Categories
Indoor Gardening Maintenance

Recycle Used Coffee Grounds By Using It As Fertilizer

Why used coffee grounds?

Without a doubt, you should start using used coffee grounds in your potting mix and indoor plants as it can be greatly beneficial to your indoor potted plants. Used grounds are high in nitrogen and nutrients which improves the fertility of the soil. Also, the smell of coffee is said to ward off and kill garden pests like slugs, caterpillars and even cats. The antimicrobial properties found inside used coffee grounds also benefits plants by preventing diseases in vegetables and other crops. Do not use freshly ground coffee beans or whole coffee beans as caffeine can affect your beloved plants in a disastrous way. It can suppress plant growth and cause your plant to die. Used grounds, however, have a much lower caffeine level and are much safer to incorporate.

Recycle used coffee ground as fertiliser for your plants.

How to incorporate?

To add coffee grounds to your soil, you can easily incorporate your coffee waste into your compost bin. You can add up to twenty percent used grounds into your compost’s total volume. Adding too much recycled grounds into your compost will compromise the ability for microbes to breakdown organic matter. Conversely, adding too little will limit the effect the grounds will have on your compost and further, your plants.

You can spread a thin layer of the coffee grounds onto the surface of the soil. Apply approximately half an inch to the top of the pot along with a layer of mulch or compost. Avoid adding a thick layer of coffee grounds. This will create a barrier that won’t allow air or water properly penetrate the soil.

Check our article on DIY potting mix to create your own potting mix to suit different plant types. Try incorporating recycled grounds to them as a natural and zero-waste fertilizer alternative.

Categories
Indoor Gardening Maintenance Outdoor Gardening

DIY Potting Mix Recipes For Different Plant Types

DIY potting mix recipes consist of a combination of ‘ingredients’ that provide the substrate required for your plant while adding nutrients and moisture that allow for plant growth. Comparatively, the all-purpose potting mix doesn’t always work best because it isn’t necessarily suited to the type of plant you are trying to grow. Of course, it is important to use different types of potting mix for the various types of plants you own as they require different levels of humidity, nutrition and water retention. Additionally, buying your own potting mix ingredients in bulk saves money and ensures that you always have a potting mix on hand for the type of plants you are housing.

Why use potting mix?

Potting mix compared to traditional garden soil is airy and light which allows the roots to grow easily and enable them to breathe. Potting mixes are more long-lasting than soil as they are less compacted and break down at a slower rate. The blend of ingredients in a potting mix also ensures that water is retained for a longer amount of time within the pot and contains some nutrients to sustain the plant without having to use liquid fertilizer as frequently.

What ingredients do I need to start my DIY potting mix recipes?

Different blends of potting mixes contain generally the same types of ‘ingredients’ at different ratios. The most popular types of potting mix ingredients include:

Sphagnum Peat Moss

Sphagnum peat moss is often used as the base ingredient of potting mix recipes as it requires a longer amount of time to breakdown while ensuring that the mix is well-draining and aerated. It is also a cheap ingredient and retains moisture to ensure the plant has time to absorb water through its roots.

Coir Fibre

Coir fibre holds more nutrients than sphagnum peat moss and takes an even longer amount of time to break down but comes at a higher cost. You can often find coir fibre sold in compacted locks that need water added to them in order to expand and be useable as part of your potting mix. Coir fibre is more environmentally responsible than sphagnum peat moss as it is long-lasting and a renewable resource as it is made as a by-product of the coconut processing industry.

Perlite

Perlite is used for its porous properties which improve drainage while not adding weight to the mix. Additionally, it has a larger surface area which benefits indoor plants that require a high humidity level.

Vermiculite

Vermiculite, like perlite, improves the porosity of the potting mix but also adds calcium and magnesium to the mix. It occurs as a natural volcanic mineral. It also retains moisture and nutrients which feeds the plants and maximizes growth.

Sand

Coarse sand is also used to increase the drainage of the potting mix but also adds weight. Succulent potting mixes therefore often have a high ratio of coarse sand in its recipe.

