By Dick Handscombe

There have been increasing concerns during the past year regarding then general worsening of air quality in towns in Spain including along the Mediterranean Costas and the cavalier way in which potentially dangerous agricultural chemicals are sprayed with insufficient concern about the dangers to the sprayer, passers-by and neighbours in adjacent gardens.

So what can we gardeners do to reverse the trend during 2016.

Firstly only spray, apply with a watering can or dust when really necessary and then minimise the treatment to the affected branch or plant.

Only use natural products or naturally sourced products.

The following should cover your needs.

  1. BLACK OR POTASIUM SOAP SOLUTIONS, or as a fall back if you cannot trace the former an eco-washing up liquid. Useful for removing white green or black fly with a hand spray or using with a brush to remove mealy bugs.
  2. NATURAL SULPHUR POWDER. Useful for dusting leaves with mildew and getting rid of ants.
  3. NEEM OIL OR PRODUCTS INCLUDING NEEM OIL. A three to five ml to litre of water spray will solve most insect problems. Many garden centres now stock a neem product. If you can’t trace it locally contact They normally supply by mail order with payment on delivery.
  4. A bi-product from bee hives useful for treating honey fungus, sooty leaves and other fungal problems. Try a 5ml per litre of water spray oir apply with a small paint brush.
  5. NATURAL PROPRIETRY INSECT SPRAYS. Ask what your local horticultural shop or agricultural co-operative has for spraying olives and apricot trees.
  6. NATURAL BAITS. Many of the above outlets stock a natural powder or liquid bate For adding to purchased or home-made insect traps hung on fruit trees.
  7. NEUDORFF NATURAL SNAIL AND SLUG BAIT. This seems to work well Use sparingly and don’t watch out for piles of dead snails or slugs for they eat the pellets and go off to their lairs to die Comfrey leaves as a line around seedbeds can also be successful.
  8. WEED KILLERS. Use a gas or infrared wand or ten percent vinegar solution. Watch out for the Neudorf eco weed-killer that is no launched in the UK and will be hopefully in Spain this year.
  9. NATURAL GARLIC SPRAYS. Crush garlic and pour on hot water. Shake vigfourously and leave to stand for a day before using it as a neat or diluted spray especially on geraniums to deter geranium moths.
  10. GARLIC BULBS. Plant segments in containers or in the ground alongside geranium plants or under rose bushes.
  11. HORSETAIL INFUSIONS. Useful for spraying fungal attacks or for watering on with a watering can
  12. THYME LEAVES.An infusion of thyme leaves is a useful mild insecticide for use on tender plants.

Even though you will hopefully be using natural products be polite and do not spray in a high wind or when neighbours are working or relaxing in their gardens.

© Dick Handscombe,  Facebook page ‘Gardening in Spain, December 2015.