Natural pest control

I have this lovely lemon tree.  It cost a lot, but was so worth it with it's beautiful dark green foliage and abundance of sweetly scented flowers.  I put it in the conservatory where it should have thrived.  And it did.  For a while.  Then I noticed that the leaves were not a dark green and some were falling off and soon I could see the dreaded web of spider mites.  Bravely I Googled spider mites and horror of all horrors!  They are almost impossible to get rid of!

Undeterred I have waged a war since.  I have tried to use commercial pest poison (no good).  I cooked up a nasty concoction of my own with chili peppers and garlic (my mother swears by this).  I boiled rhubarb leaves to make a natural poison (that works pretty well against other pests).  And finally I  bought nematodes to eat the spider mites (cost almost as much as the lemon tree).  That seemed to work until this spring when I noticed that the lemon tree was looking unhappy, rapidly loosing it's leaves and on closer inspection I could see the dreaded fine web of the damn mites.

This time I took drastic measures.  I isolated the tree and cut it back drastically.  Still tiny webs and now my beloved had no leaves and the mites were quick to devour every sign of new leaves emerging.  So I have now moved my darling to the bathroom where I give it a spray of water every day (the mites don't like humidity) and it seems to be recovering.  Lots of tiny little leaves emerging.

To treat the beasts in the conservatory (who have now started to eat my grapevine and wisteria) I made a natural pesticide that I'm hopeful will get rid of them.  I found the recipe on the Our Scented Cottage  blog.  I made a smaller dose, to fit my little poison sprayer that had previously stored the rhubarb poison.

The recipe I used was:
1 tsp.  liquid soap (like Murphy's)
1 cup water
1/3 cup neem oil (an indian oil of many uses - more)

This is shaken or stirred and spayed on the plants once a week.
I drenched my plants in this solution yesterday and will continue with the treatment for the next few weeks.  I really need to rid the conservatory of this pest so that I can put my lemon tree back there and enjoy it's wonderfully scented flowers again.  I really enjoy using the flowers as decoration on the lemon cake that I bake (it's to die for).  That wonderful recipe I found on another blog, but that is a subject for another post.

Update:  That lovely little lemon tree finally died in March of 2011.  It will be sorely missed.  I have no idea why it died, it just lost it's leaves and even if I kept watering gently it just never came back.  Oh well. Another one of those mediterranean plants that I can't seem to keep alive.

Yet another update:  I've always known that one shouldn't throw stuff out too soon.  I never completely gave up on the lemon tree.  I removed it from the almost concrete-like soil it was in and litterally washed the roots and put it in fresh gritty compost.  The I decided that I would keep it through spring.  It now has some lovely fresh green growth and looks very healthy.  The same can not be said for the Wisteria which is covered in spider mite web.  The Citrus tree will not reside in the conservatory anymore.  At least not until I have eradicated the mites.

The photo: Grandmother Ellý's "Rulla" was something my mother remembers spending long hours at doing the linens.  Now it is purely for decoration, holding that silly little bird (200kr.) and a bottle of rhubarb poison.   


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