Limestone

Limestone is used to neutralize the pH of the soil. Adding limestone to potting mix increases the structure of the soil and encourages nutrient absorption into both the soil and the plant.

Fertilizers

Fertilizers are added to the potting mix to increase the nutrient intake of the plant in order for it to grow. They can consist of minerals, animal by-products, manure, and plant materials. Worm casting or vermicast are often used as a fertilizer as it holds and supplies nutrients while retaining water.

Mulch/Wood Chips

Wood chips and mulch can be used to allow air and water to travel through the mix. Wood chips also repel pests, control weeds while breaking down at a slower rate.

Compost

Compost can be used to increase water retention and nutrients in the mix.

What equipment do you need?

To start your potting mix project, collect the following items:

  1. Measuring container
  2. Mixing tub/bucket
  3. Watering can
  4. Shovel/fork/trowel
  5. Sieve
  6. Water container
  7. Your ingredients

Additionally, we have compiled a list of 5 different types of DIY potting mix recipes you may need for your home and garden.

  1. Indoors Plants
  2. Succulents and Cacti
  3. Tropical Plants
  4. Growing Seeds
  5. Trees and Shrubs

DIY Potting Mix Recipe For Indoor Plants

  • 2 kilograms of sphagnum peat moss or coir fiber
  • 1.5 kilograms of perlite
  • 250 grams of coarse sand
  • 10 grams of limestone
  • 10 grams of fertilizer

DIY Potting Mix Recipe For Succulents and Cacti

  • 3 kilograms of sphagnum peat moss or coir fiber
  • 2 kilograms of coarse sand
  • 1 kilogram of perlite
  • 1 kilogram of vermiculite
  • 10 grams of limestone

DIY Potting Mix Recipe For Tropical Plants

  • 6 kilograms of sphagnum peat moss or coir fiber
  • 6 kilograms of compost
  • 4.5 kilograms of perlite
  • 60 grams of fertilizer
  • 10 grams of lime

DIY Potting Mix Recipe For Growing Seeds

  • 2 kilograms of sphagnum peat moss or coir fiber
  • 2 kilograms of vermiculite
  • 1 kilogram of coarse sand
  • 10 grams of limestone

DIY Potting Mix For Recipe Trees and Shrubs

  • 3 kilograms of compost
  • 3000 grams of perlite
  • 3 kilograms of sphagnum peat moss or coir fiber
  • 2.5 kilograms of wood chips or mulch
  • 2.5 kilograms of coarse sand
  • 300 grams of fertilizer
  • 10 grams of limestone
Categories
Maintenance Outdoor Gardening

Top 8 Tips for Healthy Outdoor Gardens

Ever wondered how some people appear to maintain beautiful healthy gardens effortlessly while others struggle? Surprisingly, healthy outdoor gardens do not always require a lot of work. Just some clever advance planning and regular light maintenance will go a long way in maintaining a healthy garden.

Here are our top 8 tips for healthy outdoor gardens.

Tip 1: Pick the right spot for your plants

Whether you are starting up a new garden or working with an existing garden, it pays in the long run if you could spend a few days observing (and recording before you forget) which parts of your garden get the most sunshine and which parts of your garden are in the shade most of the time.

Then ensure that the parts of the garden that receive the most sun have plants that love full sun or lots of it. And the shady parts of the garden should have plants that require less sunlight or prefer shade. Not all plants are the same! Some love sun, some prefer partial sun/shade and some are shade plants. The difference in location makes a difference to their survival and the long-term success of your garden. If necessary, transplant plants into spots that suit them best.

Tip 2: Deadhead flowering plants regularly

Pinch off flowers as they droop and dry. This will encourage your plant to produce more blooms. Some flowers develop seeds of fruit as soon as their petals fall, diverting the plant’s energy from making more flowers.

Deadheading will result in a healthy garden over the long run as it also improves the look of your garden, keeping it fresh. Besides, wet petals may stick to leaves and rot on them, leading to unsightly brown patches.

