Help! My Plant is Sick!

Unlocking The Emergency Pest Control Protocol
That Knocks Out Plant Pests and Diseases Time and Again

emergency-ID-100116533In this short lesson I’m going to share a proven step-by-step Emergency Treatment Protocol that I use whenever I notice any signs of pests or diseases on any of my plants.

It’s amazingly effective.

Up until now, I’ve only shared this protocol with participants of my advanced two day food gardening workshop, but it’s so simple and so amazingly effective that I’ve decided to share it with a wider audience. That includes you !

But first some background to help you understand why it works so well

It fits into the big picture

One of the principles at the heart of my approach to food gardening is reducing the need to use spays and harmful chemicals at all. This may seem like a difficult – even unrealistic – goal to strive for, but food gardeners everywhere will attest to the fact that it makes gardening more enjoyable – and safer than ever.

In the big picture “healthy plants don’t get sick”

Given the opportunity, your plants have a cunning ability to keep themselves healthy. Even in the middle of summer, when pest problems are more severe, the crisis will pass and your plants will get another chance with each new season. Plants have been making use of these second chances – devising their own self-defence tricks – since time began.

In sound health, the natural defensive systems of plants are capable of easily repelling and coping with (even destroying) any potentially harmful organism (pest or disease) that may be encountered.

In the big picture “plants get sick when subjected to adverse conditions”, such as malnutrition, stress, adverse weather, etc., to the extent of exceeding the plant’s capacity to cope.

Once the plant is freed of the adverse influences responsible, it will immediately, without any outside help, commence to restore itself. And if at the same time optimum conditions of nutrition, water, sunshine, and fresh air are provided, the restoration will proceed at a surprisingly rapid rate.

As you use the Emergency Protocol, it’s important that you don’t lose sight of this big picture of food gardening.

Are you ready for the Emergency Pest Control Protocol?

Then fasten your seat belt because it’s unlike anything you’ve seen or heard before.

The treatment consists at 5 simple steps. The first three are all aimed at restoring the ailing plant’s natural immunity and the last two are aimed at alleviating the symptoms in the short term.

emergency-ID-100245341Step 1 (Immediately): Brew a pot of chamomile tea

Apart from being an excellent calmative and nerve tonic for humans –and pets – Chamomile is known as “the plant’s doctor”. Take a cup of tea yourself to soothe your nerves, and to give you time to assess the situation, let the remainder of the tea cool down, and give it to the ailing plant. It is a terrific pick-me-up for both of you.

I first spray the leaves, and then water the plant with the remainder. I’ll do this once in the morning and once late in the afternoon.

It’s important to apply the first three treatments as both a spray and a watering. Not only does it give the plant the opportunity to maximize its uptake of the treatment, it also treats the ‘soil life’ which may need a little support as well.

In severe cases – you be the judge of the severity – I’ll make a combo tea with equal parts of chamomile and lemon balm, and I’ll add a few drops of Bach Rescue Remedy to the combo once it’s cooled down. Again, I’ll give this twice.

Step 2 (1 day later): Give the plant a tonic

My first choice as a tonic is a seaweed or kelp spray.

These products are best described as growth enhancers and they make plants more pest resistant by improving their overall health.

They provide an extensive menu of nutrients such as iron and boron that plants need, in very small amounts, for proper growth and development. Plants can absorb these nutrients through their leaves which is a huge plus when a plant is under stress.

What’s more, these products also contain amino acids and enzymes that promote stronger growth and increase plant yields.

In all cases, mild or severe, I’ll only give one tonic treatment, consisting of both a spray and a watering at the same time.

Step 3 (1 day after step 2): Give the plant a multi-vitamin

My first choice is a home-made aerated compost tea and store bought fish emulsion combo. In the absence of the first, I’ll only give the fish emulsion.

In cases where I’ll be harvesting the plant within the next month or so, I’ll only apply this as a watering, I won’t spray the plant. But when harvesting is still a couple of weeks away I’ll also give the plant a spray.

You can also use any water-soluble fertilizer you have if you don’t have compost tea or fish emulsion.

Step 4 (1 day after step 3): Prune the plant if possible

Now that you’ve boosted the plant you can prune it back and remove and destroy the invested material. This rapidly reduces the pest population which gives the plant a chance to bolster its defences.

Obviously this step only apply to those plants that can be pruned at the growth stage they are at.

Step 5 (1 day after step 3 / 4): Give the plant meds

The aim of this step is to relieve the symptoms in the short term. That means spraying the plant with something that will kill the bugs.

