White oil, Winter oil or Dormant oil is a substance most gardeners use.  You will notice that on the nursery-bought jar, there’s not even a poison caution.  This is because it fits within the realm of  an organic method of controlling pests that can strip a garden bare in no time flat.

It is simple, inexpensive and easy to apply without dangerous effects to the user or the environment and you can make your own variations of it.  Soapy water is a variant but not quite as effective.

It works by coating the pests and their eggs with a thin layer of oil, suffocating them. Because the oil does not poison the pests, you need to spray well on the top and underside of leaves and stems for it to work. You can use it against mealy bugs, red spider, aphids, scale, mites, fruit moths and white flies.

The best time to spray is late winter as you move into spring so that you will kill all the sleeping bugs, and in the tropics, just spray at a shady time of the day.  Evening is good.  Spray to dry plants when no rain is forecast.

Spray with a thin layer of oil thick enough to suffocate the pests not the plants.

White Oil Spray Recipe

Dilute the White Oil with water, and use a small amount of mild soap to temporarily emulsify it. The ratio of oil to water is 1 cup White Oil to 2 tablespoons of any cheap vegetable oil, stir it together.   Add it to 5 litres of water. Add a cup of baking soda to the mix and shake well to make it into a fungicide.  To increase the insecticidal quality, add 4 cloves of garlic, crushed.  Use it all on the same day if you have made these additions.  Storage will make it smell appalling.

Vegetable Oil Spray Recipe

Mix one litre of cheap cooking oil and 200g soft soap (from $2 shop is fine).

Boil, mix again and bottle.

Shake each time you use it and dilute in 20 parts water before spraying on trees and shrubs

Spray once a month or as needed.

Nicotine Spray Recipe

My granddad used to make this one, and as kids, we found the smell of his cigarette ends quite revolting.  But he used to store them up in an old Milo can which he would boil up on the incinerator periodically.

Boil 100 cigarette ends in 4 litres of water. (pick them up in the street if you must but wear gloves!)

Strain and bottle.

Dilute 50% with water before spraying the solution on infected plants. Good at fighting weevils, caterpillars and leaf miners.  Don’t use too often or the birds will no longer do their thing in keeping your creepy crawly numbers down.  Not for any plants related to the deadly nightshade group (potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant) as it may harbour and spread viruses to these.  One month with-holding period.


Garlic Spray Recipe

This is the recipe the esteemed, late Martha Gardener must have been totally sick of reading out along with her woolwash!

Mix one part homemade soft soap or bought liquid soap with 100 parts water.

Steep a bulb of crushed garlic cloves (per half bucket) in the mixture overnight, then strain.

Spray any plants with it weekly, early in the morning to keep away caterpillars, aphids etc..  It has a slight bacterial and anti-fungal property and upping the quantity of garlic (which you can buy cheapest at Vietnamese markets) intensifies this.  You can also add Birdseye chilis, chili powder or sauce to it which makes it effective for caterpillars, crickets, scorpions if you have those, but be careful that you don’t burn the leaves of the plant with the heat and only spray that one at night.

Regular use is key, and remembering to respray after rain.

Also, put a sticker on your mixtures to identify them and DATE it.

Used weekly this will keep aphids (green and black fly) at bay on even their favorite crop; broad beans and roses.

If you can’t be bothered with sprays, just heave your washing water out onto the plants but don’t always choose the same plant – rotate the water to avid it going icky in puddles or damaging your plants. If putting on edible plants, you must then use Microdyne or some other bacterial wash to make sure your veges aren’t toxic.  Flush that solution down your toilet as a toilet cleaner.

So how does this help the environment?

  • You are using benign chemicals.
  • You are using up your scraps (soap, oil)
  • You are reusing bottles
  • You are not going anywhere special to get your ingredients which, in turn, aren’t traveling to you.
  • There’s no printed label, box, middle man etc. etc.
  • You are not putting toxins into the system

Hint: save all those little ends of soap that you sometimes throw out.
If you grate them up, boil them in an old saucepan and water them down as you need them (around a tablespoon to a bucket) , you will get heaps of buckets of a solution that you can spray on or throw over your plants to protect them from aphids, caterpillars etc..

Hint: You can actually use the old cooking oil that you are dumping (past its edibility date and maybe cooked too many times) in these recipes or take some away from your local fish or burger shop to save them dumping it.  It may just smell a bit ‘fish & chippish’!

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