Tip 3: Do not overmow your lawn

The height of your lawn should vary according to the season. In growing season, it’s ok to mow low as the lawn will grow quickly. In the colder months, when your lawn is likely to go dormant, mowing too low may result in the lawn being prone to more weeds.

Resist the urge to mow too low thinking that you will be mowing less frequently. Most grasses prefer to strike a balance between the size of their root systems and length of their blades. When the roots and the grass blades are in the right balance, the lawn will be at its healthiest and provide a lush green look with fewer weeds.

Mowing can help your lawn grow thicker because the tip of each grass blade contains hormones that suppress horizontal growth. When the lawn is mowed, these tips are removed, thereby encouraging the grass to spread and grow thicker near the roots.

Tip 4: Soak your garden weekly

Give your garden a good long weekly soak. That means watering to the extent that the soil gets at least 1 inch (2.5 cm) of water. This allows the water make its way down to the roots and encourage your plants to grow deep roots. Short frequent waterings result in water that remains at the surface which is more likely to evaporate rather than penetrate to the roots.

Tip 5: Avoid watering during the hottest part of the day

Watering on a hot sunny afternoons may result in moisture lost to evaporation rather than soaking the ground. There is also a minor risk of leaf scorch depending the heat. Having said that, if you’re experiencing a few days of scorching heat, it is worthwhile watering whenever you can to reduce plants withering or dying from heat and lack of moisture.

Tip 6: Improve soil quality

Soil does get depleted of nutrients from time to time. It is wise to pay regular attention to the quality of soil. Some plants also use certain nutrients more than others. Using the right type of fertiliser for each section of the garden will do wonders. There are fertilisers specially formulated for citrus plants, flowering plants, roses, lawn, etc. So use the right product for the various parts of the garden. You may also enrich the soil by adding compost, manure, peat moss, etc.

Tip 7: Get on top of weeds

Healthy gardens tend to have little weeds. Bare spots in your garden are more likely to have weeds. There are a few ways to prevent and control weeds – use a weed mat, weed killer or mulch. Mulch is especially great for covering the area under plants, to keep weeds under control by smothering them. In between plants, you may consider laying weed mats or even ground covers that don’t require much sunlight or water. Shade-loving succulents can act as good ground covers in such instances. Besides these, ensure that you physically remove weeds as and when they appear.

Tip 8: Trim & prune regularly

Trimming and pruning frequently by removing older stems and leaves encourages a plant to direct its energy into new growth. This will help keep the plant looking young and healthy. It also improves air circulation and allows light to reach inner and lower leaves. Pruning away unhealthy or damaged parts of the plant also reduces the risk of disease, while controlling the overall size and shape of the plant.

Send us your photos of your beautiful gardens. We would be more than happy to feature them on Facebook or Instagram!

Categories
Maintenance Outdoor Gardening Seeds

Companion Planting to Keep Pests Off Your Vegetables

Pest control are an ongoing issue that every gardener faces. There are many pest control products available on the market. For those of us who prefer non-chemical or organic remedies, natural pest control remedies can be used as an alternative. Companion planting may be the perfect solution as well.

What is Companion Planting?

Companion planting is a technique of growing plants in close proximity to vegetables or crop plants to help repel pests.

This planting technique usually results in increased pollination as a result of beneficial insects being attracted to the garden. Besides this, there is usually a reduction in damage from pests resulting in an increase in crop yield.

Here are some suggestions of companion plants that can be used for natural pest control remedies. Moreover, it doesn’t hurt that they also look good or are edible!

Flowering Plants that Deter Pests

If you love having a colourful garden, then growing flowering plants alongside your vegetable garden could be just the thing for you.

Here are 4 suggestions of flowering companion plants.

Chrysanthemums: Chrysanthemum discourage nematodes, spider mites and Japanese beetles. Chrysanthemums have a naturally-occurring chemical known as pyrethrum, which is an insect repellent.

Lavender: Lavender repels caterpillars & moths.

Nasturtiums: Nasturtiums release a peppery scent that keeps away many insects.

