Saturday, November 17, 2018

Make Your Own Environmentally Friendly Garden Spray

We have just visited a Mackay Plant Nursery called Country Garden's Mackay, which is new to us but has been there for over 20 years. This visit may just have changed our gardening lives. Frank the owner, is a mine of information, and could hold his own against any of the gardening gurus, including Jerry, the Brisbane gardener on Gardening Australia and maybe even Tom Wyatt from Central Queensland. We came away with  Frank's hand written recipe for an environmentally friendly and very economical garden spray, which Frank says will work on any of our plants to solve most of the pest problems we are experiencing.  There is a nasty little white fly, (not sure of the exact name  I'm sorry) which has been stinging our Pomegranate fruit, our first season, and leaving black spots all over them, stinging our cucumbers and capsicums, and will also cause a myriad of other problems if not quickly discouraged to visit our garden.

This pomegranate flower above has already been stung evidenced by the black spots. Hopefully the pomegranate fruit below will evade the little monsters.

Frank has lots of local knowledge, and knew straight away that this  flying insect is the pest which needs to be eradicated, but in a way which doesn't harm all of the other beneficial insects and the environment.

This super spray prevents mildew, rust, black spot, aphids, white flies, scale, caterpillars and grass hoppers in the nicest possible way.  Use 15 Litres of water as a basis, or  break it down to what you require.

We just halved the quantities to suit the volume of our spray.

Remember this is for your plants, and not to be consumed by humans

Franks's Garden Spray Ingredients:

15 Litres water
2 cups Full Cream milk made up (use powdered milk to be more economical)
75 ml Canola Oil
75ml Dishwashing liquid detergent
4 tablespoons Bicarbonate Soda
A dash of seaweed solution to colour it


Emulsify the Canola Oil and the Dishwashing liquid by shaking together in a large jar
Dissolve the Bicarbonate of Soda separately in warm water
Add the other ingredients to the large jar of Oil and Dishwashing Liquid and add the Bicarb of Soda to the 15 Litres of water.

Spray you garden once a week with this and you should see results and hopefully no pests or little grasshoppers eating your herbs.

Mr. HRK made up this mixture straight  away and he will always approach something like this in a different way to how I would. Whereas I would have made up the milk carefully, he just added the  powdered milk undiluted, about 1/2 cup, to the Detergent and the Oil, after it had emulsified, added the other ingredients and shook it all up. Then he added that mixture to the water. It probably doesn't matter how it's done as there is a large water base anyway. The great thing about these type of recipes is you don't need to be absolutely exact, however be careful not to overdo the Bicarbonate of Soda.

Mr. HRK and I have had a couple of unfortunate experiences with some Bunnings plant purchases lately. Generally I propagate basil from seeds in my seed bank, but knowing that would take a while and I have been running late this year, I bought a few plants from Bunnings. They have looked a bit sick from the start and have never really produced the nice fleshy leaves which is characteristic of the Sweet Basil plant. I have never had trouble growing Sweet Basil before. Despite the fact that it is probably getting a bit hot for them now, Frank said that basil plants have been carrying a fungus this year, and this is probably being transmitted all over the state with imported Southern Basil plants. Next year the Basil should be ok again. I also purchased a miniature Mulberry tree from Bunnings for Mr. HRK for his birthday present, as he loves mulberries. The leaves burnt straight away when we planted it out, and it didn't look at all well, and has only just started recovering with lots of TLC. We have also just  transplanted it back into a pot when we realised that it will only remain a miniature in a pot. They can grow very big.

We came away from  Country Garden's Mackay  realising the advantages of buying plants which are propagated or struck locally in our area, at a local nursery, and where they have already adapted to Mackay growing conditions.This will reduce the amount of stress suffered when they are replanted into our garden conditions. Australia has quite a harsh Summer, and giving plants this advantage will be much better for them. I try to propagate when I can from seeds that I have collected from our own garden, and each generation will then adapt even better to our local conditions.

Does your windowsill look like this one? My laundry windowsill faces north so is very well lit and quite warm. At the moment I am finishing the drying of coriander seeds which I picked this morning, drying chilli seeds from home grown chillis, and I am growing a celery plant in water from the base of a store bought head of celery. When the celery head has sent out a good sized shoot and has sufficient roots, I'll transplant this into the garden. I've done this a few times and as long as they are well watered they will do well.

On a more positive note, we have had success this year with our two vanilla bean orchid vines. Thankfully the pesty flies don't seem interested in them, but the black ants are. Each morning we are getting two to three new flowers on the vines, the flowers only last 24 hours, and must be pollinated in the early morning before they whither in the heat. These need to be pollinated by hand everywhere that they grow except perhaps Mexico, as the pollinating bee has unfortunately become extinct. We use a toothpick to do this and there are plenty of videos on the web on how to do it, but basically it just means pulling away the blossom petals, separating the piece of plant tissue called the rostellum, and then transferring the pollen from the male anthers to the female stigma.  You know this process  has worked when the pale creamy flower starts to whither, and a green vanilla bean can be seen growing from the flower as in the photos below.

I planted this Vanilla Orchid straight into the ground and it's climbing up the mesh covering the raised vegetable garden. It is quite a vigorous plant.

This one is an older plant and is growing on the Golden Penda tree. I bought this at a market in Bowen. There are still plenty of flower buds on this one.

Orchids are such great value. This one has been flowering for a couple of months.

Now for a food recipe. I am still preferring to eat softer foods, as my mouth is quite tender after the bone graft surgery. I'm not chewing any steak as yet. So these little quiches were delicious for brunch this weekend.  I baked them in teflon muffin trays, and this is my standard quiche recipe which cooks up well into mini quiches as well as a large quiche.

Vegetable Quiche recipe served with spicy tomato relish
Spicy tomato relish recipe
Thanks for stopping by.
Hoping you all have a nice week ahead.



  1. Local can’t beat it! Thank you for passing on Frank’s Garden Spray recipe; I will definitely be making up some. My cherry tomatoes have had spots on them this year and the leaves on the eggplants look most peculiar due to some sort of insect damage. And maybe you’ve given me the answer to why my new basil plant this year has never thrived. Thank you again for such an informative post.

    1. Maria my eggplant leaves have been looking strange as well with brown markings on them and then I discovered a small bug, which looks like a beetle on them, so I have squashed a few of them but keep looking out for more. I think they were stinging the fruit as well. Looking better now. I think that is what you will find. Hope the spray works for you, would be interested to know. Thanks, Pauline


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