Monday, February 28, 2011

Tasty Pest Killer

Not something that you'd think go together, but I've found a great insecticide that uses basic kitchen ingredients, some of which can be eaten later!! I got the recipe from Wendyl Nissen's book, advertised below, Domestic Goddess on a Budget. I've been trying to get rid of the white parasite for months now. I'd been using a commercial product, which was effective, but concerned me a lot. We love to sit out on the balcony, we like to touch the plants and when you spray insecticide, it tends to go everywhere. Even covering up and wearing gloves doesn't help as it splatters as it hits the plants and leaks all over the place. Then we can't sit out there for several days or touch the plants, and when it's finally safe, you have to do it again!
So, after a crazy weekend a few weeks back when I took all my bulbs out and soaked them in my remaining commercial insecticide and washed all my plants down with the stuff, I decided enough was enough. I needed something I could use regularly without having to worry about skin irritations and poisoning afterwards. Especially when I checked my plants a week later and found more of the horrible white fluff attacking all the new buds.
In Wendyl's recipe you only need 3-4 chillies, 3-4 cloves of garlic, half a cup of water (the edible part) and quarter of a cup of dishwashing detergent (although, I've used only a few squirts and it's been working fine).
As quoted from her book, "steep the chillies and garlic in the water over a low heat for fifteen minutes. Cool, [strain] and pour into a spray bottle with the liquid detergent and fill the rest of the bottle with water." If you save the chillies and garlic after straining, you could add them to a stew or something (just don't add the detergent too).
I've done this in the last two weekends, and I haven't seen even the tiniest bit of white fuzz. I'm going to do this for a month, and then reduce it to once a month. Parasites are always making a comeback, but I feel better about making this concoction a habit than the commercial ones.

Steeping Chillies and Garlic

Soaking bulbs. All the white dots are the parasites

A fresher look. The bulbs are so much happier now.

Next step... Getting rid of red rust fungi!

Buy Domestic Goddess On A Budget: How To Save Money And Time And Still Be Gorgeous Book by Wendyl Nissen (9780143011859) at Whitcoulls with free shipping

Buy Domestic Goddess On A Budget: How To Save Money And Time And Still Be Gorgeous Book by Wendyl Nissen (9780143011859) at Whitcoulls with free shipping

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

To everyone in Christchurch

In the wake of the devastating news from Christchurch, New Zealand, I'd like to express my sympathy for the victims of the earthquake. The news is horrific, but the speed at which the city has received help both domestically and internationally has been wonderful.

All our thoughts are with you. If anyone would like to make a donation at the Red Cross NZ, you can here:
The Salvation Army is also taking in Donations.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Welcome Back

Hi everyone. After being away for more than a year, I'm back and ready to go again. A lot has been happening around the place including our building being painted, So my balcony is looking a bit different.
Aesthetically, I've now lost my blue wall and the rails are a dark grey. But the paint is nice and fresh, so I might wait for a bit before changing the colour again.
My plants weren't happy at all as they had to stay inside for a good part of six weeks as we didn't know when it was going to happen, and when they did start our section, it wasn't systematic so my poor plants were stuck in behind tinted glass all day. If they'd had feet, they'd have walked out. Instead, one sulked and lost all her leaves, all flowering stopped and parasites went on the rampage.
Once, the painters'd finished the main part, I spent a couple of days pruning, cleaning and getting rid of parasites. Then, finally, the painters finished completely and went away. The plants have now been trooped out and all have found homes. Some have gone back to their original spot. Most, however, have been given new ones. My Aloes and more hardy plants are now on the balcony next to my bedroom, where it is hotter and drier. Which has made more space for other plants that are starting to need more space of their own, including the Hibiscuses.
I've also been trying some more organic pesticides that I'll tell you about next week.