Petunias: Petunias deter asparagus beetles, leafhoppers, tomato hornworms & squash bugs.

Herbs that Deter Pests

If you prefer a sustainable lifestyle and growing everything that you cook, then herbs are the best companion plants for you. Everything that you grow can be eaten. The old fashioned concept of ‘from the paddock to the table‘!

Here are 4 suggestions of herbs which can be grown as companion plants.

Basil: Basil repels gnats, thrips, flies and aphids.

Dill: Dill is great for repelling aphids & spider mites, and may keep cabbage loopers, squash bugs and tomato hornworms at bay.

Fennel: Fennel repels aphids, snails and slugs.

Thyme: Thyme is perfect for keeping away whiteflies, stink bugs, corn earworms and cabbage loopers.

Vegetables that Deter Pests

If you don’t like wasting valuable garden space on growing flowering plants, you could consider planting companion vegetables and crop rotation.

Here are 4 suggestions of vegetables that can help to repel pests.

Leeks: Leeks repel carrot flies.

Mustard greens: Mustard greens may prevent an aphid attack.

Radishes: Radishes may repel cucumber beetles.

Tomato plants: Tomato plants are great companions that won’t look out of place in your vegetable garden and they help to keep asparagus beetles at bay.

Other Options

If you live in an area where there are deer, you may consider planting deer resistant shrubs to help protect your crops.

Or if you have a small courtyard, patio or balcony, then indoor gardening with a garden tower may suit and it will help you to keep an eye on pests and pick them off as they appear.

Let us know how you go with keeping pests away with our suggestions! Happy gardening!

Categories
Indoor Gardening Maintenance Outdoor Gardening Plant Highlight

Mint (Mentha) Care Guide

The mint plant (Mentha) is a hardy, perennial herb grown for its leaves, which have a variety of culinary uses, including mint sauce for roast lamb, herbal tea infusions, as garnishes and in salads such as tabouli.

There are several varieties eg. peppermint (Mentha piperita), spearmint (Mentha spicata), pineapple mint (Mentha suaveolens variegata), orange mint (Mentha piperita citrata) and apple mint (Mentha suaveolens).

The plant grows vigorously in sun or partial shade. It should be treated as a weed for that reason. It is recommended that you grow it in pots rather than in garden beds as it can quickly take over the garden bed.

Why Grow Mint?

Due to its strong scent, it attracts beneficial insects and repels pests, including fleas, mosquitoes and mice.

Besides having beautiful ornamental leaves, it provides a number of health and medicinal benefits. It helps to relax muscles, soothes indigestion, acts as a mild decongestant and freshens breath.

It also helps that it grows quickly both indoors and outdoors, so it’s easy to pick some every now and then without running out.

Common Problems

  1. Insects – It is usually quite vigorous and strong. Occasionally, it may be attacked by aphids, spider mites, mint root borers and cutworms.
  2. Fungal diseases – It can also be attacked by mint rust, verticillium wilt and anthracnose.

Common Mistake

There aren’t many things that can go wrong when growing mint as it requires minimal care. The one mistake to watch out for is planting mint into a garden bed. Mint is invasive as it sprouts runners. Mint will overtake a garden bed and smother other plants in no time if it is not controlled.

Care Requirements/Guide

Watering: Keep the soil moist by watering it roughly every 3 to 4 days.

Light: It can grow in full sun and partial shade. Roughly 6 hours of direct sunlight a day will keep them happy.

Temperature: Mint copes with winter when established although the leaves may die back a little. When the warmer months comes around, it’ll spring back to life again.

Soil: It prefers slight acidic to neutral soil which is rich.

Fertilizer: It is not necessary to feed it. However, if you would like to, you can give it an occasional dose of all-purpose, water soluble fertilizer at half strength. Over-fertilizing cause it to lose its flavor.

Pruning: Pruning is not necessary if you are harvesting it regularly. However, be sure to keep the runners in check and ensure that it does not choke other plants.

Propagation: It is easy to propagate from cuttings, or just uproot a plant after it has spread via runners. It is also easy to grow it from seeds.

