A Few Handy Tips!

Flowerpot Sterilizer.

Just because a flowerpot is used and dirty, you do not need to toss it.
Whether clay, plastic, or ceramic, the pot can be superficially cleaned with a strong blast from a garden hose.
If the pot has white, crusty mineral deposits, scrape them off with an old knife {scraping clay pots will sharpen the knife}. When the pot is free of dirt and minerals, sterilize it to kill insect eggs and plant diseases.
1 part household bleach
10 parts water
1. Mix the bleach and water, making enough to fill a tub that is deeper than the largest pot you want to sterilize.
2. Place the cleaned pots in the tub and allow them to soak for 20 minutes.
3. Remove sterilized pots, rinse again with clear water, and set them in the sun to dry. They are now ready for new plants.

General Purpose Potting Mix.

The compost in this mix contributes disease-fighting microorganisms and nutrients to help mature indoor and patio potted plants thrive.
1 part perlite
1 part finished compost
1 part topsoil
1. Mix all ingredients together and store in a waterproof, sealed container.
2. To modify this mix to suit succulents, cacti, and other plants that need sharply drained soil, increase the perlite to 2 parts, or add 1 part builder’s sand to the original recipe.
3. Before filling a large pot, invert several small pots on the bottom of the larger pot, then fill with soil. The air space beneath the small pots will aid drainage and lighten the overall weight of the pot.

Garden Pest Removers: Insect Repellent.

Insects won’t bug your next patio cookout if you try this fragrant, non-toxic herbal fix.
Sprigs fresh rosemary
Sprigs fresh basil
Sprigs fresh thyme
1. When you remove food from the grill, spread out a handful of pungent culinary herbs on the top rack of the grill where they will smoke, but not harm.
2. Allow the herbs to cook and release their insect-repelling fragrances.

Baking Soda Fungal Fix.

When a baking soda solution is applied to fungus-prone plants, such as roses and bee balm, before signs of mildew appear, it can prevent diseases including powdery and sooty mildew and black spot. And because this spray is cheap and easy to make, you can keep it on hand and apply as needed. To further discourage fungal diseases, keep plant leaves as dry as possible by watering the soil without splashing the leaves, and mulch plants with disease-fighting compost.
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon liquid dishwashing soap {do not use laundry or dishwasher detergent}
1-quart warm water
Pour ingredients into a large spray bottle and shake to mix.
Spray both sides of leaves and stems.

Bug Blaster Soap Spray.

Dish-washing soap is harmless to the environment and is safe to use in the house. Outdoors it also makes an effective control for soft-bodied insects, such as caterpillars, thrips, aphids, and mealybugs, because soap breaks down their protective coverings, causing the pests to dehydrate.
1 tablespoon liquid dishwashing soap {do not use laundry or dishwasher detergent}
1-gallon water
1. Pour soap into water and stir to dissolve. Fill a spray bottle and test-spray one of two leaves of an infected plant. Wait a day, and if the leaves are not damaged, spray the entire plant. Be sure to coat the stems as well as well as both sides of the leaves.
2. Repeat the treatment twice a week until the pests are no longer visible. Then repeat as often as needed.

Ammonia Plant Conditioning Spray.

Ammonia is a concentrated form of nitrogen, which is the nutrient most needed by green plants. You can make an inexpensive all-purpose fertilizer and insecticidal spray using ammonia and soap. The soap helps the ammonia stick to the leaves and also kills soft-bodied insects. Mix as much as you need for garden plants and lawns. Store all garden treatments, such as this, in a capped and labeled bottle in a childproof cabinet.
1 part household clear ammonia
1 part liquid dishwashing soap {do not use laundry or dishwasher detergent}
7 parts water
1. In a large container combine the ingredients.
2. Fill a spray bottle and apply the mixture to stems and both sides of leaves for garden plants.
Use a hose-end applicator to spray the lawn.

Oil Spray Insecticide Concentrate.

Some plant pests and fungal infections are hard to eradicate because they have shells or waxy coatings that protect them from traditional treatments. You can, however, smother tough-shelled scale, the eggs of many insects, and even mildew infections by coating them with oil. Store all garden treatments, such as this, in a capped and labeled bottle in a childproof cabinet.
1 tablespoon liquid dishwashing soap {do not use laundry or dishwasher detergent}
1 cup vegetable oil
1. In a pint container, combine soap and oil to form a concentrate. Store it in a sealed, labeled container.
2. To apply, mix 1 or 2 teaspoons concentrate with 1 cup water in a spray bottle and apply to stems and both sides of plant leaves.
Reapply after it rains.

Rhubarb Insect Solution.

Rhubarb is an attractive perennial plant that not only makes good pies but also makes an insecticide that is toxic to sucking insects. This recipe is for ornamental plants only.
Do not spray on herbs, fruits, or vegetables, because rhubarb leaves are toxic to humans.
3 stalks rhubarb with leaves
1-gallon water
1. Chop rhubarb leaves and stems. In a stockpot, combine rhubarb and the water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour.
2. Cool to room temperature, and strain liquid into a spray bottle through a funnel. Spray on infested plants at 3-day intervals for 10 days.
Repeat as necessary