Find Garden Remedies in the Kitchen

Learn how to combat garden pests with common items from the kitchen.

Gardening expert Marianne Binetti shares solutions for common pest-control problems that can be found in your kitchen cupboard.

  • Get rid of mites (you can see what they look like by turning over a yellowing leaf; they are the tiny dark specks) with a combination of one part rubbing alcohol and four parts water. Decant into a trigger spray bottle and spray the backs of the leaves. To help the alcohol mixture stick to the leaves, add just a little squirt of mild dishwashing liquid to the spray bottle. Use this spray on a cloudy day, if possible, to prevent the intensity of the sun from damaging the foliage.
  • For weeds in the cracks of sidewalks or patios, simply pour on plain old vinegar, which contains an acid that will kill the weeds quickly. Don't use straight vinegar on lawn weeds because it will damage the grass leaves.
  • Combat black spots on roses by using skim milk diluted with water in a half-and-half solution. Spray or dab the solution on the affected leaves with a paintbrush. This mixture prevents future black spots, but it won't eliminate those already there.
  • If you have worms on your organic produce such as kale, cabbage or lettuce, try using self-rising flour to get rid of them. Just scoop some flour into a small paper bag and punch some holes in the bottom with a nail head or ice pick. Shake over the affected plants. When the worms feed on the plants, they will also eat the flour, which will destroy their digestive systems.
  • If you have slugs on daylilies or hostas, use an ammonia mixture. Dilute the ammonia; use about 1/3 ammonia to 2/3 water and pour into a spray bottle. Spray into the crowns of the hostas. This will kill even the youngest slugs, and the ammonia converts into nitrogen and feeds the plants at the same time.
  • White flies are difficult to banish without a harsh chemical. Cover a tin can with yellow paper, which is very attractive to white flies. Cover the yellow can with a piece of plastic and smear with petroleum jelly. Stuff the can with newspaper and put it on a stake. Place it in the area where the plants are affected. Replace the plastic every few days with more smeared plastic. The flies will get stuck in the petroleum jelly when they try to reach the yellow can.

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