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Common household remedies request

My garden soil is full of mildew, TMV, name it, so part of my practice is to avoid splashing earth onto plant leaves wherever possible. And for my squash hills -- and I'm so proud of this, since I think for once I had a really original thought -- I recycled the tops of my wintersowing milk jugs: I just shove them into the hills top down, so they work like funnels. Then I can stick the hose into the milk jug and fill it up without splashing, and the water drains out the (capless) top, slowly if I throw some leaves in the bottom so the jug is more like a reservoir than a funnel.

So this works great, and my squash love it. Then I got the idea of adding stuff to the water, so I threw some dried blood in there, for nitrogen, and they loved that, too. So my question:

The squash are going to take up whatever I add to the water, and it's all going to be respired or incorporated into the flesh of the plant, one way or another. Is there anything natural I could add to the water that the kinds of insects that eat squash won't like? I'm thinking something stinky, like marigolds (although marigolds are not companion plants for squash).

NOTE Other milk jug tips. I especially like the one about burying jugs in the soil and filling them up periodically. It seems a lot more efficient than drip hoses, and it would target the individual plant. Reminds me of dew collectors in Dune.

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caseyOR's picture
Submitted by caseyOR on

Ollas are terra-cotta jugs buried in the garden and filled with water. The water slowly seeps through the olla to the roots of the plants. Ollas are an old Spanish/Mexican method of irrigation.

If terra-cotta seems too spendy, or you just have the milk jugs to use, here is a way to make ollas out of plastic milk jugs. Plastic water or soda bottles also work.

I planted the tomatoes and the cukes before I learned about ollas. So, no ollas this year, but definitely next year.

quixote's picture
Submitted by quixote on

Maybe add crushed garlic to the water? Or onion waste, such as discarded crushed greens. Most insects hate garlic, and some of the compounds are bound to be taken up by the squash. Of course, the garlic will rot and ferment in there, so it'll be a mess.... Other aromatics they're supposed to hate: tansy, fleabane I think.

Submitted by Elliott Lake on

up? Anything that would transport that directly into the flesh would make them taste bad to you, I think. And be wasted, really; you only need to keep them off the surface, to keep them out of the innards. There are some mechanical means that might work (dusting with diatomaceous earth comes to mind) but I would worry about the bees.

Garlic & similar won't make the plants taste bad by watering them with it, and while they might deter soil dwelling insects, you need to apply to the leaf surface for them to work as repellants for the leaves.

Attracting natural predators is good--birds, spiders, frogs, cats who munch bugs. Do you have a place you could have water for frogs and birds in the garden?

Submitted by lambert on

I don't want stagnant water, but I don't really like the fountains that just recycle the same water (unless they're solar powered, I guess).

My thought was too stop the addition when I saw flowers. But maybe you're right on the taste.

quixote's picture
Submitted by quixote on

which isn't very far (see "Just Guessing" above) the taste of garlic isn't noticed by human tongues in this case. Only insect taste receptors. Applying it to the leaves is also repellent to them, but it has to be taken up by the plant to be in its sap, so to speak. Plants do take up quite a bit through their leaves, so long as it doesn't rain too soon after application.

Submitted by Elliott Lake on

it, for example, that can be replenished when it gets near dry, is often enough for birds and frogs.
Or an upturned clay pot they can get under, that you moisten daily, as a toad hidey hole. Or providing mist for the birds to bathe in (though this would be uncomfortable in a humid climate I guess). They fast learn: chickadees come perch on the fence when they see me come to hand water the pots, and call for me to let them bathe in the fan-spray.

Do you have finches? Gold finches are super at getting bugs out of nests in plant leaves.

A non-city option is a chicken tractor, if you don't mind the noise. They will get all the bugs and cultivate too.

Submitted by lambert on

By a chicken tractor, you mean chickens actually in the garden? We allow chickens where I am. They won't eat the plants?

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

he is Teh Cutest. i've caught him on film once, not a good shot but proof he lives here. i hope he gets a mate and makes many little toads.

attracting toads in the city may be tough. have you though about buying frogs? a simple pan or birdbath or small water feature is easy, and solar powered fountains are very common these days, even attractive. i was told that i should check with the DNR to see if they have any frog/toad release programs. perhaps you could participate in something like that. but you're going to have to make a home for them.

a comment about greenhouses from the other thread i made.

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

same idea with those upside down glass globe thingees that were all the rage in container gardens a few years back. i use those, just cause they're cute. but yeah, a slowly seeping water container in the soil next to your plant is a great way to water efficiently and with less work.

Submitted by cg.eye on

It seems to be a practical workaround from having to saw and construct homebrew self-watering containers, with a lower water level, drainage and pipes.

Just a two-liter container in the corner ought to do the trick, along with the Earthbox specs for fertilizer, ground cover and moisture conservation....

Aeryl's picture
Submitted by Aeryl on

We found a bathouse for $16, we are going to get it and put it in this weekend.

Everything I've read though says a water feature helps though, so I don't know if you'd want to go for it.

But one bat eats something like 8 times its weight in insects, so YEA!

votermom's picture
Submitted by votermom on

if you are having fungal problems(?) have you heard about burgundy or bordeaux mixtures? They are traditional remedies used by grape growers in France.

here's one website about it

I don't have squash, but how about trellising or staking with something really sturdy? I have heard that some people use old nylon stockings/pantyhose tied to the stake/trellis to support the squash/melon.

Submitted by Elliott Lake on

nylons (after emergency fanbelt replacements and felting). Most melons, cukes and squash trellis really well; I've had to climb trees to harvest acorn squash that got out of control.

Yep, chickens in a moveable pen--they will eat some plants of course so you have to rotate their schedule and not let them in where you have young seedlings.

Bordeaux and other copper fungicides are old standbys, and milk is a good antifungal too; I think about a tablespoon per gallon of water, as a spray. We rarely get humidity here in the summer but get enough rain to have to use fungicides from time to time.