Friday, June 12, 2009

The Practical Herbalist: Natural Pest Control

Last year, I planted white sage outside my front door; it seemed to be growing quite well, until one morning I step outside with a cup of coffee and one of the plants is missing. No roots, no broken leaves, and no signs of disturbed earth. Just gone. This continued every night until all but one remained, and I was utterly paranoid, peeking out of the windows, up all hours of the night to see what the heck was going on.
Towards the end of summer, I had visions of a Beetle Juice type worm-monster living in the planter, and somehow sucking the sage through the ground. Arrgh. Winter hit, and the mystery had to wait for another season.

This year, I tried calendula in the same planter, first investigating the dirt thoroughly for cutworms, excess pine needles (bends the soil ph atrociously). Satisfied, I transplanted the flowers and waited. Woke up to petals scattered across the gate, all over the ivy, and the flowers all had broken stems.

It was squirrels. Freakin' squirrels.


Make a strong tea with African Bird Peppers, allow it to cool, and thoroughly coat the plants with it, sprinkling the leftovers on the surrounding ground.

The hairy little freeloaders weren't too happy about the added condiments, but it is an excellent pesticide-free deterrent!

Other tried and true favorites are vinegar for black spot (happens on a lot of the tomatoes here) but requires frequent reapplication, and Murphy's Oil soap to get the Japanese beetles from devouring your roses. Companion planting, the lady bugs and the snakes take care of just about everything else :)

Have any faves' to share? I'd love to hear them!


Greymentality said...

Thanks for the helpful tips. We only have three tomato plants, but darn it...we want to taste those homegrown-flavored tomato sandwiches. So far, so good though as to the bugs.

The japanese beetles love our gladiolas, and they're just now sprouting. I'll keep the advice in mind this season.

PS-I hear squirrel stew is quite tasty. :)

Magaly Guerrero said...

Funny! Yesterday, I was giving my tomato plant (yes, I said TOMATO, single plant. I live in the city, not much space). Anyway, I was giving it a vinegar bath, for a few black spots, my next door neighbor was staring at me:

Me: Hi
Him: Would that make the tomatoes grow salad ready?
Me: (Fake a smile at the bad joke)

I love how we can take care of nature's nuisance, naturally! I use dried lemon balm to repel those tiny annoying flies that seem to be in love some of my herbs too.

toadbile said...

I tried dusting the garden with dried blowfish bladder but the sqirrels did not become an army of obediant rodent slaves. Back to the laboratory...

Magaly Guerrero said...

Just stop to let you know that I love your blog, so I gave you an award ;)

Celestite said...

Were the squirrels EATING the sage? Nothing eats sage!
Maybe they were using it for a cleansing ritual.