes. Personally, I'm not in favor of self-medicating and I think you MUST check with a nutritionist for advice before you try new, powerful natural products like neem. But as plant food and pest protector, it's amazing!! The viscuous, yellow oil is very smelly. Diluted and sprayed onto plants, it kills on contact. It's freely available in India (I spent about $7 for a one liter container). Neem oil is sold outside India by many organic and natural products retailers... I've even seen neem oil on Amazon! So give it a try! It works for lice, ants, aphids, mystery bugs and more! Here in India, a neem based soil additive also helps protect against pests underground!
- Crush a handful of garlic and green or red chilly.
- Add a cup of water and leave in a plastic container to ferment for a couple of days
- Strain, add 10 times the volume of water to dilute.
- Spray away! Even authentic Punjabi pests will find it too spicy!
...In the next few days, my spring pick me ups, including no-soap face wash that you can make at home... a very Indian potato salad recipe for picnics... and all you ever wanted to know about growing, enjoying and even drinking the Kohinoor of all fragrant flowers, Arabian Jasmine (or mogra)!!