There is a saying that insects will inherit the earth. Well, in Florida they already have so we better just get over it.
You aren’t the only one looking forward to harvest time in your flower and vegetable gardens, so are your neighbors. I’m referring to insects, of course. And, you don’t want to be hosting a veggie buffet for all the bugs in your neighborhood.
Sure, there are effective pesticides that will quickly rid your garden of these hungry invaders, but before resorting to harsh chemicals, why not give some of these popular home remedies a try. Most were passed down through generations in my family, and the rest I picked up during long chats with fellow gardeners.
At dusk, place Romaine lettuce at the base of plants with obvious snail damage. In the morning, gently retrieve the snail-covered lettuce and toss out.
Sprinkle chicken grit at the base of snail-infested plants. When snails slide or move across it, the course texture cuts them, and they subsequently die. An elderly lady shared this tip with me, and claimed she’s never had reason to use toxic snail and slug baits in her garden.
Before discarding your used dill pickle jars, pour the remaining juice around your gardenias to promote flowering. Just one more reason to polish off another tasty jar of pickles.
If you’ve been growing tomatoes for a while, you’ve probably heard that marigolds help repel garden insects. Common knowledge is that if you plant them around your tomato plants, hornworm moths will become confused, and lay their eggs elsewhere.
Try planting garlic around blueberries, raspberries and roses. The strong scent is said to be an effective beetle repellent.
Plant lavender around your leaf crops, and its intense scent should eliminate any problems you’re having with white flies and aphids. Definitely bring some inside, too, and your house will smell heavenly for weeks.
A personal favorite of mine, and, not just on my plate with tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and garlic. Basil is also said to repel white flies, aphids and spider mites from garden tomatoes.
The strong smell of dill is believed to repel many insects. It is also the host plant (a plant female adult butterflies lay their eggs on) to the Black Swallowtail — one of Florida’s most beautiful butterflies and one of 10 varieties of swallowtails in Florida.
Funny story: One Friday night a while back, a friend of mine decided to chop up some fresh dill and sprinkle it into his homemade sauce. He put the remaining dill in a glass of water and left it on the kitchen counter. Then, he left town for the weekend. Upon returning home on Monday, he found mysterious black droppings all over his kitchen counter. Unfortunately for my friend, his fresh dill was infested with Black Swallowtail eggs. The eggs, of course, hatched into caterpillars. The hungry caterpillars proceeded to eat the dill, and soon after relieved themselves on his kitchen counter. Guess what the secret ingredient was in the sauce!
Planting nasturtiums alongside cucumber vines is widely thought to repel hungry leaf-eating beetles. Their bright leaves and vibrant flowers make eye-catching potted plants. Nasturtiums are edible, too, with a somewhat peppery taste.
Plant catnip between rows of radishes and eggplant, and say goodbye to pesky beetles. Share some with your cat, and you’ll have one happy cat. Seriously, cats love this stuff!
Planting parsley in your asparagus beds will help repel hungry asparagus beetles. Did you know that this pretty plate garnish is also very nutritious?
Most people don’t realize that 99 percent of the bugs in their garden are beneficial. Unfortunately, applying pesticides will kill the good bugs right along with the bad.
These past few years, Naples has been experiencing a white fly epidemic. The good news is that ladybugs, or lady beetles as they are called, have proven to be super white fly predators. In fact, I release 5,000 ladybugs into my garden every spring, which has all but eliminated unwanted pests. Last year, however, I had to release a few thousand more mid-season, which still beats dousing my garden with harsh chemicals.
I readily admit that these home remedies for your garden have not been scientifically proven. Nonetheless, there are legions of seasoned gardeners out there who swear by them. Give them a try, and you be the judge. If nothing else, companion plantings will add splashes of color and interest to your vegetable garden.
Like I always say, time spent in your garden is never time wasted. It’s supposed to be fun not experimental physics, and if nothing works, you are not harming anything.