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Saturday, January 9, 2010

Tips for the Garden

Epsom salts -- This is the perfect additive for tomato plants. It helps keep the plant blooming and the fruit firm. Use 1/4 cup per tomato plant per season

Pesticides: -- chemical, organic and home made Southern gardeners beware. If the system fails and farmers can't get their usual amount of pest control you might end up with an epidemic proportion of pests for a few years. Have something on hand. I don't like to use it either but it is better than starving. Check with local growers to see which pests are in your area. The local Ag department can help also. Organic and home made pesticides work wonders and are safer and cheaper. See list of home made pesticides at the end of this report.

Plastic -- A layer of plastic can extend your growing season and will make any spot under plastic a zone warmer. You need to get the good plastic. Have the local greenhouse get you a greenhouse film with UV inhibitors in it. The UV inhibitors will keep the plastic good for 4 to 5 years. If you have the lumber yard get your plastic, it will more than likely not have UV inhibitors and will last only 1 year. Pay more and get the good stuff.

Burlap -- I use burlap to cover the plants when we first bring them out of the house and to the garden. I leave it over the plants for 7 to 10 days until they are hardened off and can handle the wind and sun. Local craft stores have burlap by the yard, it is fairly inexpensive.

Alcohol Isopropyl -- Alcohol is a great pesticide and cleaner. Use for aphids, mealy bugs, scale, thrips and whitefly control. Mix ½ cup Isopropyl alcohol (70%) with 1 cup water and spray on leaves and pests. Alcohol can burn the leaves of certain plants. African Violets and apple trees are sensitive to alcohol sprays. Test a few leaves on your plant before you spray the whole plant.

Salt -- Common table salt can be used for an herbicide, to kill unwanted weeds. Mix 1/4 cup salt with a quart of boiling water and pour over weeds. Don't use this where you are going to grow plants, the salt content of the soil can get to high. Also you can pickle the weeds. Use 1/4 cup vinegar, 2 t salt and 1 quart of water. Mist onto weeds in the heat of the day.

Cardboard -- Earwigs like dark, tight places to hide in during the day. Lay some corrugated cardboard out in the garden where you have had earwig damage. The earwigs will climb into the cardboard to hide during the day. Collect the cardboard and burn it.

Wire - this can be used to make tomato cages and other supports in the garden.

Twine -- This can be used to tie up your plants, or keep the dog out. Tomato cages most tomato plants need some kind of support to keep the fruit off of the ground.

Blankets/ row cover -- In cold climates it is important to be able to cover the plants when that last late frost come by in the spring or an early frost in the fall. Plastic is a good cover as long as it doesn't touch the plants. Fabric is better. Your local nursery will have row covers and frost blankets made for the garden. The one that we sell at our nursery is called N-Sulate and it is made by DeWitt.

Shade cloth -- This can be used to keep the bugs off of your plants in the summer. Get the type with the least amount of shade. They come in 25%, 33% or 50% shade. The higher the % the more shade it makes. Local nurseries can get shade cloth for you.

Tires -- I use old tires hold heat in around the plants in the spring. It also stops some of the wind and you can put a board over the top of them at night if it is still freezing.

Rain barrel -- If the only water you get for the garden is from rain you will want a barrel at each corner of the house.

Wood -- Use this to make temporary covers for the plants at night. Also can be used to create shade for the plants when they are first set out. nails For building supports and to feed iron deficient plants.

Ammonia -- used for pest control.

Newspapers -- Newspapers are great for mulch in the garden and for making paper pots for your squash transplants.

Mouse traps -- To keep down rodent populations and to keep the cat from digging in the garden. Set traps out where you don't want the cat or dog.

Here are some home made recipes that use house hold items to control the garden pests, and some other great garden tips.

Bees or Wasps in the House -- Spray the insect with hair spray. The spray will stiffen their wings and they will plummet to their death.

Black Flies or Gnats -- Water soil with a mix of 1 teaspoon of ammonia and 1 quart of water. Do this every 3 days for 3 weeks.

Alcohol Sprays -- Use for aphids, mealy bugs, scale, thrips and whitefly control. Mix ½ cup Isopropyl alcohol (70%) with 1 cup water and spray on leaves and pests. Alcohol can burn the leaves of certain plants. African Violets and Apple trees are sensitive to alcohol sprays. Test a few leaves on your plant before you spray the whole plant.

Caterpillar Deterrent Citrus Spray -- Caterpillars don't like the taste of citrus, it's bitter chemicals run the caterpillars off. To make a citrus spray, grind up the rinds and seeds of any citrus fruit. Soak overnight in 2 cups of water. Strain out the pulp; add 2 t liquid soap to mix. Spray on plants.

Garlic Oil Spray -- Use for control over aphids, cabbage loopers, earwigs, June bugs, leafhoppers, squash bugs, and whiteflies. Mince 1 bulb garlic , soak in 2 t mineral oil for 24 hours, mix 1 pint of water with 1 T liquid soap , add garlic mix to water and soap , Mix thoroughly . Strain out garlic and place into a jar for storage . Use 1 to 2 T garlic oil mix to 2 cups water. Spray plants covering all leaf surfaces.

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