I took a walk to the Rockridge Long’s today, or as my friend Christine calls it, the Mother Ship Long’s. It’s huge. With a huge nursery/ gardening center. I wanted to find out if I could buy plants, soil, fertilizer, and other plant necessities in non-plastic containers. Here’s what I found:
1) Plants — just as at Whole Foods, Long’s sells herbs and vegetables in Eco-Form pots, but all the other plants are sold in plastic. I’ll be sticking to seeds until I can find a way to buy plants without plastic.
2) Soil — Nope. Not a single bag of any kind of soil in non-plastic. How do people avoiding plastic obtain potting soil? I won’t be planting anything new until I figure this out.
3) Fertilizer — This is where I hit the jackpot. Long’s has a whole aisle full of organic plant foods in cardboard boxes and heavy paper sacks. Brands include Sweet Earth, Down to Earth, Grow More Research Farms, Peace of Mind, and Bradfield Organics.
4) Insecticidal soaps and other anti-pest products — Not much luck here. I bought a cardboard carton of ladybugs, who will be relocating to their new home tonight after I finish this post, and a box of Concern diatomaceous earth to get rid of the ants that are farming the nasty scale on my citrus trees. Other than those 2 items, I found nothing else that was not packaged in plastic. Fortunately, there are recipes online for making your own insecticidal soap, such as these from eSSORTMENT:
Recipe 1: 1 ½ teaspoons of liquid dish detergent per one quart of water.
(This mixture should assist you with the removal of mites, whiteflies, aphids, thrips small scales and leafhoppers. This recipe has a very low toxicity to wildlife and humans but should not be applied on a sizzling hot day, windy, or humid. It can burn some plants with dull leaf surfaces so always test a non-visible area before you attack the whole plant or growing section.)
Recipe 2: To combat adult scale, mix one cup of generic isopropyl alcohol with one tablespoon of the above insecticidal soap recipe. Mix those two ingredients with one quart of water and apply on your plant’s leaves (top and bottom) every three days for two weeks. This mixture will penetrate the adult scale insects’ shells which will kill them soon after contact.
Recipe 3: The last recipe can be used to spray on those plants that you want to bring inside for the winter. Mix three tablespoons of isopropyl alcohol in a quart-size spray bottle and fill with lukewarm water. Add one teaspoon of dishwashing detergent. Spray the topside and underside of the leaves and let it sit for three minutes, rinse all the leaves thoroughly and let them dry outside.
I’m going to start the second recipe in a few days and see if it really will work on scale. Any other suggestions?