Plants, crops, soil: Natural Protection

Published in Environment

When soil is contaminated, what ends up on your plate and in your cup or glass is less than healthy. Chemical pesticides and artificial fertilizers are causing untold damage. The 'conventional model' of agriculture is exhausting the earth and undermining human health. There are much better methods of protecting soil and plants using natural resources.

Field horsetail (Equisetum arvense) Field horsetail (Equisetum arvense) Photo: MPF

Plant protection. You  can protect plants from fungal infections or insect damage using herbal preparations. They can be be used preventively, or at the first sign of problems. As they are not chemical poisons, it is perfectly safe to eat the fruits or vegetables after treatment.

Field horsetail (equisetum arvense) concoction. This is a very powerful antidote to fungal diseases. The horsetail should be picked towards the end of the summer, at the end of August, when it contains its highest amount of silica, and dried in a shaded environment. The dried horsetail can be used as a fungicide throughout the year.

The concoction is prepared by heating 300 grams of dried horsetail in 5 litres of water for an hour over a low heat. Then you strain it to remove the solids, and dilute the liquid with a further 25 litres of water, stirring the mixture constantly for 10 minutes. The liquid must be allowed to stand for 10 hours before use.

Fruit trees should be sprayed on a sunny day after rainfall, either preventively, or at the first sign of fungal disease. When used preventively, one can follow the instructions in a monthly crop calendar.

You can also use the horsetail concoction from a watering can, or create a horsetail 'bath' to soak the roots before planting fruit trees. As a spray, the horsetail concoction can be used on any part of the trees, including the crown, trunk and fruits. It provides exceptionally effective resistance, as well as cure, for fungal diseases such as powdery mildew, downy mildew, and rust fungus. Experienced farmers say they cannot have too much horsetail! I spray my vines and vegetables with it. The mixture of 30 litres, as described above, is enough for 400 vines and the vegetable garden covering an area of 400 m2.

Yarrow (achillea millefolium). Photo: Petar Milošević

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) concoction. Yarrow is one of the medicinal herbs used in folk medicine, as it contains bitter-sweet etheic oil and many minerals. It also has disinfectant properties. It enhances the action of other mixtures, therefore it can be mixed with them for greater efficacity, especially with mint and camomile. In organic agriculture it is used against powdery mildew, fruit rot and other fungal diseases.

The yarrow concoction is prepared from 1 kg of leaves and stalks (15cm long), or 200 g of dried yarrow cooked in 10 litres of water. This is then strained to remove the solids, and the liquid is diluted in a ratio of 5:1. It is good as a preventive spray, or at the first signs of illness. For the best effectiveness, make a mint or camomile concoction and mix it with the yarrow in the same dilution of 5:1.

I use this concoction on my vines and fruit trees.

Caution: some fruit trees may show allergy to yarrow in the form of a 'rash', so try out the concoction first on one part of each tree, and avoid using it if there is a reaction.

Nettle (urtica diocia). Photo: Uwe H. Friese

Nettle (urtica dioica) spray. This is used as an insecticide to eliminate aphids. At the same time, the nettle spray strengthens the plants, fertilizes them and increases their resistance against damage.

To prepare the spray, soak 1 kg of finely chopped nettles in 10 litres of water for 24 hours - no longer than that, or the preparation will lose its strength. If you do not have fresh nettles, you need 100 to 300g of dried nettles. Strain the mixture and use the liquid to spray the plants from all sides. The nettle residue can be composted. (The quantity of the spray and its dilution ratio can be altered to suit individual needs.)

Important: the nettle spray must be used immediately, never more than 2 to 3 days after it has been made, otherwise it can cause severe burn damage to your plants.

The nettle spraying can be repeated after a few days, using a fresh preparation.

I use this concoction most often on my vegetables, more rarely on the vines.

Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium). Photo: David Monniaux

Wormwood (artemisia absinthium) concoction. This is very bitter, so insects avoid it, which makes it a very effective insecticide. To prepare the concoction, put 300g of dried chopped wormwood twigs (which can include leaves and even flowers) into 1 litre of boiling water and leave immersed for half and hour. Strain the liquid to remove the solids, add 9 litres of water and the spray is ready for use. The wormwood concoction is used to protect strawberries and blackberries from mites. It protects all fruit trees from aphids, caterpillars, ants and other harmful insects.

Caution: the wormwood residue must not be composted.

NOTE In Split, the dried plants used for these preparations can be obtained from kiosks in the market behind the old Hajduk football ground.

The approximate price for each of these organic materials is 75 kunas per kilogram.

