Directions

  1. Mix the oil, soap, and water in the sprayer. Water is easiest, but if you've got it, substitute a few cups of chamomile tea or compost tea, both of which help inhibit disease, Andy suggests.
  2. Spray a fine mist on plants as often as needed, "usually daily the first week, then weekly, and, if it holds out, then monthly." Yield: About 1 gallon of preventive oil spray

Note: Andy is picky about the types of oil he will use in the garden. Plant-based oils, such as castor oil or coconut oil, are his favorites, but he is also fond of fish oils, which have minerals that can help strengthen plants against disease. Because it contains peppermint oil (which acts as an insect repellent), he likes to use Dr. Bronners peppermint soap when mixing any garden spray with a liquid soap.

1 gallon water (with chamomile tea or compost tea, optional) Backpack or pump sprayer

Variation: Because it's a cheap, easy, and effective alternative, many gardeners prefer plain old salad oil for disease prevention, says Marion Hess, special contributor for Prodigy's on-line gardening newsletter, Prodigy Gardens Newsletter. "You mix 1 teaspoon of a light salad oil, like canola or saf-flower, and 1 teaspoon of liquid soap in I gallon ol water. It seems to prevent disease."

Even when they're made with vegetable oil instead of petroleum oil, oil sprays can injure your plants if you don't apply them properly. Avoid using an oil spray when temperatures are expected to go above fj5°F or below freezing. It's always best to test an oil spray on a few leaves and then wait and watch for a few days before dousing an entire plant.

1~ire-Away (<uist Removal

If you're fond of old-fashioned hollyhocks, odds are that you're familiar with rust, the ugly orange fungus that can quickly disfigure an entire garden. "Even if you stayed on it every single day with a chemical, you would not get all of the spores," says Mary Lou Heard, owner of Heard's Country Gardens in Westminster, California. So she devised the "fire method." She just makes a tiny fire beneath the hollyhock (with safety precautions!) to kill spores. It works for roses and snapdragons, too.

Ingredients and Supplies

'A cup shredded paper or paper scraps Matches

Jug of water and/or fire extinguisher

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