Yes, that’s right; I’m going to use a “poisonous spray”. And before you roll your eyes and run for the woods, let me ask you a simple question :

When one of your loved ones is sick, and you have meds in your medicine cabinet that you know will make them feel better, will you refuse to give it to them?

Well, I love my plants as much as I love my family, and their health comes first. I don’t hesitate to reach for my apothecary when the need arises.

But here’s the thing:

  • I make 100% sure that my ‘diagnosis and prescription’ is correct
  • I follow the dosage to the letter
  • I only give meds to the person/plant that is showing symptoms.
  • And on edible plants I’ll only use non-systemic contact pesticides.

Off course, whenever possible I’ll use an Earth-friendly spray. But in the absence of the latter I won’t hesitate to use a “poisonous spray” to spot treat the affected plant.

There you have it , the Emergency Pest Control Protocol = soothe + boost + boost again + prune + spray.

In mild cases this protocol will knock out the pest or disease. Leaving you with a healthy and happy plant.

In more severe cases it will buy you more than enough time to pinpoint and address the cause(s) of the infestation or disease.

I have a bonus for you!

To help you win the battle against pests and disease I want to share another of my ‘secret workshop tools’ with you. It’s a modern twist on a 186 year old natural law.

When you apply this forgotten law to your food garden, you’ll be able to harvest loads of crispy fresh vegetables… armfuls of aromatic herbs… and baskets of sweet fruits… all from your own backyard, patio or balcony. Guaranteed!

Discover the 186 year old natural law…

Take Action

1. I know you haven’t had time to try it out, but what are your thoughts about this protocol. What do you like about it? What don’t you like? Do you have any questions? Please join the discussion below.



  1. Marietjie Van der Walt says:

    Hi Di-Di, I tried the chamomile tea treatment on my rosemary plant. Don’t have chamomile in the garden, had to use tea bags.
    It worked wonders. I have only one question. Will it also be effective on my cycads or must I use something stronger?

  2. Gerrit Middelberg says:

    I will try when I see there is a problem

  3. Noreen Schutte says:

    Hi Di-Di. I followed day one of the protocol. Moved to the second stage – used a seaweed decoction and then I did not have to worry about moving to any other stage of pest control. The Jack-russels ate the plant. Possibly a drastic means of pest control, but, something to keep in mind.

  4. Angela Brown says:

    Hi Di-Di – me again. I followed your protocol for some Australian bug that I found on my Lemon Balm. The next question that I have is – the two boosts – is it ok if they are the same products, or do they have to be two different ones. I used two different fish emulsions, but only different as in made by different companies.

    Thank you

  5. Davina Doyle says:

    Thanks, great advice, will definitely try it, but replacing poison with diluted oil-soap-garlic-chilli concoction.

  6. sally Higgs says:

    looks worth trying

  7. Joilee Fung says:

    Thanks for the great advice, I will certainly try it.

  8. Penelope Brown says:

    Just read the protocol – it sounds sensible. Can one grow chamomile – and if so how?

    • Hi Pepnelope. Yes you can grow your own. You can grow them from seed but it is easier (and quicker) to start with a plant or two. Try your local garden center for seeds and plants.

  9. Angela Brown says:

    Hi DiDi – I am finally able to get onto the page and read your protocol – which sounds fascinating. But I am really battling lately to understand things (old age) so I just want to check with you – the chamomile tea – must it be from fresh chamomile and if so what is the ratio – or can I use bought chamomile teabags??? I have some chamomile at the moment but it is very very small. Look forward to your reply


    • Hi Angela. Happy to see that you got onto the page. Fresh is the best (simply brew your normal pot of herb tea)… but store bought teabags is a worthy second choice.

  10. Yvonne Maree says:

    Hi Didi, glad to hear from you again. Will definitely try this out as I also do not like to use poison and all that ugly stuff. One thing that I have a problem with, worms that crawl inside the leaves and destroy it from inside. Will this remedy destroy or bewilder them?

  11. Gwen Burger says:

    Hi Di-Di, Nice to hear from you, I thought you forgot your old friend. I use a mixture of chillies, garlic and water. Boiled together and strained and then a drop or two of dish washing soap and a bit of oil. Works like a bomb.

  12. Jen Inglis says:

    Hi Di-Di, Can a person give the plants the chamomile tea even when the plant is healthy, just after planting?

  13. Miriam Beaurain says:

    Thanks Di-Di for the information. I never use chemicals or sprays on my plants.
    Try to go green as possible. I use sometimes rooibos tea on my plants and it works for me.

