By Sharon Lovejoy
You don't have to buy expensive and sometimes poisonous products to
banish weeds, harmful insects and fungus from your garden. Here are 11
cheap, safe alternatives using common household items...
Wrapped around your hand with the sticky side out, adhesive tape (any
type) is a handy device for taking pests off plant leaves.
White glue works like a liquid bandage to seal cuts in plants
such as rosebushes after you've pruned them. If large cuts aren't
sealed, they can attract harmful insects or organisms that can
container. Fill the container with a mixture of one teaspoon of
borax (boric acid) to 10 teaspoons of pancake syrup. Put the cap on, and
punch an ant-sized hole in the lid. The result is an effective "ant
motel" that traps some ants and lets others carry the toxic mixture back
to their nests. Caution: Don't use this where pets or young
children can reach it.
Set them out at night as lures for slugs and snails, which are
especially destructive to seedlings. In the morning, put the filled
rinds in the trash.
Hot red pepper
powder. Cabbage, broccoli and related vegetables are vulnerable
to many types of insects, including cucumber beetles and leafhoppers. To
protect the plants, spray them weekly with a mixture of two tablespoons
of hot red pepper powder, six drops of liquid soap and one gallon of
yardstick. A small mirror attached to a yardstick with an
adhesive such as Goop lets you reach far into the garden to detect
insects, such as mealybugs, which often lurk under leaves.
Mix equal parts of soy sauce and canola oil in an empty sardine
can or any other low-sided container to attract earwigs, destructive
bugs that also have a nasty bite. Set out the traps at night, and throw
them away in the morning so they don't harm butterflies and other
beneficial daytime insects.
The curved, serrated blade is more effective than any weeding
device I've tried for container and small gardens. You can easily remove
shallow-rooted weeds without harming plants.
Make weeding a top priority early in the season when weeds
are young and easier to pull.
To kill broad-leafed weeds, spray white or apple cider vinegar on them,
preferably during the hottest sun of the day. Cover any nearby plants
with newspaper to shield them from the spray.
FUNGUS AND MILDEW
Tomato and potato plants are particularly susceptible to fungal
infections. Spray early in the growing season with a mixture of one
teaspoon of baking soda, one tablespoon of mineral or canola oil and one
gallon of water.
Mix one cup of milk to nine cups of water to make a spray that rids
plants of mildew. Apply twice a week.
sprays on a portion of a plant before applying it to the entire
surface. Monitor the plant's response for a few days to check for
If a spray calls
for soap, use only a mild one. Try Dr. Bronner's, Fels Naptha
or any pure Castile soap available in health-food stores.
leaves by applying sprays early in the morning and never when
the temperature is above 85°F.
gloves when using any sprays containing peppers, alcohol,
citrus concentrates, mint oils or anything else that could irritate
skin. When spraying in breezy conditions, wear eye and nose protection.