© Mihovil Stipišić 2017. (translated by Vivian Grisogono)

You are here: Home environment articles Plants, crops, soil: Natural Protection

Eco Environment News feeds

  • More than 4.5m affected, says UN group, while tests suggest children’s shorter height increases exposure on busy roads

    More than 4.5 million children in the UK are growing up in areas with toxic levels of air pollution, the UN children’s organisation Unicef has warned.

    Tests suggesting that children walking along busy roads are exposed to a third more air pollution than adults, as their shorter height places them close to passing car exhausts, were also released on Thursday.

    Continue reading...

  • Sightings of toads have fallen by nearly a third and frogs by 17% since 2014, RSPB survey finds

    People with gardens are being urged to create simple ponds or areas of long grass because sightings of frogs and toads in gardens are drying up.

    Reports of toads in gardens have fallen by nearly a third since 2014, while sightings of frogs have dropped by 17% over the same period, according to the Big Garden Birdwatch, the RSPB’s wildlife survey.

    Continue reading...

  • The Kilauea eruption has wiped out rare sites and whole ecosystems. As the island mourns a tragedy, it also accepts the brutal cycle of nature

    In Puna, the area of Hawaii island that’s been hardest hit by the Kilauea volcano eruption, those who lived nearest to the lava flows watched the forest around their homes begin to die first. They said the fruit trees, flowers and ferns began turning brown, languishing in the noxious, sulfur-dioxide-filled air. Then the lava came. Now large swaths of formerly verdant forest has been replaced by rough and barren volcanic terrain.

    “Before the eruptions, that area was probably the best forest left in the state of Hawaii,” said Patrick Hart, a biology professor at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. “There were areas where the native Ohia forest extended right up to the ocean, and you just don’t see that in the rest of Hawaii,” he said. Now it’s covered with 20 to 30ft of lava.

    Continue reading...

  • Off the tip of Cape Cod, pods of humpbacks return every summer to feed. For the past 18 years, Philip Hoare has been joining them to witness this incredible display

    At the tip of Cape Cod, a sandy spit reaches out into the Atlantic, like an arm, towards a vast underwater plateau where humpbacks gather each summer to feed. This is the US marine sanctuary of Stellwagen Bank, where for the past three weeks I’ve been a guest on the Dolphin Fleet whalewatch boats, working out of Provincetown.

    Continue reading...

  • Calls by joint inquiry to bring forward UK car sales ban have been resisted by government

    The government has been accused of dragging its feet on air quality improvements by a cross-party group of MPs.

    A partnership of four committees said serious concerns remained about the UK’s commitment to cutting pollution and its impact on public health.

    Continue reading...

  • Former PM could join Craig Kelly, who has also threatened to oppose national energy guarantee

    The former prime minister Tony Abbott has flagged crossing the floor to oppose the national energy guarantee, joining fellow conservative Craig Kelly, who telegraphed a similar threat three weeks ago in an interview with Guardian Australia.

    Conservative critics of the policy are attempting to ratchet up internal pressure on the energy minister, Josh Frydenberg, before a critical meeting with his state and territory counterparts at the beginning of August.

    Continue reading...

  • Antibiotic use on farms is a major cause of human drug resistance. Yet slick social media campaigns – funded by the multi-billion-dollar industry – are confusing and complicating the issue

    Slick industry PR campaigns about antibiotics in food are muddying the water around a serious public health risk, say critics.

    Pharmaceutical and meat companies are using similar tactics to the cigarette industry, in an attempt to confuse consumers and hold off regulation, despite the fact that the rapidly growing risk of anti-microbial resistance is one of the biggest health risks of our time. It’s estimated that by 205010 million people might die a year because we have overused antibiotics.

    Continue reading...

  • Eleven people protesting over pollution from a copper plant have been killed by police in Tamil Nadu in south India

    Another person has been shot dead during violent protests in south India against a copper plant operated by a British mining giant residents say is polluting the local environment.

    Opposition politicians in the state of Tamil Nadu have accused the police of committing mass murder against protesters opposed to the expansion of a copper smelting facility in the port city of Thoothukudi.

    Continue reading...

  • This year, in collaboration with Global Witness, the Guardian aims to record the deaths of all people killed while protecting land or natural resources. At the current rate, about four defenders will die this week somewhere on the planet

    Continue reading...

  • Tanzanian government accused of putting indigenous people at risk in order to grant foreign tourists access to Serengeti wildlife

    The Tanzanian government is putting foreign safari companies ahead of Maasai herding communities as environmental tensions grow on the fringes of the Serengeti national park, according to a new investigation.

    Hundreds of homes have been burned and tens of thousands of people driven from ancestral land in Loliondo in the Ngorongoro district in recent years to benefit high-end tourists and a Middle Eastern royal family, says the report by the California-based thinktank the Oakland Institute.

    Continue reading...

Eco Health News feeds

Eco Nature News feeds