I found out about garlic spray the hard way. Ants had moved on to my young apple trees and were seemingly arranging the eggs of the aphids. To begin with we thought it was some sort of food store for the ants. We were kind of right.
Why do ants farm aphids?
Honeydew! It is a sweet secretion from the aphids. A bit grim but not as grim as the black mould that this honeydew also produces. This means that the aphids are feeding the ants twice. So not a bad deal for the ants. The black mould encourages all sorts of nasty diseases to spread amongst your plants as well. So not ideal, and I wanted to pounce on it straightaway.
How to control garden pests naturally
Don’t get me wrong you can still buy ready made pest control. A nice organic brand would be
Ecofective - plant defender as you can still eat any produce. I tend to make my own garlic spray. This is not a pleasant process and can make your eyes stream with the astringent odour. That is the plan at least!
How does garlic spray work?
basically that strong aroma which you have been hating since pouring the boiled water on, that is a confusingly strong smell. The ants will not be able to find their way back to what they were doing. So no more sorting the eggs and looking after them. They will be disorientated and go back to their nest. No ants will be killed and my wildlife can eat them without any ill effects.
Garlic Spray –
You will need
1.5 litres of just boiled water
1 bulb of garlic
It is as simple as crushing the garlic and adding the boiled water. I wait for around ten minutes before passing it through a sieve to get the large chunks out. Then pour into the sprayer.
The mistake I made with my garlic spray!
The smell when you are making this is quite over powering. This and my eagerness to stop the aphid farm was my downfall. I rushed outside with my mini spray bottle and started pumping, in a quite windy garden. I am now going to smell of garlic spray for the rest of my life. Think ‘bog of eternal stench’ proportions. So my top tip for this one would be go outside in the evening with no breeze and apply before washing your hands thoroughly!
So here is a little video I made of our first application of the garlic spray today…
In the video you can see our Potato Planter’s. I would be so upset if we found we had black spot on our potatoes due to evil ant farmers.
Alternatives to garlic spray and why I haven’t chosen them
You could use a heavy chemical spray form any local supermarket or garden centre. I guess in my lifetime they will be banned, but for now we sell them. I want a thriving eco system and will be taking delivery of our ex-battery hens soon. The ant will provide natural enrichment for them and poisoned ants mean poisoned chickens. So that is out of the question. I think from the start you guessed that ‘the mini smallholder’ wasn’t going to provide you with a link for chemicals which are linked to decline of bees.
This will kill all of the ants. You can buy food grade diatomaceous soil, but I would rather not even entertain the idea of killing bugs that live in my garden. It just feels wrong to me.
Someone recommended a grease collar around the bottom of the tree. The reason I haven’t done that is these little dudes below.
Other uses for garlic spray
Garlic spray can work to deter all sorts of pests, including whiteflies. aphids, ants, caterpillars and slugs. But a word of warning. Use twice a week in the dry period, more regularly in wet weather. Just apply to areas being affected by the pests as you may upset the good bugs too. Ladybirds cannot be harmed by it, but undoubtedly do not like it.
Introduce more natural predators
You can buy in an army of helpers in the form of
Live ladybirds-natural pest control which I have to say is tempting right now. You will need to make sure that you have plenty of natural habitats for them to live in happily and we have made numerous Luxury Bug Homes mainly because we have bug obsessed little people. Even with these we still need extra help! So something like this
looks really interesting!
Once we have re-homed our ex-battery hens you may even hear me complaining we don’t have enough ants to keep them occupied! I will let you know and update as we go!
Why chose Organic?
There are lots of reasons why you may chose organic.
- For us we want to eat our produce straight form the tree. We cannot do that if first we need to pop back inside and wash the chemicals off before ingesting what we have been using to kills the bad bugs.
- We want free range chickens to be able to eat the bugs form the garden. This would be passing on the poison down the food chain. When you think about creating wildlife habitats for other animals and then start to factor the poison in, there are inconsistencies. Have look at the charity Hogswatch to see ways in which using chemicals affects hedgehogs.
- Cost effective. There is no reason to spend huge amounts of money on chemical based solutions. Yes you can spend a lot on organic ones but you can also find homemade solutions to a lot of problems! We will be exploring more as and when needed.
- Nutritionally there wouldn’t be any difference at my home garden for organic and non-organic produce. But some research does seem to suggest that for larger farms this is not the case. The Soil Association has some great research on this subject.