Avoid this sprayer!
Assumptions are pretty rotten things all around. When I suggested to several students and clients that they use ZeroTol to control bacteria or fungus, I ASSUMED they would do it the way I did it: Fluid ounce measures filched from the kitchen years ago, long rubber gloves that went nearly to my armpits, a handy backpack pump sprayer, and muttering poetry I’d half forgotten under my breath while waving the sprayer wand around like an incantation. Skip any of those performances and I could never guarantee success.
About the product ZeroTol, though, I do admit being completely oblivious that there was a sprayer available that attaches to your hose and does a thoroughly dreadful job. In truth the ZeroTol sprayer is one of the only ways to avoid buying 2 ½ gallons of the stuff, and naturally several of those I was advising bought the sprayer. But the sprayer can offer such a bad and inaccurate concentration that one person reported burning moss with it (which should never happen with a proper mix). ZeroTol is seriously caustic at high concentrations. One friend left a jug of it uncapped and found the remains of a mouse dissolved in it. Many attachable sprayers need a certain hose water pressure to get the mix right, which ought to make you nervous. There are a number of variables that you have no control over and getting a good mix is simply a guess and a hope. Naturally I was appalled that I had unwittingly led some people to use this attachment.
Although this example is of just one product, it should be a cautionary tale for any one-time-use hose sprayer:
- When we use chemicals, get serious. And cheap hose-adapted sprayers are not for the serious.
Get set up to use chemicals right. You want to be in control of all variables. Use a one or two-gallon pump sprayer for a small collection, or a backpack pump sprayer for a modest sized collection. Rather than stealing the fluid ounce measures and teaspoon measures from your kitchen, buy a second set. Add your measured chemical. Drag up your hose and add water carefully to the line on your pump sprayer for the gallons you are calculating for. Mix thoroughly and apply under high pressure, don’t let it spit around after a few swift pumps. You want very fine mist, so pump it well. You can forget the poetry.
- Avoid hose adapter sprayers for biological control chemicals. Bad idea. The mix can be deeply inaccurate.
(A note about spraying: There are two broad categories of chemicals that we use for plants, contact and systemic. If you use a contact chemical be sure that you’ve completely coated the entire foliage surface of the tree. That means you’ll be poking your sprayer nozzle into holes in the foliage pads, spraying up underneath the pads, and making everything drip. If you leave a few leaves or needles unwetted, you’re just wasting your time. A systemic is very different in that it is translocated within the plant and usually has longer term protection. It can be brought into the plant by its foliage, but it can also be brought in by the roots. So that means spraying the whole tree, and possibly a drench with a watering can. So your tools might be different in applying different chemicals. Read your labels and do what they say.)