Here's another homemade, organically based insect killer that was originally designed as a natural control for scale insects in landscape shrubs. The formula came from our friends at Condon Gardens, one of the few, truly organic landscapers in Houston.

For years, when the issue of controlling scale came up on GardenLine, there never seemed to be an organic control available on the retail market. For a long time, we have successfully fought scale with the synthetic chemical malathion, and trust me when I say it works against scale. But, as far as I know, there's still not one premixed, prepackaged organic control ready to buy off the shelf.

Several months ago, though, I was trading ideas with J.C. and Carter at Condon Gardens when Carter noted that he had experienced great results with their homemade organic solution. And while it works on scale, there are also many other insects it can control — lace bugs, red spider mites, thrips, and aphids, for example.

But before you run right out and buy the 3 organically driven elements that make up this formula, please note one very important aspect: the ingredients all need to be agricultural grade. You cannot use grocery store versions of molasses and garlic oil. I'll explain why below.

Mix in a gallon sprayer: 

     - 1 ounce of molasses (Medina & GardenVille molasses are great examples)
     - 1 ounce of garlic oil (Garlic Barrier is the most widely recognized)
     - 1 ounce of liquid seaweed (GardenVille Liquid Seaweed is well-known)
     - Then fill the rest with water.

If you have an inordinate amount of insects like aphids or white flies, you can also mix in a couple of ounces of liquid pyrethrum and keep the spray organic while you create an instant "knockdown" for heavy infestations.

J.C. and Carter both agreed that if you just use the mixture occasionally, not only do you keep insects from generating damaging populations, but you get some natural disease control on landscapes with the garlic oil and seaweed. And if you're wondering about the need for the agricultural-grade garlic and molasses, the reason is pretty simple: the agricultural versions haven't been overly processed, and all the natural sugars and microbes are still there — they're needed in the overall scheme of organic control.

Obviously, you're not going to find these ingredients at your average garden center, especially mass merchandisers and big box stores. But there are many independent nurseries and garden centers that carry all of them. I've listed some below. And, even if the retailers below don't have any on their shelves, they can order from local distributors and have them for you in less than a week.

          - Condon Gardens (on Hammerly, two blocks East of Wirt)
          - RCW Nurseries (Highway 249 at Beltway 8)
          - Southwest Fertilizer (Bissonnet at Renwick)
          - Cornelius Nurseries (three locations)
          - ABC Country Store (in Katy, near the high school)
          - Buchanan's Native Plants (on 11th Street in the Heights)
          - Maas Nursery (5511 Toddville Road, Seabrook)