by germinatrix | April 4th, 2009
Bugs! Pests! Critters! Varmints! All bad things for the organic gardener, because we can’t just go to our local big box hardware store and get a bottle of poison and take care of business in one fell chemical swoop. For us, it’s a little harder work, but in the end we know that what we are doing doesn’t damage our environment. We can be comfortable with our children and pets playing in our yards, and we know that the food we grow in our vegetable gardens are wholesome and safe to eat.
Yesterday I was on The Bonnie Hunt Show – I’ve done it a couple of times before, and it is really great; not just because everybody is sweet and fun, but because Bonnie is an honest to goodness gardener who is VERY committed to organic practices. I was on the show with some tips on getting rid of the creepy sucky icky pests that inevitably attack our food crops and ornamentals, and everything we made on Bonnie’s show is easily available, either in our kitchen, our on/in our bodies (more on THAT later!)
The first gun in our Organic Arsenal was SLUG BEER. The prop dept built me a tabletop garden full of lettuces and herbs, and unleashed a buttload of snails and slugs right before the segment. Bonnie, who is really tough around worms, got very squeamish – and who can blame her? Slugs and snails are the GROSSEST things ever! They have a huge appetite for decaying matter and soft green leaves, and they can destroy a bed of lettuce in no time flat. Awful, awful creatures! Let’s kill them all! (sorry PETA)
So, I had Bonnie sink a pie tin in the middle of our tabletop garden, and in it we poured some beer. See, Snails and slugs are drunken bastards. They LOVE beer – it’s the yeast in it that attracts them. When you do this at home, rig up your ‘beer pool’ in the evening, because these slimy creatures are most active at night. Then in the morning, you are going to find your beer pool full of snails and slugs that died a happy, alcoholic death. Just pick up the pie tin and throw it away! SNAP!
The next weapon is the classic organic garden spray – Cayenne Pepper/Garlic Bug Killer! You can use this to kill all soft bodied sucking insects like aphids, mites, spittlebugs, and whitefly. Just check out the picture above – one little rosebud has ALL of those creeps on it! This spray will do them in! Here is the recipe:
3 cups warm water (needs to be almost hot to dissolve the pepper)
4 cloves garlic
2 heaping teaspoons cayenne pepper (powdered)
1 squirt low- phosphate dishsoap
Blend this in a blender REALLY well – you don’t want any chunks clogging your spray bottle. Now go outside (again, in the evening) and spray the leaves, the stems, and don’t forget the crotches of the leaves – bugs love to hide there. Leave the concoction on overnight, and hose it off in the morning. You will have aphid -free plants. Do this whenever you see an infestation starting, and you won’t be overrun by them.
Another great thing to do, especially for aphids, is to release ladybugs! I do it every year – you can have your own cute little army of aphid killers!
Now we move on to the bigger pests – the varmints. Possums, squirrels, rats – they need to know that there is a bigger, badder predator around. So another old garden tip is the use of something that grows right out of the top of our heads – hair. Yes, human hair – just sprinkle it around the base of the plants that the varmints like to eat – tomatoes, cukes, strawberries, etc… and they should get the message.
But let’s say they don’t. And if you have the worst of all critters – like deer and racoons – well, they are bad-asses. So when all else fails – PEE ON IT!. Yes, human urine has long been used as a barrier method to keep the ravenous hordes away from vegetable gardens. Urinate for the good of the earth! Don’t use chemicals – use PEE!
Of course there are so many more old garden tips to get rid of pests of all types – if you have a good one, leave a comment so we can all add it to our bag of tricks!