  14. jana kadunc says:

    I think it is a very good protocol: boost health first, kill later 🙂
    Many gardeners will go for reverse approach, thinking that health and immunity tonics will also feed the pests so they can spread even faster. So first spray and cut – later save the plant (if there is anything left to save).
    thanks, be well

  15. cindy Grice says:

    Found the items needed. I will give it all a try. Thank you very much.

  16. Pamela McGurk says:

    I’m so glad the aphids are going to be stressed out by this protocol. By Broccoli and my tummy will be very happy for this remedy – chamomile already in the pot 😉

  17. Hannie Webb says:

    Hi Di-Di thanks for information, I will sure try it out! It is now nine years that I have started my vegetable garden on your Go-food-gardening principals. I don’t use any chemical fertilizers or poisonous sprays but at times feel so powerless to control some pests! Kind regards, Hannie

    • Hi Hannie. It’s great hearing from you. Yes, we’ve been refining this for many years now. And I’ll be the first to admit that there are still times when one feels powerless. But hey… that’s what chamomile is there for… 🙂

  18. Minnie Potgieter says:

    Di-Di, I am in desperate need for advice to save my lemontree. It is busy dieing out. The tree is covered in lice. Brown, hard ones. Some of tehe leaves forms bubbles. I tried 4 different home brewed remedies. Nothing helped. My heart is dieing for my tree. It is +- 8 years old. I hope we can save it. Thanks.

  19. Joel Gonsalves says:

    Thanks for the info. I will have to tweak the ingredients, depending on what is available locally, I’m from Bombay, India.

  20. Janet Webb says:

    Hi long time no hear!
    Will deffo try this out.

  21. Jacquie Nutt says:

    Hi Di-Di, Thanks so much for this. Will let you know if/when I have to try it out. However can you please clarify Step 3 – is there a typo?
    “In cases where I’ll be harvesting the plant within the next month or so, I’ll only apply this as a watering, I won’t spray the plant. But when harvesting is still a couple of weeks away I’ll also give the plant a spray.” Did you mean if you are harvesting in the next WEEK…?

    • Hi Jacquie. It’s great hearing from you. Thanks for pointing that out. You are very perceptive. It’s a yes and a no, as it will depend on the crop. But you are absolutely correct, that reads like gobblygedook :-).

  22. Anton Cloete says:

    Hi Di-Di,
    I love your “soothe, boost, boost, prune” routine, and will definitely try it out. In stead of jumping to the poisonous stage though, I use eco-friendly sprays like 1% hydrogen peroxide (food grade) or soap / cayenne pepper sprays. I have not had to resort to Earth-damaging poisons in over 20 years.

    Glad to have you active again, and thank you for sharing this protocol with everyone!

    • Hi Anton. Thanks for sharing. I wish everyone will take your words about not using poisonous sprays to heart. Or should I rather say: ‘Believe it really is possible’? We’ve been using the “soothe, boost, boost, prune OR dump” routine in our commercial herb growing operation for the past 16 years. And yes, it works for us.


    Hi Di-Di
    Thank you so much for this info. I have many gardening friends and DEFINITELY be sure to share this with them. Natural is always best.
    Hopefully we will have some more SAHA fans in the near future. After all it is a growing business.

  24. Karel de Waal says:

    Good morning Di-Di, Thanks for the “recipe”. I am definitely going to try it. I have now, for 10 or more years, not used any pesticides or fungicides, also no chemical fertilizers, only compost & kraal manures. I have leant that, if you do not accept that you must plant for the “goggos” as well, you will go mad! I will let you know how it goes once I have used the “recipe”. Best regards, Karel

  25. Ken Foyn says:

    You mislead me ….. I grow Organic vegetables utilizing the Hydroponics system …. any kind of “Poison” will recycle into the fish pool and naturally Kill the fish !!
    Oh well, back to the drawing board. (Especially trying to grow cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower successfully)

  26. Ava Ander says:

    Great tips. I like the plant tonic that is given back to the plant. I use compost tea and fish fertilizer for my plants as well. Sometime the aphids are hard to get rid of.
    Thanks Di-Di

    • Yes, aphids can be persistent Ava. They have a very short life cycle that enables them build huge populations very quickly. But when you ‘stress’ them enough, like you’ll do with this protocol, they’ll soon find greener pastures elsewhere.

  27. Anna Kitzler says:

    Hi Di-Di

    Many thanks for the info I will try it out and let you know. I do like the idea of non-poisonous.



  28. Olof Bekker says:

    Good to hear from you again.

  29. Carolyn L Gasefete says:

    What kind of poison do you use?

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