All pesticides are toxic to some extent. The good news is that there are plenty of natural alternatives to stop unwelcome guests from chowing down your balcony garden.
To deter insects and snails
Add a few drops of organic detergent or shaved soap to chilli, garlic and peppercorns. This helps the mixture stick to the leaves. The longer you can leave it the better. Dilute at a ratio of 1:10 with water if spraying, or you can use a pastry brush. Re-apply after rain.
To deter grasshoppers and caterpillars
A cup of molasses goes in a litre of water and over new foliage.
To deter ants
Fill a spray bottle with water and add 10 -15 drops of peppermint essential oil. Ants hate the smell, so they won’t go near the sprayed region. If you have a cat, beware! This may be harmful.
To get rid of weeds
A cup of sea salt goes in a litre of vinegar and is brushed over weeds. Remember, this will kill all plants so be careful.
To get rid of aphids
Aphids or plant lice are sap-sucking insects that like to feast on your plants in clusters. The best natural thing to do is to blast them with a strong gush of water. You can also prune them off with your hands.
To get rid of powdery mildew
This is a white fungal disease that usually begins in tiny white circles and then reproduces quickly, covering the leaf in white fur. Try mixing milk with water at a ratio of 1:10 and spray on affected plants. It won’t stop it, but may give your plant some time to recover. Always spray in the early morning so you don’t encourage the fungus to grow.
Next time you have a problem in your green patch, try a natural solution – but remember to always test on a small patch first.