A homemade insect killer for scale

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 J.C. and Carter at Condon Gardens Landscaping, one of the few truly organic landscapers in Houston.

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.

J.C. and Carter have 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.

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.

But before you run out and buy the elements that make up this formula, please note one very important point: the ingredients all need to be agricultural grade. You cannot use grocery store versions of molasses and garlic oil.

If you have an inordinate amount of insects, such as aphids or whiteflies, you can also mix in a couple of ounces of liquid pyrethrum and keep the spray organic, but create an instant "knockdown" of heavy infestations.

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

Obviously, you are not going to find all these products at your average garden center, mass merchandisers or big-box store. I've listed below some of the many independent nurseries and garden centers that carry all of these products. If any of them don't have one of the noted products on the shelves, they can easily get them in a matter of days from local distributors.

  •  RCW Nurseries (on Highway 249 at Beltway 8)
  •  Southwest Fertilizer (on Bissonnet at Renwick)
  •  Cornelius Nurseries (any of three locations)
  •  ABC Country Store (near Katy High School)
  •  Buchanan's Native Plants (on 11th St. in The Heights)
  •  Maas Nursery (5511 Toddville Road in Seabrook)

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