Monday, May 10, 2010

Seven nontoxic and pet-friendly garden remedies

It’s that time of year to begin gardening, and we always seem to encounter a few hiccups after the winter.

In my landscaping business, we specialize in pet-friendly yards and encourage others to use natural remedies to eliminate pests and other gardening problems that you may encounter.
Seven helpful hints to combat common garden headaches

1. Aphids (plant lice): Fill a water spritzer with water and two tablespoons of dishwashing liquid. Spray the plant, particularly on the underside of the leaves where mites hide. For large-scale infestations, place up to 4 tablespoons of dishwashing liquid in a hose end sprayer and douse the affected plant focusing on the underside of the leaves. Place aluminum foil at the base of your plants to deter aphids. The foil will reflect light onto the leaf bottoms and scare the aphids away. Plants that discourage aphids are chives, marigolds, mint, basil, and cilantro.

2. Deer: Place some soap shavings or used cat litter along the ground to create a boundary between the deer-grazing area and your garden. Also try hanging a salt lick in their path to distract them from your plants. Blood meal also deters them but must be reapplied if it rains or is irrigated.

3. Natural herbicide: Vinegar (any type of vinegar) acts like an herbicide. Apply when temperatures are above 70°, and you will see its affect within a week or two.

4. Mice: Peppermint, mint or cloves will deter mice and rats. You can either plant mint, (careful, it’s very invasive!) or soak strings in mint essential oils and place around areas where mice frequent. This technique is especially helpful in areas around compost bins. Eliminating food sources will also deter rodents, as will adopting a shelter cat, of course.

5. Rabbits: Sprinkle chili pepper around plants (it must be reapplied if it gets wet). Install oven racks around plants. Rabbits tend to dislike their texture and the way that the racks feel on their feet. Thorny or textured plants will also deter rabbits. Choose plants such as, lavender, sage, barberry and evergreens.

6. Ticks and fleas: Mint and lavender deter fleas and ticks. Also, install cedar chips in your garden. They smell great to you … but not to fleas and ticks!

7. Wake up your lawn with this tonic:
1 can beer (not light beer)
1 cup ammonia, regular household strength
1 cup plain liquid dish soap, not liquid detergent or antibacterial
1 cup any brand liquid lawn fertilizer
1 cup molasses or corn syrup: provides sugar and carbs; molasses also contains iron, which promotes greening process

Combine ingredients in a 20-gallon hose-end sprayer and apply evenly to the entire lawn in early mornings or late evenings.

It’s best to apply after mowing. Applications may be done every two weeks during the entire growing season.

t’s that time of year to

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