by Barbara Kozlowski, Master Gardener
It’s as though summer has arrived and our growing season is in full swing. Local fields have been plowed and planted and our local Ellicottville Farmers’ Market opens today! I really enjoy stopping by and being able to purchase from friends and neighbors. Absolutely delicious produce and more. Mark your calendars and take time to stop by on Fridays any time from 2 p.m. to 5 or 6 p.m., depending on if they sell out early. Come early for the best selection!
The summer heat and rain bring out some of our gardens’ enemies in the form of harmful (and beneficial) insects, slugs and snails. If you have a small garden, you can cover your plants with a sheer material such as cheesecloth to protect them from harmful insects but allows the plants plenty of sun. Slugs and snails can be held at bay by using copper strips (available at garden centers) or by using citrus shells or small dishes of beer to lure them. An eggshell barrier also works to keep slugs and snails away from your plants. Just place a generous barrier of coarsely crushed eggshells in a circle around each plant.
To control aphids, frequently spray these plants with a garlic spray. A garlic spray also works well on pets to keep them free of fleas and other biting insects. Other ways to protect plants is to combine garlic with roses to prevent aphids from attacking them. Cucumbers are aided by nasturtiums, marigolds and radishes also help to repel harmful insects from your garden.
To invite beneficial bugs and birds to your garden to pollinate fruits and vegetables, add a birdbath and keep it filled with fresh water. Spray your garden with a sugar spray made by dissolving ¼ cup of sugar in 1 cup of water, then add to 2 quarts of water and spray with a pump-type garden sprayer to spray your garden. When you use this type of sprayer, be sure to label the sprayer and use it just for this purpose. Lady Bugs (not the Asian beetles) are attracted with zinnias.
We all experience biting insect problems during the summer months. Citronella, lavender and eucalyptus oils can help to keep biting insects at bay without the toxic side effects of chemical repellents. Pick up essential oils and witch hazel to make a natural insect repellent. The recipe is: 1 ½ teaspoons each of citronella and lavender essential oils, ¾ teaspoon eucalyptus essential oil, 1 teaspoon jojoba oil and 8 fluid ounces distilled witch hazel. Combine the oils in a spray bottle, shake well then add the witch hazel and shake again. Spray on your body and clothing, avoiding your eyes and mucous membranes. Essential oils can be purchased from Wegman’s or may be available in some health food stores. (The brand I use is Aura Cacia and is purchased from Wegman’s.)
I recommend purchasing a book on natural remedies or, if available, borrow one from your local library. The information is invaluable and will help to keep your garden and home toxin free. Enjoy your garden!