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Saturday, September 3, 2011



While watching a movie depicting the struggles of early settlers in the 1600s, there was an interesting scene showing a 
group of women planting a garden with the help of Native Americans, who were tossing a fish into each hole before 
transplants were put into the ground.  It brought back memories of how decades ago, I used the water from my 
 large aquarium to fertilize my perennials, spread the ashes from our fireplace to amend the soil, and mulched 
everything with compost made from the leaves of our trees.  The good old days!  Nowadays, I put on my reading glasses
and search the labels of the myriad bottles and bags lining the shelves in the garage to find the right chemical for treating 
whatever  may ail  the garden.  Are my 
gardens vastly improved?  No.  Is it less 
costly?  No.  Is the environment better 
because of it?  No.  
I am making it my mission to go back to grandma's old tricks, that being said I know some of them are quirky,and can't possibly work, but I'm gonna give them a fair shot anyway. Here are a few...

1. Carefully sprinkle diatomaceous earth around plants to prevent slugs from feasting on them.  Reapply after rain. 

2. Mouthwash is a good fungicide.  Dilute it 4:1 with water and spray for black spot and powdery mildew.
3. Homemade insecticidal soap works better and faster than commercial insecticidal soap on aphids, spider mites, and 
whiteflies.  Recipe: 1 tablespoon liquid dishwashing detergent + 2 drops cooking oil + 1 gallon water.  Spray tops and 
bottoms of leaves once a week.
4. Neem is a good insect repellent that is non-toxic to animals and humans and beneficial to bees.
5. Japanese beetles can be knocked off the plants in the early morning (before they are able to fly) into a bucket of 
soapy water which kills them.  Also, a milk jug with the top off and beetle mix in it will trap them.  Recipe: 1 cup water 
+ ¼ cup sugar + 1 mashed banana + 1 package yeast.  
6. Control weeds between bricks or in sidewalk cracks by spraying with a vinegar solution.  Recipe: Combine 1 cup salt 
+ 1 teaspoon liquid detergent + 1 gallon vinegar in a bucket and sprinkle or spray over weeds.  This is also very effective 
on poison ivy.
7. Keep garden bed weeds from sprouting by laying down newspaper and covering with a thick layer of mulch. 

8. Make sow bug traps with a small plastic container with lid and 2 teaspoons of cornmeal.  Cut a small hold at base of 
container, large enough and close to the bottom to allow sow bugs to climb in.  Add cornmeal to the container, cover 
and place in infested area.  After feeding on cornmeal, the bugs will drink and explode!  Bam!
9. Mosquito dunks (Bt briquettes) will prevent mosquitoes from breeding in your water gardens.  Each briquette treats 
100 square feet of water and lasts 30 days. 

10. Grow flowers and herbs beside vegetables.  Flowers attract pollinators, enhancing fruit production and beneficial 
insects to destroy pest insects .Common sense hugh. 

11. Use soaker hoses and/or drip irrigation rather than overhead watering to reduce the risk of powdery mildew on 
herbs and flowers. I have mine attached to recycled whiskey barrels that I made into rain barrels on each corner of my house attached to the downspouts .What's better than FREE untreated water ! 

12. Use coffee grounds to mulch around acid-loving plants such as blueberries, azaleas and dogwoods.  Dig a banana 
peel into the ground beside each rose bush.

By gardening using organic methods, we become good products to the environment.  There is no single right or wrong way to garden.  It is up to each of us to choose the combination of methods that is safe and effective.

                                 Happy Gardening Ya'll!!