Toxicity Warning

It is not toxic to humans. However, if used in essential oils, it is toxic to dogs, cats, and horses. If a lot is ingested, it can cause vomiting and diarrhea.

Our Picks:

Buy It Now: Mint Garden in a Bag
Buy It Now: Herb Starter Kit
Categories
Maintenance Outdoor Gardening

Why Rainwater is Better For Plants Than Tap water

I love rainy days. Besides the melancholic mood, it’s lovely to rug up on a rainy day. Not to mention, listening to the therapeutic sound that rain makes on the roof and surrounding areas. Most of all, I feel pleased about my garden and plants getting a deep soak of beneficial rainwater. It helps too that leaves are being naturally cleaned at the same time.

Rainwater is beneficial to gardens

Have you ever wondered why plants seem to have a lush green appearance, look cleaner after experiencing some rainfall? Somehow plants seem to exude happy vibes after rain. Yet, watering them with a hose or a watering can doesn’t quite achieve the same feeling.

The answer lies in chemistry.

Rainwater has less harmful chemicals than tap water

Tap water usually has chemicals like fluoride and chlorine, which may cause damage to plants. Fluoride may injure plants with long, slender leaves, such as the spider plant. High levels of chlorine may accumulate in indoor potted plants over time, which could be toxic to them.

Rainwater contains more oxygen

Rainwater contains more oxygen than tap water. If you ever wondered why your plants don’t seem to suffer from root rot or other damage after heavy rains, oxygen is the reason. Waterlogging may bring about anaerobic soil conditions (ie. lack of oxygen) and lead to root rot if you overwater your plants with tap water. However, rainwater is highly oxygenated and therefore, even when soil is saturated after a downpour, there is no danger of root rot since anaerobic soil conditions do not develop.

Rainwater has a slightly acidic pH

When it rains, carbon dioxide is also introduced to the garden environment. Carbon dioxide combines with other minerals in the atmosphere and makes rainwater a little acidic. When this acidic rainwater wets garden soil, minerals such as zinc, manganese, copper and iron that are essential to plant growth are released.

Rain falls uniformly & leaches soil

Rain tends to fall uniformly throughout the garden, which means that it leaches the soil down beyond the root zone, getting rid of salts which may have accumulated in the soil and inhibit plant growth. This is the reason why plants seem to explode in growth after a rainy spell.

Lightning & Nitrogen

Plants require nitrogen to produce the green pigment known as chlorophyll which is needed for photosynthesis. If plants suffer from nitrogen deficiency, their leaves will turn yellowish. We would usually introduce nitrogen to the soil in the form of fertiliser. The decomposion of organic matter in the soil also releases nitrogen. However, lightning plays the biggest role in the nirogen cycle in that it generates enough energy to break down atmospheric nitrogen. This nitrogen then mixes with oxygen and water, resulting in rainwater which contains high levels of nitrates and ammonium required by plants.

In conclusion, now that you are aware that rainwater is more beneficial to your garden and plants than tap water, you may wish to consider installing water tanks in your garden, so that you can collect precious rainwater for regular use!

Categories
Maintenance Outdoor Gardening

Ants – Boon or Bane in the Garden?

I am somewhat fond of ants, having had an little ant farm as a science experiment when I was a kid. They are hardworking little creatures which have the amazing capacity to carry objects much heavier than themselves. However, ants can be both beneficial to your garden and a pest as well.

Ants are beneficial to gardens

By diging tunnels through the soil, ants are similar to earth worms in helping to aerate the soil. They make the soil more water-absorbent as a result.

They move garden waste when they move organic material like leaves and dead insects, which thus helps to fertilize plants.

They are predatory animals that feed on other insects, some of which are plant pests. They kill off caterpillars by attacking them in large numbers. Tree ants also tend to consume the mildew that forms on plants without destroying the plants.

They also inadvertently aid in pollination while they are foraging, moving pollen from flower to flower while looking for sweet nectar.

