How to Use Homemade Garden Sprays Safely
Making your own organic, environmentally-friendly and low-toxicity sprays at home is a healthy and budget-conscious alternative to commercially produced sprays. Although most of these organic, homemade sprays are safer on the whole, care still needs to be taken in handling and using them, given that any concentrated form of plants and organic products does carry some potential for risk if mishandled.
Use appropriate containers.Always use containers that are clean and intact. Do not use containers with cracks, split parts or loose parts.
Make sprays in containers earmarked for this activity only.Given that the contents of some organic sprays are more toxic when concentrated than the plant in its original state, do not use your cooking pots and pans to make organic garden sprays. Visit the thrift store and buy a pot for this purpose and write clearly with a permanent marker "Spray-Making Pot - Do Not Cook With" on the side.
Label clearly.This is probably the most important aspect of storing any garden spray. If everyone knows what the container contains, they are immediately aware of how to deal with it. It also helps you to remember long after you have a made it. Your labelling should include:
- Date of manufacture
- Use instructions (can be as simple as "spray on roses"
- Any relevant warnings and medical advice
Story away from children and pets.As with any gardening product, keep well out of the reach of children and pets. A lockable cupboard is the best option.
Protect yourself.Always cover up when using an organic garden spray. This will protect your skin from contact with what may be an allergen for you. While the plant may not affect you in its normal state, when concentrated, you might suffer a reaction if it gets on your skin.
Avoid inhaling organic sprays.It is important to never inhale anything sprayed in the garden, organic sprays included. Spray away from your face area and stand to one side of the spraying. Do not spray on days of high wind or heat. If you are concerned and suffer from allergies, rashes etc., it may pay to don mask and safety glasses when spraying.
Spray only what you need to spray.Do not overdo spraying - even organic, low-toxicity sprays can be overkill for a plant if you use too much. It can also harm surrounding plants and beneficial insect life, and possibly harm pets, so stick to the usage guidelines.
Wear gloves and wash your hands.Wear gloves when handling and using organic sprays. And it still pays to always wash your hands at the end of every gardening session.
- It is best to use glass or ceramic storage containers. These are the least reactive to chemical constituents in a spray. Plastic containers may leach and change the composition. Less plastic in your life is a good thing anyway!
- Wash gloves and gardening clothes regularly to keep clean and free of possible contaminants.
- On the whole, it is best to make only as much spray as you need for the job at hand - this saves having to worry about storage at all.
- Discard any unused organic garden sprays within one month unless otherwise indicated. Their effectiveness diminishes with time and they risk becoming rancid unless they are have specific preservatives.
- Always follow the instructions carefully when making your own homemade organic garden sprays.
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