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

  • Slow progress on 2015 Paris agreement comes as scientists warn of need to get on track

    Negotiators at the climate conference in Poland have inched closer to an outcome, as the official deadline for finishing a deal ran out.

    The conference was meant to approve a rulebook which would govern how nations put into action the goals set in the landmark Paris agreement of 2015, when the world resolved to hold global warming to no more than 2C above pre-industrial levels, with an aspiration to limit temperature rises to no more than 1.5C.

    Continue reading...

  • Small bits of plastic packaging from waste food make their way into animal feed as part of the UK’s permitted recycling process

    Plastic traces in animal feed could pose a risk to human health and urgently need to be the subject of more research, experts have told the Guardian.

    Their comments came after British farmer Andrew Rock contacted the Guardian, having noticed plastic shreds in his animal feed. Rock was told by the suppliers that this was a legal part of the recycling process that turns waste food, still packaged, into animal feed.

    Continue reading...

  • Report finds more than 95% chance of hydrological changes to Belyando River Basin from mines including Carmichael

    Coalmines planned in the Galilee Basin – including Adani’s Carmichael mine – understated the likely impacts on surrounding water resources, a federal government scientific report has found.

    The bioregional assessment report into the cumulative impact of coalmine proposals was published quietly last week. It was compiled by experts from the CSIRO, Geosciences Australia, the Bureau of Meteorology and the federal environment department.

    The report modelled information from seven of 17 proposed coalmines in the Galilee and found there was a greater than 95% chance that they would cause hydrological changes to the Belyando River Basin.

    Continue reading...

  • Nascent industry aims to reduce environmental impact of beef production

    The first steak grown from cells in the lab and not requiring the slaughter of a cow has been produced in Israel.

    The meat is not the finished article: the prototype costs $50 for a small strip, and the taste needs perfecting, according to its makers. But it is the first meat grown outside an animal that has a muscle-like texture similar to conventional meat.

    Continue reading...

  • Australia’s Mary River turtle went viral after it was named on an endangered species list – and Cate Blanchett even voiced a puppet of it. But was that enough to save it?

    It was “the punk turtle” – an eccentric and yet strangely human-looking reptile with a vivid green mohican, fleshy “fingers” under its chin and the ability to breathe through its genitals. The Mary River turtle went viral in April when pictures of the hitherto little-known creature were shared around the world after it was placed 30th on the Zoological Society of London’s Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered list for reptiles. The rating, which guides conservation prioritiesfor at-risk species, was compiled by Rikki Gumbs. He says that turtle fascination “went absolutely crazy” after its publication, as he fielded calls from journalists around the world. Reptiles are often overlooked but the connection many felt for the animal does not surprise Gumbs. “It’s the least these amazing reptiles deserve,” he says. “Once people can see how incredible and unique they are, it’s not surprising they are drawn to them.”

    The turtle became endangered because it was widely collected for the pet trade in the 1960s and 70s. Such collecting is outlawed now but the turtle faces a new threat. It is only found on a relatively small part of the Mary River, in Queensland, Australia, and is imperilled by the loss and degradation of its habitat. Non-native plants prevent it laying eggs in sandy river banks; non-native foxes and dogs predate it.

    Continue reading...

  • Tony Rinaudo’s regeneration technique, developed in west Africa 30 years ago, has helped bring back forest over 6m hectares

    Through the cacophony of the UN’s global climate talks, an Australian farmer is quietly spreading his plan to reforest the world.

    Over more than 30 years in west Africa, Tony Rinaudo has regenerated more than 6m hectares – an area nearly as large as Tasmania. His farmer-managed natural regeneration technique is responsible for 240m trees regrowing across that parched continent.

    Continue reading...

  • Chile and Costa Rica thought to be considering alternative bids after Brazil withdrew offer

    Britain is bidding to host the UN climate change conference in 2020, the biggest since the Paris agreement was signed in 2015, as part of the government’s aim to be seen as a green leader.

    The conference will mark a vital deadline for countries to comply with their commitments on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and move on to tougher targets for the decade to 2030, and so it is likely to be a fractious affair.

    Continue reading...

  • Exclusive: A secretive organisation based in a German village has amassed one of the world’s largest collections of rare parrots. How did Martin Guth, a former nightclub manager, persuade governments to authorise the export of so many endangered species?

    • Australia gave endangered birds to secretive German ‘zoo’, ignoring warnings

    It’s an unlikely spot for a zoo – down an unmade, dusty road, amid a wood to the east of the German capital Berlin.

    But here in the village of Tasdorf, hundreds of the world’s most endangered and rare parrot species are said to be housed at the headquarters of the Association for the Conservation of Threatened Parrots (ACTP).

    Continue reading...

  • The continent’s largest land mammal plays crucial role in spiritual lives of the tribes

    On 5,000 hectares of unploughed prairie in north-eastern Montana, hundreds of wild bison roam once again. But this herd is not in a national park or a protected sanctuary – they are on tribal lands. Belonging to the Assiniboine and Sioux tribes of Fort Peck Reservation, the 340 bison is the largest conservation herd in the ongoing bison restoration efforts by North America’s Indigenous people.

    The bison – or as Native Americans call them, buffalo – are not just “sustenance,” according to Leroy Little Bear, a professor at the University of Lethbridge and a leader in the bison restoration efforts with the Blood Tribe. The continent’s largest land mammal plays a major role in the spiritual and cultural lives of numerous Native American tribes, an “integrated relationship,” he said.

    Continue reading...

  • Prospects for species look dire as federal science body finds that only one of the country’s 16 populations is believed to be stable

    Half of Canada’s chinook salmon are endangered, with nearly all other populations in precarious decline, according to a new report, confirming fears that prospects for the species remain dire.

    The reportby the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada concluded that eight of the country’s 16 populations are considered endangered, four are threatened, one is of special concern and the health of two remain unknown.

    Continue reading...

Eco Health News feeds

Eco Nature News feeds