Ants are pests in the garden

Ants like to build nests around the root system of plants. This can cause stunted growth, leaving plants more susceptible to disease.

A secondary issue is that they have been known to protect aphids from other predators, such as ladybirds, to maintain a reliable food source for themselves. The last thing you want is an increase in aphids in your garden, as they will be sucking the life out of your plants relatively unhindered!

Lastly, what appears to be a harmless ant nest can be annoying if it creates uneven bumps in your pristine lawns. 

What to do about ants in the garden?

As it is next to impossible to have an ant-free garden, we recommend having a tolerant relationship with them. Considering some of the benefits they provide, it is good to have ants in the garden. On the flip side, it would be wise to keep their population under control, so that they do not cause damage to your garden.

Some natural ant remedies:

There are a few natural remedies. Some of them are listed briefly below.

1. Use of cinnamon is my favourite as it is known to repel ants without killing them. That way, you can still have some ants in your garden while keeping their numbers low.

2. Sprinkle aspartame (eg. Equal or Nutrasweet) around your garden. It is toxic to ants in that it over-stimulates their brain cells, resulting in their deaths.

3. Use food grade diatomaceous earth in a fine powder form. They have sharp edges that can penetrate the bodies of ants, resulting in dehydration and death.

4. For other remedies such as soap sprays, check out our other article on natural pest control remedies.

Categories
Maintenance Outdoor Gardening

5 Things to Do to Maintain Your Garden

Everyone loves a beautiful garden. But not everyone knows how to maintain a garden or has the inclination to. Our advice is to keep up with regular maintenance so that your prior efforts in establishing your garden don’t go to waste! With minimal regular efforts, you can enjoy your beautiful garden for years to come.

So, here are our top 5 tips on what you need to do regularly to maintain your garden:

1. Remove weeds and grass

Removing weeds and grass before planting anything in the garden will save you a lot of angst in the long run. Firstly, you will not have to spend too much time controlling weeds later on. Secondly, your plants will have less competition for nutrients and moisture if there are no competing weeds.

Start by digging up and loosening soil, so that you can remove weeds and grass. Then top up with a layer of good quality soil and compost. Finally, mulch the garden bed to reduce access for weeds to take root in soil. You will have to remove weeds that pop up from time to time to keep your garden neat, tidy and healthy.

If you are digging up a patch of the garden which was previously full of weeds or grass, you might want to consider placing a weed mat over the area for a few months. This will help to kill any weeds since they will be starved of sunlight. After a few months, you may remove the weed mat and plant into that section of the garden.

2. Feed the soil

Feed the soil regularly. Good quality soil with the required nutrients means your plants will be healthier, stronger and therefore, will thrive where you plant them. Adding organic material like compost or well-rotted manure to the garden bed will keep your garden looking great all year round.

3. Choose the right spot for the plants

Before planting into the ground, survey the spot during different times of the day to guage how much light the spot receives in a day. Then place a suitable plant in that spot. If the spot is shady most of the day, plant something that prefers shady spots. If the spot receives sunlight for a good part of the day, then a plant that thrives in full sun will love that spot. Failing to do so may mean that your plants will die shortly after being planted in that spot.

4. Check for pests regularly

Casting your eye over your plants and garden regularly helps you to spot problems well before they become too difficult to overcome. If you spot aphids or other pests, you can take spray with pest killer well before they cause serious damage to your plants.

5. Clear debris from the garden regularly

Clearing your garden of debris will not only help it to look good but also reduce spots where pests can hide. It is also important to harvest fruits as they ripen and remove any diseased plants before the infection spreads to other plants. Deadheading flowers will also help to prolong flowering season.

There you go, just taking these 5 steps to maintain your garden at least on a weekly to fortnighly basis will go a long way to ensuring that you have a beautiful garden that is a joy to relax in for years to come.

Categories
Maintenance Outdoor Gardening

Natural Pest Control Remedies

Pest control are an ongoing issue that every gardener faces. There are many pest control products available on the market. However, if you are into organic vegetable gardening, have young children or pets, then you may be rightfully concerned about using commercially prepared pesticides. Besides companion planting, natural pest control remedies may just be the strategy for you.

