Natural Pest Control
Here are some of the kitchen-cabinet remedies for natural pest control:
FRUIT COCKTAIL-You can buy Japanese-beetle traps of all sorts, but most are no more effective in trapping these pests than a can of fruit cocktail. Open the can and let it sit in the sun for about a week to ferment. Then stand it on bricks or wood blocks in a light-colored pail. Fill the pail with water to just below the top of the can and put it about 25 feet from the plants you want to protect. The beetles,attracted to the sweet and potent bail, will fall into the water and drown. (If rain dilutes the fruit cocktail, you'll have to start anew.)
BUTTERMILK -The scourge of many outdoor ornamental plants, and indoor ones, too, is the mite, so tiny it would take 50 of them to cover the head of a pin. The most common one, the red spider mite, causes yellowing and stippling of foliage and twisting of leaf tips. There is a simple home cure that works on the ornamental plants and fruit trees. Mix 1/2 cup o buttermilk, 4 cups of wheat flour and 5 gallons of water and strain through cheesecloth. Sprayed a plant, the mixture destroys a high-percentage of mites as well as their eggs.
EPSOM SALTS AND BORAX -If you raise muskmelons that taste flat, the trouble could be a lack of magnesium in sandy soil. University of Maryland tests show that muskmelons can be sweetened by spraying the vines with a solution of borax, Epsom salts and water. Use 3-1/3 tablespoons of household borax, plus 6-1/2 tablespoons of Epsom salts, in 5 gallons of water. Spray foliage when the vines begin to "run" and again when fruits are about two inches in diameter.
SOAP, DETERGENT, TOBACCO. -Soap effectively controls fungus gnats, tiny black flies that may thrive in the soil of your house plants. Make suds of laundry soap, and pour 1/2 cup to 1 cup around the top of the pots. Any bar laundry soap will work, but naphtha soap works best. (my note, good old Fels Naphtha again to the rescue!) Soapsuds also make a fine killer of soft-bodies pests such as aphids. And nothing beats liquid dish washing detergent for getting rid of white flies, one of the worst pests gardeners have to contend with. Also called "flying dandruff," these snow-white insects, each about 1/16 inch long, congregate on the underside of leaves and suck sap. They also secrete a sticky substance that attracts a black mold and kills foliage. Mix 1 teaspoon of liquid dish washing detergent in a gallon of water and spray the undersides of leaves every five days for 15 days. Repeat once a week thereafter, until the insects are eradicated. If you're a smoker or use tobacco in any form, be sure to wash your hands with laundry soap before handling plants.
TOMATOES, PEPPERS,EGGPLANTS, petunias and other members of the Solanaceae family. The soap deactivates tobacco-mosaic virus which may be present on your hands and helps prevent it from spreading to plants. A plant that already has this virus must be removed and destroyed immediately. On the other hand, for garden plants and house plants (except those of the Solanaceeae family), you can't find a better aphid killer than nicotine. Soak two or three cigarette butts in a cup of water to get a brown "tea". Mix in a little soapsuds and dip infected parts of house plants in the solution or use it as a spray. Tobacco juice also is highly effective in killing such pests in the soil of house plants as symphilids, fungus gnats and spring tails. Pour a cupful around the base of the plant. (Caution: nicotine is toxic: keep the mixture our of the reach of children and pets.)
BLEACH -To protect ripening tomatoes from fungal diseases, wash them with a solution of 1 tablespoon of bleach to a quart of water, and dry with a paper towel. Wrap each tomato in newspaper, and store in a basket or tray in a cool place (any area with a temperature around 55 degrees). To sterilize your garden tools and old clay or plastic flowerpots, scrub them with a brush. Then soak them for a few minutes in a solution of one part bleach to nine parts water.
TALCUM POWDER -It you're plagued by rabbits, try dusting your plants with ordinary talcum powder. It also works like a charm in repelling flea beetles on tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and other plants.
GARLIC -If you're looking for ammunition to keep cats and dogs away, chop up a bulb of garlic or a large onion, add a tablespoon of cayenne pepper, and steep in a quart of water for an hour. Add 1 teaspoon of liquid dish washing detergent to help the mixture stick to the plant. Strain what you need into a sprayer or watering can and sprinkle it on plant leaves. The rest will remain potent for several weeks if refrigerated in a tightly covered jar. (Do not spray outdoors on windy days as solution may burn your eyes. Indoors, be careful not to breathe the fumes.)
VINEGAR -Azaleas and gardenias need an acid soil. If you live in a hard-water area, your plants may suffer from too much lime, causing leaves to turn yellow. Add 2 tablespoons of vinegar to a quart of water and pour a cupful or so around the base of a plant every two or three weeks until the yellow disappears. Vinegar is also useful in making a preservative for cut flowers. Mix 2 tablespoons of white vinegar and 2 teaspoons of cane sugar in a quart of water. Use in vase instead of plain water.
BEER -Placed in shallow pans flush with the ground, beer is a safe, inexpensive killer of snails and slugs. The pests crawl into the pans and drown.