Gardening with a clear conscience

Gardening with a clear conscience

Looking for organic methods that actually work? We share our pick of the best nature-friendly ways to feed plants, control pests and kill weeds. All without harmful chemicals.

Weedkillers and bug sprays contain harmful chemicals that can harm wildlife and upset the natural equilibrium in your garden. Home remedies are far kinder to your space – swapping the chemicals for lemon juice, baking soda and vinegar can really work, while boiling water has its benefits, too.

Advertisement

Keep your plants pest-free and your conscience clear, with the help of these tried and tested organic remedies.Discover our pick of the best natural, home remedies, below.

More on organic gardening:


Kill weeds without chemicals

Gardening with a clear conscience - killing weeds with boiling water
Gardening with a clear conscience – killing weeds with boiling water

Natural weedkillers can be made using boiling water, lemon juice and vinegar. Bear in mind that you will need to apply these home remedies more often than when using conventional weedkillers. Try making  a spray using one part baking soda with two parts vinegar, or simply spraying neat lemon juice onto the leaves of weeds. What’s more, a full kettle of boiling water can stop weeds in their tracks – just be careful around pets and children.


Use garlic to deter slugs

Gardening with a clear conscience - garlic
Gardening with a clear conscience – garlic

A home-made garlic spray can be effective in deterring slugs and snails from your plants, but only if you spray your plants regularly. Take two full bulbs of garlic and add them a saucepan containing two litres of water. Boil gently until soft and then use a fork to squash the bulbs down, releasing as much of the garlic and juice as possible. Pour the solution through a sieve to remove the skins. Then. dilute this solution by adding 2tbsp to five litres of water. Spray or water your plants once a week or after rain.


Use Epsom salts to feed plants

Gardening with a clear conscience - watering with Epsom salts
Gardening with a clear conscience – watering with Epsom salts

Epsom salts have been used by gardeners for decades because they help increase nutrient uptake, are water soluble, and leave no chemical residue. The magnesium in Epsom salts helps plants absorb phosphorus and nitrogen. Use 1tbsp of Epsom salts per gallon of warm water. Use immediately indoors or outdoors to give your plants a nutritional boost. You can also use this solution as a foliar spray.


Use milk to clean leaves

Gardening with a clear conscience - mildew
Gardening with a clear conscience – mildew

A diluted solution of 50-50 milk and water can be used to clean and shine your house plant leaves. Simply spray on and wipe for the perfect shine. You can also use this spray to prevent powdery mildew on outdoor plants such as hollyhocks and cucurbits. Spray the solution onto plants weekly to prevent the problem.


Kill blackfly with diluted washing up liquid

Gardening with a clear conscience - blackfly
Gardening with a clear conscience – blackfly

A weak solution of washing up liquid can be used to spray infestations of blackfly. Simply spray on and then wipe off. Alternatively, use a jet from your hose, which can blast the aphids off your plants. Bear in mind that aphids have natural predators such as birds, ladybirds, hoverflies and lacewings, so leaving them be is the most organic and nature-friendly means of dealing with the problem.


Use crushed shells to deter slugs and snails

Gardening with a clear conscience - mulching romanesco with crushed oyster shells
Gardening with a clear conscience – mulching romanesco with crushed oyster shells

A thick mulch of crushed shells can be a useful deterrent to slugs and snails, which they find hard to travel over and will therefore avoid if they surround vulnerable plants. Egg shells work well – simply crush them using your hands or pop them in a plastic bag and cover with a tea towel and crush them with a heavy object like a rolling pin. Save them up so you have a good amount and then apply a thick mulch around vulnerable plants or seedlings, replenishing the mulch every few days. Crushed oyster shells also work. Pop these in a sealed bag and cover with a tea towel before crushing them with a hammer. Safety goggles are recommended for this task.


Make chamomile fungicide

Gardening with a clear conscience - chamomile flower
Gardening with a clear conscience – chamomile flower
Advertisement

A strong tea made using chamomile leaves and flowers is said to help combat fungal infections such as Damping Off, and can be as effective as the synthetic fungicides. Simply infuse freshly cut leaves and flowers in hot water for half an hour or do the same with a couple of chamomile tea bags. Allow to cool and decant into a spray bottle. Use within a week.