Here are our top 10 tips natural pest control methods for your garden:

1. Introduce insect predators

If you have an aphid problem, a natural pest control method is to introduce aphid predators. This includes ladybirds, green and brown lacewings.

2. Soap spray insecticide

Soap sprays are a great defence against aphids, mites and thrips. Dilute a tablespoon of liquid soap (ensure it is additive-free) in a litre of water, then spray onto the affected leaves using a spray bottle. Be sure not to NOT spray it on a hot sunny day. Evenings and early mornings are better times to use a soap spray insecticide.

3. Oil spray insecticide

Oil sprays work by coating the bodies of the insects with oil. This suffocates them, as oil will block the pores through which they breathe.

Mix 250 ml of vegetable oil with 1 tablespoon of soap, shake it thoroughly, and then when ready to apply, add 2 teaspoons of the oil spray mix with 1 litre of water. Again shake thoroughly, then spray directly on the surfaces of affected plants. As with the soap spray, do not spray during the hotter part of the day.

4. Tomato leaf insecticide

If you do not like the idea of using soap and oil in your garden, the tomato leaf insecticide may be an alternative. Tomato plants are part of the nightshade family, so they contain alkaloids which can effectively control aphids and other insects. If you have tomato plants in your garden, chop 2 cups of fresh tomato leaves into 1 litre of water. Let it sit overnight. Then strain out the plant material and spray onto affected plants.

5. Chilli pepper insecticide

Ever bitten into a fresh chilli peppers and regretted it? Well, that’s your solution for insects as well! Blend or puree fresh chilli pepper with water in the proportion of 1:2. Then dilute it with 4 times the amount of water and boil it. Once the mixture has been cooled, strain out the chilli pepper material and pour it into a spray bottle. Be careful to keep it away from your own eyes, nose and mouth for obvious reasons!

6. Neem oil insecticide

Neem oil is bio-degradable and non-toxic to pets and wildlife. It is a hormone disruptor, capable of disrupting the life cycle of insects at all stages (adult, larvae, and egg), making it a great resource for the organic gardener. It also doubles up as a natural fungicide and can be used for powdery mildew and other fungal infections on plants. Mix 2 teaspoons of neem oil, 1 teaspoon of mild liquid soap and shake them thoroughly with 1 litre of water. Then spray it on affected plants or even as a preventative measure on healthy plants.

7. Garlic insecticide

Due to its pungent aroma, garlic can act as an insect repellent. Take 2 whole bulbs of garlic (not just cloves!), puree them with a small amount of water. Let the mixture sit overnight, then strain it into a jar, then add it to an oil spray insecticide (see no. 3 above). Spray liberally all over the garden. It might even keep Count Dracula away! (Just kidding!)

8. Diatomaceous earth

If sprays are not your preferred method, then diatomaceous earth may suit. Diatomaceous earth is a powder containing about 80%-90% silica made from the sediment of fossilised algae found in bodies of water. It is thought to kill insects by dehydrating them or drying them out. All you need to do is simply dust the ground around your plants, or even sprinkle it on the foliage, where it will help control snails and slugs as well as other crawling insects. Remember to re-apply it after watering your garden or a rainy day, but after the ground and foliage are dry.

9. Pest control traps

Pheromone-based pest control traps work well for stink bugs and other pest insects including moths. These are a small glue traps that are come with a small vial of sex pheromone that will be placed on the trap. Sex pheromones are hormones scents that are usually emitted by the female insect and picked up by the male as a cue for mating. Male pests are drawn to the trap for the purpose of mating and are then caught. This is not always preferred by gardeners as it is a slow-death for the trapped insects who are stuck onto the glue.   

10. Physical barriers

Physical barriers, such as bird netting, tulle fabric and chicken wire netting, are useful for keeping out rabbits, caterpillars and birds away from your vegetables or fruit crops.

