Tips and Tricks

IPM 101

posted Aug 21, 2011, 2:06 PM by Stacey M

Integrated Pest Management also known as IPM is an ecological approach to crop management in agriculture to solve problems with fungus, insects, mold or any other situation that may be considered a pest. IPM incorporates natural environmentally friendly techniques with modern pest management to create a sustainable plan for a maximum harvest. IPM is used throughout the word and it’s developers have been honored by the United Nations with the World Food Prize. 

There are three stages to IPM, prevention, observation and intervention. The idea of IPM is to control the pest population not to eliminate it. What we think of as pests, other animals think of as food. If you kill one small thing it can lead to a chain reaction that will kill your food as well. Remember that we need insects to pollinate our plants or we will not have fruit and vegetables to eat. We need bacteria to break down waste for compost or we would have no fertilizers. It is all a cycle.

Step 1: Prevention
To prevent the spread of unwanted disease, bacteria and insects you should select your plants from local distributers. Not only does this ensure you are helping your local businesses, but you are more likely to find a plant that will grow well in your local enviroment. Also by choosing heirloom variety seeds and plants you are likely have much more flavorful results!

Step 2: Observation
The cornerstone of IPM is watching your plants! This is broken down into two steps. First is Inspection, Second is Identification. Be sure to check your plants everyday for signs of insects or spores. If your plants have damage on them be sure to identify the type of damage. You can do this by looking at educational websites, entemology and gardening books or contacting your local cornell co-operative extension.

Step 3: Intervention

Once you have identified the type of damage on your plants and have determined that it is at an unacceptable level it is time to take action. If you only have a few plants you may consider picking off the bugs, using fly paper or traps, or hoeing the ground around the pants to disrupt breeding. You may also consider attracting some beneficial insects by planting certain types of vegitation or getting some biological insecticides.

Charts of beneficial plants, what bugs they help repel, and how well they attract pollinators.


Organic Sprays and Dust

Deer Control

posted Aug 21, 2011, 1:49 PM by Stacey M   [ updated Aug 21, 2011, 2:53 PM ]

On average deer consume 5 pounds of vegetation each day. Needless to say, that can be detrimental do your garden and landscaping. Deer are especially a problem in suburban areas where it is illegal to hunt and there is no population control. So here are a few tips that may help repel them from your plants and back into the fields. However do remember that deer are creatures of habit, they will continue to revisit the same areas as long as they find food there. If you chose to use a spray a heavy rain will wash it away and you must reapply it. Keep in mind you are changing their habit so you must to be persistent in your tactics to repel them. 

Garden and Landscaping Spray. Combine the following ingredients: 
  •  1 whole eggs 
  • 1/4 water 
  • 1 cup vinegar 
  • 1/2 cup diced hot pepper OR 1 head chopped garlic 

Pour the mixture into a pump bottle, let set overnight then spray on plants. The egg will make the mixture stick to the plants and the strong oils from the garlic or hot pepper will repel nibblers. If you feel the mixture is not sticking add more egg, since egg sizes and moisture vary. Note that the stronger the smell of the hot pepper, garlic or vinegar the better it is for your mixture. On that note, you can also use just vinegar, however I suggest only doing so if you have a very strong white vinegar to use. When working with hot peppers please remember to use gloves!

For this mixture use the hottest peppers you have available and leave the seeds in. The seeds of the hot pepper is where the spiceiness comes from. Dice them up to release the oils in your vinegar. Note that when it comes to garlic, the smaller and whiter the garlic the more pungent it will be. The more fine it is chopped the more oil it releases and more pungent the aroma in your mixture. 

Note: Do NOT spray vinegar on canalopes! They will turn grey on the outside. It does not hurt the melon but it does make it look strange.

Another spray suggestion is to combine the following:
  • 1 cup milk 
  • 2 gallons water 
  • 2 whole eggs 
  • 2 tablespoon cooking oil 
  • 2 tablespoon liquid detergent 

Other Methods:

Some orchards hang bars of soap from their trees. They do not like the smell of a perfumed soap and will then leave it alone. The rain and humidity will keep the fragrance around all summer long. 

I have heard that human hair is a deer repellant. It is suggested that you stuff hair into a cheesecloth sack and hang it from a tree, it will repel the deer because they think people are around. However in a suburban area especially most deer are used to people now and will generally get pretty close to them for food. 

You can hang empty milk jugs around to keep deer at bay. They do not like the noise they make in the breeze. I suppose this would also work with used soup cans as well. However they do eventually get used to these noises and it may only work for a short period of time.

***If you do get the hot pepper oil on your hands rub them with dish soap, leave the dish soap on for approximately 20-30 minutes then wash your hand thoroughly, it will take the burn away. Moisturize well after doing so.

Fungus & Insect Control

posted Aug 21, 2011, 1:17 PM by Stacey M   [ updated Feb 12, 2013, 7:53 AM ]

Fungal Diseases

A great resource:

Many crops draw fungus and mildew to their leaves or even their fruit. Fruit trees are notorious for rusty fungus on the fruit and powdery mildew can ruin a crop of ground fruit baring vines in the garden. Pumpkins, cucumbers, cherries and apples are just a few of the many casualties. Homemade sprays are a good resource to combat these if used early and frequently.

