As we inch toward the planting season, we must decide how we will handle pests and diseases. While there are several organic methods available (and we carry some of them), there are some homemade treatments that have been talked about throughout the cyber world.
Have you heard of milk to control powdery mildew? According to Master Gardener Paul James (http://www.hgtv.com/landscaping/effective-fungicides/index.html) milk can be used full strength or mixed 50/50 with water and sprayed on the foliage of affected plants. Paul claims it works well on cucumbers.
Got bean beetles? Probably the best control out there is not a pesticide of any type, but a beneficial insect. A parasitic wasp (Pediobius foveolatus) is extremely effective at controlling Mexican Bean Beetles by laying their eggs in the bean beetle larvae, which in turn kills it. The key is timing with this control, parasitic wasps MUST be ordered when Bean Beetle larvae begin to hatch. A good source for these is http://www.state.nj.us/agriculture/divisions/pi/prog/beneficialinsect.html.
Compost tea has a good rep in some circles, while others claim it is worthless. Compost tea is simply that, brewing your compost in water. The result can be a wonderful concoction of microbes that have been shown by some to control plant diseases and improve soil life. Dr. Elaine Ingham, the compost guru from Rodale, touts the wonders of tea (see article http://www.finegardening.com/how-to/articles/brewing-compost-tea.aspx) but the consensus seems to be that the tea is only as good as the compost. So, if you make good compost you should have good tea, and vice versa. These are just a few of the DIY options for gardeners. Do you have a remedy that works well? Please share!