Mycorrhizal fungi

Plants grown in sterile soils and growth media often perform poorly because of the limited nutrients available to them. This can be reversed by
the addition of spores of mycorrhizal fungi to colonise the plant roots and aid in the uptake of available mineral nutrients. Mycorrhizas are beneficial fungi growing in association with plant roots. Mycorrhizal fungi exist in nearly all soils, and exist by taking sugars from plants ‘in exchange’ for moisture and nutrients gathered from the soil by the fungal strands. The mycorrhizas greatly increase the root system and therefore the absorptive area of a plant, acting as extensions to the root system making a wider and more efficient network attached to the 
plant’s roots beneath the 
ground. A network composed of fungi with spreading spidery arms extending beyond the plant roots and this will generally aid the growth of the plant. These fungi are highly efficient at absorbing water and nutrients (particularly phosphorus) from the soil.

Most of our garden plants use mycorrhizas. The only type that doesn't is the brassica family.
Mycorrhizas will also not flourish in certain conditions:
  1. Soil which has too much phosphorus, from chemical fertilisers
  2. in ground repeatedly used for brassica growing
  3. Over cultivated soil, where the fungi have been disturbed and then weakened
  4. Ground where Fungicides have been used as this will kill them

Organic insecticides

Companion planting - If you plant garlic cloves (just one or two) among rose bushes. An infusion of garlic crushed into water and sprayed on the aphids will also help remove them. Many herbs, such as hyssop, sage, dill, lavender and thyme discourage aphids if planted near to susceptible plants.

Nettle spray - this is made from common stinging nettles and will help to control aphids.
Gather 224g (1/2lb) young nettles and soak in a bucket of water for a week. Strain and use undiluted as a control for aphids
on roses and celery leaf miner. Add the mushy nettles to the compost heap.

Rhubarb spray- the oxalic acid in rhubarb leaves can help to control aphids.

Cut 450g (1lb) rhubarb leaves, place in an old saucepan (the oxalic acid may damage one that you still use) with 1.1 litres (2pt) water and
boil for half an hour, topping up as necessary. When cool, add 1 dessertspoon of soap flakes dissolved in 275ml (1/2pt) warm water.
This acts as the wetting agent when added to the strained rhubarb liquid. Stir the mixture thoroughly and use undiluted as a spray.
Rhubarb leaves are quite toxic so be careful to keep this away from children and pets.

Elder spray - this is effective against aphids, small caterpillars and for mildew and blackspot on roses. The effective agent is hydro-cyanic acid,

so use an old saucepan when preparing the spray.

Gather 450g (1 lb) leaves and young stems of elder prefer-ably in spring when the sap is rising. Place in the saucepan and add 3.3 litres
(6pt) water. Boil for half an hour, topping up as necessary. Strain through old tights and use the liquid cold and undiluted. It will keep for three

months if bottled tightly while still hot.

Coffee spray – Mix a good strong mix of black coffee and spray onto brassica whitefly, aphids or caterpillars or slugs and snails.

Neem Oil Amounts For Insect Spray
For 1 litre of a 0.5 % dilution of neem plant spray you need:

5 ml neem oil

1-2 ml soap flakes

1 litre warm water

Chilli spray
Slice 500 grams of ripe chilli pods and place in a container then pour over 2ltrs boiling water. Cover and leave to stand for 4 to 5 days. Sieve the mixture and keep the liquid. Dissolve 30g of soap into this liquid Use soap flakes or that is used for washing dishes and not
the modern washing powders that contain caustic soda which will harm plants.
How to use: Use as a spray, against most insects including caterpillars, aphids, flies, ants and mealy bugs. Apply once a week
if there is no rain or two or three times a week if it rains. It is important to use this solution as a preventative measure.
If the concentration of the chilli solution is too strong, it can burn the leaves. So it is important that the right strength is found by

Garlic spray

Mince, mash or finely chop three to four cloves of garlic, and add them to two teaspoons of paraffin oil. Let this mixture sit for 24 hours, strain and add the remaining liquid to half litre of water. Add one teaspoon of soap flakes. This mixture can be stored and diluted as needed. When you need to spray, use two tablespoons of the mixture added to one pint of water in a spray bottle. First test by spraying an inconspicuous part of the plant to see if your mixture harms it at all. If there are no signs of leaf damage after a day or two, it is safe.