Garden & Greenhouse July 2017 Issue - Page 55

FEATURESTORY by Mike McGroarty 2 Homemade Organic Garden Insecticide Recipes How do you prevent your garden from being a 24-hour diner for every insect that passes through the neighborhood? There are several chemical products on the market that will kill insects, but many gar- deners are hesitant to use strong chemicals on their plants. There are very effective organic insecticides and repellents available these days, and in a pinch you can make your own natural insect repellent. Most insects prefer a bland diet, so by making your garden spicy you can encourage insects to dine elsewhere. A hot pepper or garlic spray works great as a repellent and can actually prevent insects – and even hungry rabbits – from nibbling on your plants. STRAWBERRY TIPS FROM PLANTING TO HARVEST Strawberries thrive in a wide range of soils from heavy clay to light sand. They should be planted in an open area where they can receive sunshine throughout the day. Most strawberry beds will produce for 2-3 years. PREPARATION Before planting thor- oughly cultivate a bed to remove any perennial weeds and add manure to improve yields. Place a strawberry plant every 12-14 inches in rows that are 30 inches apart and water them thoroughly. CULTIVATE REGULARLY Hoe between the indi- vidual strawberry plants and the rows on a regular basis to prevent weeds. CONSIDER MULCH Mulching the strawberry bed helps retain moisture and prevents weeds. Straw mulch is the best choice because it also helps prevent the straw- berries from rotting if they are lying on the ground. GROWING IN BASKETS Strawberries can be grown in baskets to protect them from slugs. Five or six plants can easily survive in a single basket, as long as they are watered each day during the growing season. Supplement these strawberries with high potassium fertilize starting right before flowering and up to harvest. Strawberry plants in a basket will produce crops for consecutive years but they will not be as produc- tive in the second year. It is best to consider them as an annual crop and renew them each year. HARVEST Strawberries can rot quickly so pick them as soon as they are ready. Punctual harvesting also reduces the chances of attracting pests and diseases. Make sure to leave the green stalk on the strawberry plant when the fruit is harvested. Hot Pepper Spray To make hot pepper spray, toss a couple of hot peppers, such as cayenne or habaneros, in a blender with about a cup of water. Puree the mixture, strain out any solids, and then add enough water to make a gallon of concentrated hot pep per juice. To use the hot pepper spray, mix a quarter cup of the concen- trate with a gallon of water and a tablespoon or two of liquid soap. The soap will help the spray stick to the plants. Garlic Spray To make a garlic spray, roughly chop one or two garlic bulbs, place them in a quart jar and pour boil- ing water over the garlic, enough to fill the jar. Close the jar and let it sit overnight. Strain out the chunks of garlic and add the garlic water to your sprayer along with a few drops of liquid soap. Leftover garlic water can be kept frozen for later use. A good place to buy liquid soap for this purpose would be a health food store. Do not use a detergent or a heavily scented soap as these can be harmful to plants. Once you’ve made your insect repellent concoc- tion, test it on a few leaves first before spraying your plants. The hot pepper and garlic smell will be strong when first applied but will fade, and your flowers and vegetables won’t take on their odor or taste. The spray should be reapplied every week or two, or after a rainfall. GG Mike McGroarty is the owner of McGroarty Enterprises and the au- thor of several books. You can visit his website at FreePlants.com and read his blog at MikeBackYardNursery.com. Visit FreePlants.com PROTECT YOUR PLANTS AFTER HARVEST CARE Remove the straw mulch after harvest then remove all but the new leaves. Removing the old leaves allows more sunlight to reach the center of the plant which enhances yields during the next year. GG Hard-working Insect and Animal Repellents that also provide moisture loss protection. 800 627 6840 July 2017 www.GardenandGreenhouse.net hotpepperwax.com 55