Kitchen Fixes for Garden Problems

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


Solving garden woes is as close as your kitchen pantry—and free!

As an organic gardener the last thing I want around my veggies, fruits, flowers or free ranging chickens is a bunch of toxic chemicals. But, I still want to deal with the garden pests and problems that arise during the growing season. So, when I spy the creepy, crawlies, invaders, marauders or garden challenges I head to my pantry for the solution.

Getting rid of weeds — Plain white vinegar will kill weeds outright. But, be careful. It’s not selective and will also burn any plant it comes into contact with. For best results, spray on a sunny, warm day-75 degrees or more-and stick to non-planted surfaces like walkways, gravel or brick pathways, or in between cracks in cement. It won’t get down to the root, so a few applications may be needed. It’s a cheap way to forego Round-Up so keep plenty around.

Banish aphids and mites — These tiny pests can suck the life’s blood right out of vegetables, fruits, flowers and shrubs. If a plant has liquid in its leaves these guys will find it. To drive them out mix a few drops of liquid dish soap with water in a spray bottle and spray each affected plant generously. For larger areas mix 2-tbsps of soap with a gallon of water and pour into a pump sprayer.

Enriching sandy soil — Used coffee grounds, from your morning fix, can also fix sandy soil and increase water capacity by adding organic matter. The grounds can also improve the friability of clay soils. Simply dig them into problem areas. If your garden needs more than your morning brew can provide check out your local coffee house. Most Starbucks, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, and Peet’s Coffee locations offer used grounds for free, just ask.

Slaughter slugs — Slugs are attracted by the fermenting yeast in beer. Pour beer into a shallow pan like a pie tin and sink it into the soil. The smell will have slugs stampeding and maybe even dying happy.

Seasonal powdery mildew — Warm days and cool nights creates the perfect breeding ground for the mildew spores. And, the wind helps spread it from plant to plant. Mix a tbsp. of baking soda and 1 to 3 drops of horticultural oil in a gallon sprayer of water to help prevent the unsightly fungus. Spray both sides of affected leaves weekly for best results.

Eliminating earwigs — Earwigs are omnivores (plant eaters) and never live in the human ear as some old wives tales tell. To trap them, lay paper towel tubes, wrapping paper tubes or any type of cardboard tube filed with large diameter straws and place under plants where you see earwigs or earwig damage. Earwigs are active at night, so in the daylight they hide…in the tubes. Now you can grab the tubes, cover the ends with your hand and dispose of the earwigs. Some people even shake them into a bucket of soapy water.

Repelling wildlife — Ground squirrels, moles, gophers and even deer can wreak havoc on a garden. To ward them off sprinkle a generous handful of cayenne pepper on and around plants you don’t want them munching on.

Garden solutions are as close as your kitchen pantry and cost just pennies on the dollar.


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