Categories
Indoor Gardening Maintenance

How To Identify and Eliminate Indoor Plant Pests

Pests can be annoying, and the last thing you want is to see that your plant baby is being attacked by them! Pests are most often seen on outdoor plants, but they sneak their way into your houseplants from time to time. Here is how to identify and eliminate the most common indoor plant pests.

Common plant pests and how to squash them.

1. Fungus Gnats

Common plant pests and how to identify and eliminate fungus gnats.
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Fungus gnats are often the most noticed pest because they fly around your home. They are a nuisance because you can see them wondering around your plant and room! Thankfully they do very little harm to plants but are annoying nonetheless.

Symptoms: You will see small, black flies zipping in and out of your plant substrate or soil surface. The larvae look like small worms approximately 1mm in length, and wriggle around when the soil is wet.

Treatment: Pick off any dead plant matter from the top of the soil and ensure you dry out the soil. To keep the surface of the soil dryer, bottom water your plant as this will reduce the fungus gnat population.

You can use yellow sticky traps to catch the adult population of fungus gnats. This works well for reducing the amount of gnats flying around but doesn’t solve the problem.

Other popular gnat killing techniques include using a layer of ant sand on the surface of the plant, adding pebbles or bark to the soil’s surface, bug spray and pest killers.

2. Mealybugs

How to identify and eliminate mealybugs, a common indoor plant pest
https://www.pinterest.com.au/pin/711428072377122341/

Mealybugs are attracted to plant sap, sucking it from the plant as food. They look like furry, white woodlice and cluster on the plant leaf. If you leave your mealybugs, their damage will cause leaves to yellow and die.

Symptoms: Colonies of mealybugs tend to group on the undersides of leaves and in leaf joints. The infested plant will begin wilting and appearing dehydrated. Leaf loss might come on quick suddenly and honeydew residue will appear.

Treatment: Wipe them off with a wet rag, or spray the plant with water. Then follow by spraying small amounts of liquid soap/water solution onto the plant.

3. Aphids / Blackfly / Greenfly

Aphids or black fly or green fly, a common indoor plant pest
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Aphids also suck the sap from plants, however attacking soft plant growth, tips and flowers. They usually hide on the underside of plant leaves to keep out of sight. Like mealybugs, aphids clump together as a colony, making them easy to spot with the human eye.

Symptoms: An aphid infestation can be identified by a large mass of aphids, sticky honeydew residue and white/grey husks in the soil. The leaves of your plant will likely turn yellow and growth will become distorted.

Treatment: Create a warm soapy water mix with warm water and a small amount of liquid soap. Spray the plant with the solution, limiting the amount touching the soil. Wait five minutes and wash off the soap mixture. Repeat in a few weeks if necessary.

4. Red Spider Mites

Red Spider Mite Plant Pest
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Red Spider Mites are one of the most difficult pests to get rid off and are dreaded by most plant lovers. They are arachnids and therefore related to regular spiders. Spider mites spin webs on your plant but don’t feed on insects but instead on the liquids within the plant leaves. They use webs to protect their colony and create shortcuts to other parts of the plant.

Symptoms: The most obvious sign of an infestation is sticky webbing. Other symptoms include mottled leaves with small brown dots caused by the spider piercing the leaf with its mouth.

Treatment: You can treat mites with water and humid conditions. Pop your plant in the shower once a week to shower it and help wash off webbing and reduce spider mite numbers. Mist the plant daily to increase humidity.

5. Scale

Scale indoor house plant pest
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Scale have hard outer brown shells that camouflage into the plant. This can make it hard to identify.

Symptoms: Sticky honeydew is a simple sign that you have a scale problem. It will turn black and create a soot like mould. They make an appearance on the underside of leaves as small round or oblong brown disks.

Treatment: You can use the aphid spray method to soften the scale discs. After approximately five minutes, wipe the leaf with a damp cloth. You can also try rubbing or picking them off to kill them or dab the individual scales with alcohol to dissolve them.

We hope you’ve learnt something and now know how to identify and eliminate your indoor plant pests.

If you’re having other plant problems, check out our list on the most common indoor plant problems.