For Fungus do the following:
  • Mix 2 tablespoons of baking soda 
  • 1 quart of water 
  • Pour into a spray container and spray affected areas 
Repeat this process every few days until problem ceases 

Another suggestion is to try the following:
  • Mix 1 tablespoon cooking oil 
  • 2 tablespoons baking soda 
  • 3 drops Ivory soap 
  • 1 quart water 
  • Pour into a spray container and spray affected areas 
Spray plants once a week for one month

For mildew do the following:
  • Mix 1 cup water 
  • 1 cup milk 
  • Pour into a spray container and spray affected areas 
  • Spray infected plants once a week for 3 weeks 
3 treatments should control the disease

Another suggestion is to do the following, we have found it to be very effective on our farm.
  • Mix 1 cup mouthwash 
  • 1 cup water 
  • Pour into a spray container and spray affected areas 
Again 3 treatments once a week should do the trick

 Apple scab, it looks bad but it will not hurt you and peels off easily. Sometimes it will leave a small red mark on the flesh of the apple.
Scab on the outside of a potato, like the apple scab it will peel off. 


Statistics show that for every flea on your pet, there may be as many as 30 more in the pet's environment. They hide in the cracks of your hardwood, counters, rugs, furnature...basically anywhere that will keep them warm and dry. The best defense against fleas is a good offense! Bathe and comb your pet regularly. Use a mild bar soap such as Dove or Ivory instead of insecticides. If fleas are found on the comb, dip the comb in a glass of soapy water.

Citrus is a natural flea deterrent.
Pour a cup of boiling water over a sliced lemon. Include the lemon skin, scored to release more citrus oil. Let this mixture soak overnight, and sponge on your dog to kill fleas instantly.
Add brewer's yeast and garlic, or apple cider vinegar, to your pets' food. However, it is not advisable to use raw garlic as a food supplement for cats.
Cedar is a natural repellant to many insects that love to bother animals, especially fleas. Try surrounding your pets sleeping area with cedar chips or buying/making your pet a cedar filled sleeping mat.
Fleas love rugs. While vaccuming to rid your home of fleas put flea powder IN the vacuum cleaner bag to kill any fleas that you vacuum up before you start. Also as soon as you are finished be sure to put the bag in an outdoor garbage bin. The carpet should be thoroughly vacuumed even in low traffic areas, under furniture, etc.
Fleas like warmth and light of a nightlight - Trap fleas in your home using a wide, shallow pan half-filled with soapy water. The best thing to use is a disposable pie plate. It reflects the light and warms up easily. Place it on the floor under the nightlight and Fleas will jump to the heat of the bulb and land in the water. The detergent breaks the surface tension, preventing the flea from bouncing out. Dishsoap works well.


Ants are attracted to crumbs and sticky spots so the first line of defense is to make sure your home, garage and patio are cleaned of all debris. Also store sweet items properly such as sugar, honey and baking items. Cover sugar and honey in a plastic baggie. Cut off water sources such as drips or dishes left soaking overnight. These small steps will work wonders in keeping the ants from coming into the home in the first place. 
However if ants still persist:
  • Soapy water - a small spray bottle with soapy water will keep them away. A few drops of dishsoap in some warm water will due nicely. 
  • Cucumber, Mint, Cloves, Cayenne Pepper, Cinnamon, Garlic, or Coffee Grounds - Ants have a natural aversion to these things, so set out one of these things in the kitchen or any point of entry that you may see them. Or make yourself some small satchets and drive those buggers away! Use any lightweight cloth, like a cheesecloth or decent grade papertowel and fill them with your choice of one of those ingredients. Tie tightly and place your satchet near the spots where the ants are most active and it will drive them back outside. Also note that the more bitter a cuke the better - meaning the bigger and yellower the better! 
  • Soak a string with Citrus Oil or Lemon Juice, place that near the entry point and the ants will not cross it. 
  • Mix a half teaspoon each of honey, borox, and aspartame (artificial sweetener), in small bottles. Place bottles on their sides, with lids off, in areas of most ant activity. Ants will carry the bait back to their colonies. Important: KEEP AWAY FROM PETS AND CHILDREN! 
  • Leave a small, low wattage night light on for a few nights in the area of most ant activity. The change in light can disrupt and discourage their foraging patterns. 


With winter coming up many of us are packing away summer clothing so I thought this would be the perfect time for these little tips on how to keep moths away. Please remember that moth balls are toxic to animals as well as humans. They also make your clothes smell horrible, so why not use some alternatives. Some natural moth repellants include:
  • Aromatic Cedar 
  • Lavender 
  • Rosemary 
  • Vetiver 
  • Rose Petals 
  • Lemon Peels 
Simply fill a cheesecloth square with any one of these items and hang it with your stored clothes. It will not only keep the moths away it will definately keep them from getting a mustly stored smell. I do however suggest if you are going to pack them in a box used dried varients because herbs and flowers do mold without air circulation. Also instead of a small cheesecloth satchet you can use cedar or lemon oil in an absorbant cloth to repel moths. Remember the cedar should be 'aromatic cedar', also referred to as juniper in some areas.

