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Household products can banish pesky garden problems

July is here and the garden season is booming, but with all the buds, blooms and produce abounding, the garden problems are also beginning to crop up.

Insect pests, diseases, and animal attacks are invading gardens everywhere and beautiful flowers and great vegetables that were so perfect one day can be quickly devastated the next. Luckily, the solution for many common garden problems may be in your bathroom or kitchen cupboard.

So, now that the flowers are planted and the vegetables are growing, here are some low-cost, time-saving ways to use things you may already have around the house or yard to solve those pesky garden headaches.


Banish harmful insects
• Pour white vinegar on anthills. The vinegar will drive out the ants.

• Mix 6 teaspoons of lemon juice with 2 cup of water in a spray bottle. Spray on plant leaves infested with aphids. The lemon will kill the aphids. (Try the spray on a small area of the plant first to make sure there is no damage to the plant.)

• To repel insects from plants, put a tablespoon of dish soap in a trigger spray bottle and fill with water. Shake well and mist plants and soil. (Be sure and test it on a small area at first.)

• To get rid of ants in the garden, sprinkle baking soda mixed with black pepper on the ant-infested areas around the plants.

• Place aluminum foil on the ground between plants and secure it in place with rocks. In the sun the shiny foil will repel aphids, spider mites, squash vine borers, etc.

• To kill earwigs, fill small saucers with vegetable oil and place around infested areas. The earwigs will crawl into the oil and drown.

• To repel Japanese beetles, mix one bottle of baby oil with 3 tablespoons of garlic powder in a trigger spray bottle. Spray the bases of rose bushes, fruit trees and berry bushes.

• Get rid of whiteflies by mixing equal parts of oil soap and water in a trigger spray bottle. Mist the affected plants.

• Trap wasps by sprinkling the sticky side of con-tact paper with sugar. Hang the papers where the wasps are a problem.

• An all-purpose insect repellant can be made from 4 garlic cloves chopped fine, one onion chopped fine, 1 tablespoon of dish soap and 1 quart of water. Mix all together and let set for 24 hrs. Strain and pour liquid into a spray bottle. Apply to infected plants. This spray is especially effective against insects in the vegetable garden.

• To kill slugs on plants mix 1-1/2 cups of ammonia and 1-1/2 cups of water. Place mix in spray bottle and apply to areas where slugs are active.

Keep animals out of your gardens
• Keep squirrels from digging up your bulbs by sprinkling newly-planted areas with a mix of garlic powder and Epsom salts (1/2 cups of each).

• To get rid of moles, toss moth balls into the mole runs and close up the ends of the tunnels.

• Keep deer out of your garden by sprinkling the soil with a mixture of dill pickle juice, crushed garlic and garlic powder. Deer can’t stand the smell. (I can’t say I would blame them!)

• Stir 2 uncooked eggs into a gallon of water. Spray the mix on plants to keep deer from chewing on them.

• Dust the ground around plants with talcum or baby powder to keep the rabbits away.

• Keep dogs out of your flower beds by sprinkling the soil around the flowers with red or black pepper.

• A tent of chicken wire placed over young vegetable plants will keep the rabbits from eating them.

• Grated orange, lemon, or grapefruit peel sprinkled on the soil in you flower beds will keep cats out.

• Keep rabbits out of fruit beds by sprinkling around the bed with black or red pepper.

• Repel cats by fertilizing trees, flowers and shrubs with coffee grounds or spraying around the plants with white vinegar.

• Pour used cat litter into gopher or mole holes. The smell of cat will act as a repellant to these critters.

• Mothballs scattered through a garden or flower bed will repel cats, rodents, and squirrels.


Pep up those plants and blooms
• Mix 4 tablespoons white vinegar with 2 quarts of water and use to water your azalea, rhododendron, and hydrangea plants.

• Pour leftover, cooled coffee on geraniums. A few drops a week will result in lots of healthy blooms.

• Put banana peels around the base of your rose bushes and cover with mulch. They encourage larger rose blooms.

• Ailing plants can be revived by pouring a mix of 2 tablespoons pancake syrup in 1 quart of warm water around the base of the plant once a month.

• Mix 4 tablespoons of Epsom salts in 1 gallon of water. Apply 1 pint to the soil around tomato plants about once a week until they begin to set blooms. This will increase the number and size of the tomatoes.

• Mix 2 tablespoons of molasses into a quart of warm water. Pour the mix into the soil around a sick plant. Do this once a month to revive the plant.

• Put used tea bags on the soil at the base of plants. Cover with mulch. Whenever you water, the bags will release nutrients into the soil until they degrade.

• Add 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil to the soil around ferns and palms. It will provide nutrients that encourage healthy, luxuriant growth.

• Mix 3-4 tablespoons Epsom salts to 1 gallon of water. Sprinkle this mix over pepper plants until the peppers set. This increases production.

• Add 2 cups of beer to 4 cups of water and pour this on the soil around azaleas, shrubs and ornamental grasses. It will enrich the soil and encourage healthy growth.

• Orange and grapefruit peels placed around the bases of rose bushes will increase the number and size of blooms.

• Coffee grounds scratched into the soil around azaleas or rhododendrons add acid to the soil and keep it loose and moist.


Knock out those weeds
• Kill vines or creeping weeds with an application of 6 teaspoons of Borax in 1 quart of water. Spray directly on the weeds.

• Pour boiling water on grass and weeds growing between the cracks in a sidewalk or between stepping stones.

• White vinegar is a very effective weed killer. It can be sprayed directly on weeds using a pump spray bottle.

• Sprinkle a mix of ground cloves and cinnamon around plants in moist, shady areas. The spices will fight mold, toadstools, and fungi.

• White salt poured on weeds will kill them effectively. Use it on a dry, sunny day.

• To fight diseases that attack the leaves and foliage of your plants, mix 2 tablespoons dish soap with 2 tablespoons baking soda. Mix with 2 gallons of water and spray on plant foliage.

• Mix 3 tablespoons of vodka with 2 cups of water in a 16 ounce spray bottle. Spray weeds well. The mixture will dehydrate the weeds.

• “Solarize” your weeds. Let the sun bake your weeds by covering them with clear plastic. Plastic wrap can be used on small areas. Wet the weeds well and cover with the plastic. Seal the edges with bricks or soil. Leave in place until the weeds are brown and shriveled.


Want more gardening tips for healthy, productive gardening? Visit www.organicgardening.com and www.plantea.com/moretips.htm.

As ever…happy gardening

If you have garden questions or tips for other gardeners, send them in to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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