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Home Remedies for the Garden

Author Sharon Lovejoy shares her tips on using household items to help prevent bug infestations and solve other garden problems.

Bug Bouncer

Bounce those bugs right out of your garden with a long-handled spatula or spoon. Go outside early in the morning with your beetle bouncer and a bucket of warm, soapy water. Look for infestations on roses, peonies, and other favorites. Hold the bucket below the bloom and gently whack the flower. The bugs will drop straight down and into your suds. Reuse the soapy water as a spray.

Funnel Away Beetles and Bugs

Arm yourself with a large funnel (or make one by cutting off the bottom of a plastic bottle) and attack cucumber and Japanese beetles and squash bugs early in the morning. Tie a bag to the narrow end of the funnel. Slip the wide mouth of the funnel beneath the infested foliage and shake the plant or blossom. The insects will slide down and into the bag. When finished, tie bag closed and drop it into a trash can.

Simple Earwig Traps

Pour equal parts canola oil and soy sauce into a shallow container and place in infested areas. Each morning arm yourself with a bucket of soapy water, check the lures, and dispose of the victims.

Bug Off

Suck pests off your plants and out of the air with a small, hand-held vacuum or a canister vacuum with a tube attachment. Hold the vacuum about 1 inch away from the leaves and pass it back and forth quickly above the pests. Empty the contents of the vacuum into a bucket of hot, soapy water.

Weed-Free Solutions

Attack broad-leafed weeds with a directed stream of vinegar. You may substitute vinegar with equal parts water and isopropyl alcohol (70 percent solution), but be careful not to spray any treasured plants. This works well for areas in stone or brick patios where you don't want grass or weeds. Drench the leaves with liquid. Cover nearby plants with newspaper to protect them from overspray.

The Tea Ceremony

Add leftover tea (or used tea bags) to your watering can. Chamomile tea is antibacterial and fungicidal and will aid plants suffering from fungus and mildew. Use this tea as a foliar spray and on tender seedlings to prevent damping-off. Sprinkle black or green leftover tea on acid-loving indoor plants such as azaleas, gardenias, and camellias.

Japanese Beetle Dance

These beautiful but devastating pests need no introduction. Get rid of them! Invest in the most important and lethal pair of sandals you'll ever own. They're called Lawn Aerator Sandals, and they're one of the best ways to destroy the grubs before they become beetles. After a rain when the grubs surface, slip on a pair of the sandals and dance wildly on your wet lawn.

Sharon Lovejoy's Spraying Tips:

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This segment appears in shows #2815.

Excerpt from Sharon Lovejoy's Trowel & Error: Over 700 Shortcuts, Tips & Remedies for the Gardener
© 2003 Sharon Lovejoy
Used by permission of Workman Publishing Co., New York
All rights reserved.

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Published August 31, 2007