The following is a guest post by Barbara Herring:
There are different plant diseases that we often come across in the course of gardening. One notorious one is the fungal disease that is often frustrating, annoying and worse still hair pulling. Nobody grows plants only for their growth to be interfered with by diseases.
It is this reason that often makes us go out of the way to find various remedies to deal with these diseases. Then there comes this common household item known as baking soda or sodium bicarbonate in scientific terms. It has been touted as a very instrumental item when it comes to treatment of fungal and other infections in plants.
Being that it is very common and relatively cheap, it can come as a breeze to many farmers. But there is still more to its use, that’s why we decided to provide you with these tips on how to treat plants with baking soda. Let’s learn more and eliminate plant diseases in our farms.
So what is baking soda?
As has been mentioned above, baking soda is also known as sodium bicarbonate. This makes it a simple and natural product that is highly alkaline. Being that it is alkaline, any contact between it and an acid results in the formation of carbon dioxide gas that is often seen in the form of bubbles.
This is the property of baking soda that makes it useful as a leavening agent common in many households. You have probably used it while baking bread and cakes among others at home. Its use during stomach upsets as well as in cleaning agents is all well known.
But there is another area of use that has not been fully exploited. That is the area of fungal treatment. But we won’t leave it unmentioned today. Lots of information will be unfolding as you read along.
Treating plants using baking soda
Please take note that baking soda solutions are just used as preventive measures but not as a full treatment to diseases and infections in plants. So how does it work?
- Prevention of growth of fungal diseases
The baking soda can be used to create hostile pH conditions that are unfavorable for the growth of fungi. How to use it for such purposes is very simple and easy. Mix some drops of dishwashing soap with one liter of water.
To the mixture, you are required to add one teaspoonful of baking soda. Thereafter, properly mix the three before decanting and eventually having the mixture placed in a spray bottle.
Spray this mixture on the undersides and top sides of the plants’ leaves very early in the morning. Observing this timing is very important. This allows for the leaves to last long with the solution during the day without drying.
If you decide to spray during the day, the mixture will not last long due to evaporation. This kind of treatment can actually be given to all plants in a garden.
- Treatment of tomato diseases
To treat fungal and other infections in tomatoes, you can as well decide to use baking soda. What you will need to make an effective solution to this effect are two aspirins, two gallons of water and two tablespoonfuls of baking soda.
All these ingredients are to be combined in a spray bottle before allowing the solution to sit for some minutes thereby allowing the ingredients to dissolve fully. Shake the solution well before spraying. The solution should be applied on a weekly basis for the best results.
- Treatment of Powdery Mildew
If there is a stronger and persistent attack of mildew, then a stronger baking soda solution will be necessary for the elimination of the problem. You will need to make a solution of the following substances:
- Water (one gallon)
- A tablespoonful of vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoonful of dishwashing soap
- 1 tablespoonful of baking soda
Use the solution of the above substances to spray your affected plants at least once in a week. Make sure that it is done very early in the morning. Spraying this concentrated solution during the day when the temperature is still hot might cause some burning effects on your plants.
The solution often works best in plants such as squash, lilacs, cucumbers, and zinnias.
- Elimination of disease-causing pests
Most of these diseases we see in plants are often brought into the picture by pests such as aphids and spider mites. Killing these pests goes a long way in ensuring that your plants remain disease-free during their period of growth.
These are the things you will need to make the solution which will give you the best results when it comes to the elimination of pests:
- Water (1 gallon)
- Superthrive (5 drops)
- Sunspray (2 spoonfuls)
- Dishwasher soap (1 spoonful)
- Fish oil (1 spoonful)
- Baking soda (1 teaspoonful)
All these substances are mixed together before decanting into a pump sprayer or spray bottle. The plants should then be subjected to regular spraying at once in a month. This application is recommended to be done in the evening.
To prevent the killing of beneficial insects in the process of spraying the baking soda solution, you should first spray the plants with water from the hose pipe to knock those beneficial insects.
Wholly spray the plants without leaving a single place untouched. Note that anything containing sulfur should never find itself in a solution like this.
Precautions to take when using baking soda in the garden
- Always perform a patch test on a few plants and observe the performance before spraying your entire garden. Use at least 24 hours to check on the patch test before going all out on your crops. If the solution is concentrated to the extent of burning the leaves, dilute and perform another test while observing the performance. The adjustments should be continuous until you get to the right levels.
- Careful use of baking soda is very necessary. Excessive use can damage your plants.
- Don’t spray baking soda around willy-nilly.
- Exposing baking soda to electrical wiring, heating elements and metal items will corrode them.
- Never spray the solution directly on the flower buds and flower stalks.
Have you applied the baking soda mixture and there are still no changes? Well, that means that the fungal attack has reached advanced levels that are beyond baking soda. You need to look for other remedies which include but are not limited to guidance from agricultural extension officers.
Baking soda is a safer way to treat plants against fungal infections. The use of fungicides especially if the garden is found within the homestead is not always a good idea. Baking soda is a natural technique that most farmers should consider.
But total reliability on these kinds of solutions is not recommended. And remember that the solutions will only be effective if administered in required dosages and approved routines. Do not overuse baking soda simply because we’ve said it is natural and safe; it will become less effective due to frequent use.
Other plant routine maintenance activities such as pruning, proper drainage, mulching, crop rotation and sun exposure among others will help in making the baking soda effective for its intended use. Properly maintained plants are rarely affected by diseases.
Have you at any particular time treated your plants using baking soda? How were the results? Is there anything that you think we’ve left out? Let’s keep the conversation going. Sharing is caring.
Barbara Herring is a contributor at TheFilix, where she writes about everything from hydroponics and aquaponics to regular garden chores. She loves troubleshooting plant problems, and when she’s not knee-deep in her garden, she’s usually skateboarding, surfing, or playing with her cat.