Lastly, vaccuming is another tip to get rid of those pesky moths we see in the house this time of year (especially up here in the Northeast). Spring cleaning isnt only for spring! Clean fabrics before packing them away for winter, vacuum thoroughly - even the hardwood floors. Make sure you get all the cracks and crevices. Like fleas moths will lay eggs and breed in those little tiny corners of the house.


This week's pest of choice is flies. Unfortunately many of us the best solution to flies is not a solution at all; spiders. Yes spiders are the best form of pest control when it comes to flies in and around our properties - any form of non-harmful arachnid will do the trick but alas many of us are terrified by the creepy crawly arthropods and don't allow them in our house either! So here are some other ways to get rid of your flies.

Natural deterrents include:
  • Mint 
  • Bay Leaves 
  • Cloves 
  • Eucalyptus 
  • sweet basil 
  • clover 
I suggest using any of these in a small sachet made of tissue paper, muslin, cheese cloth or scrap fabric you have around the house. Remember though thin fabrics work best so the item can breathe - especially if it is not dried prior to use in the sachet. Fresh leaves will mold without air circulation. Also when making your sachets remember to crush the leaves to release the natural oils onto the cloth. These can be placed around the home to discourage flies and many other insects from infesting your home. You can also hang them around open windows or doors in the warmer months to discourage them from coming in.

If you already have flies in your home then a great fly (or wasp) trap is a soda bottle. I find the best size is about a 1 liter size. I can put it in the kitchen window and it doesn't disturb anything or get in the way and still works nicely.
  • Cut the top off the bottle about 2 inches from the top, enough so it will sit upside down in the bottom half of the bottle. 
  • Put any sort of bait in the bottom of the bottle that you like (Suggestions below the image). Then simply turn the inverted top on the bottle. If you are worried about it spilling you can put a little glue around the rim after you put the bait in. That should hold it in place nicely, or a bit of tape to hold it shut. I have also seen many people hang them outside around their patios to keep flies from entering their homes. 
  • You can put a little food coloring in the water and use a clear bottle, they make a nice useful little decoration in an out of the way place. 

Many people have ideas of what bait people should use in their fly traps. However, the easiest concoction is 1/4 sugar to 1/4 vinegar and 2/4 water. You can make this in any amount as long as you are around these measurements. Any sugar will due, any vinegar, and some water. Some more specific suggestions are as follow. 

Use any sugary juice that contains fructose. Fructose causes flies wings to stick together and they drown in the liquid. They are attacked to the sugar and will keep coming and swarming the more flies that are in the bottle. It has been suggested to put a tablespoon of vinegar per 1/2 cup of juice to discourage bees from entering the bottle.

In a jar mix 1 cup vinegar, 1 cup sugar, 1 cut up banana peel and 1 liter of water. Place lid on the jar and shake well to mix. Place in your fly trap and let ferment, it will begin to work in about a week and should last for a few months or until your bottle is filled with flies and mosquitoes.

This may smell a bit putrid but raw meat covered in water also works very well to attract flies. Think road kill. Maybe this is good one for anyone that has a few acres. Attract them away from the house.

If you are more industrious perhaps make your own all-natural flypaper. I have been told the following recipe works very well. In a small bow mix the following:
  • Mix 1/4 cup syrup 
  • 1 tbsp. granulated sugar 
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar 
Cut strips of paper bag and soak in this mixture. Let dry overnight. To hang, poke a small hole at the top of each strip and hang with string or thread. Voila natural fly sticker. The flies are attacked to the sweetness and will stick to the goo you have created.

In New Orleans many of the seafood restaurants along the delta have bags of water hanging in them. When you ask them owners they all tell you that a plastic bag with a penny in it will deter flies - and it seems to work! I believe these particular bags have brackish sea water in them, but I have read other places that any bag filled with water will do. You simply fill the bag with water, (I have always seen gallon sized bags) and tie a strong piece of string around it, then hang it from the ceiling. Now I have no idea why it works...but these shops were filled with crawdad and not a fly in site!

Lastly, it is a common rumor that the color yellow will deter flies. However people say this and fly stickers are always a golden yellow color, so this one I have to say might just be an old wives tale. But if someone wants to try it let me know.

Spring Planting Tip

posted Aug 21, 2011, 1:12 PM by Stacey M   [ updated Feb 12, 2013, 7:49 AM ]

Don't go putting things next to each other all willy nilly!
Thought since we are getting ready to plant outdoors for the first time this year I would include a little helpful note for those of you that may be doing the same soon. Basically it is this, don't go putting things next to each other all willy nilly, plan your garden!Just like people, some plants do not get along with each other and don't grow well next to each other. For example 
  • Tomatoes do not like to be planted next to Potatoes, Broccoli or squash. 
  • Potatoes do not like to be next to tomatoes, cucumber, squash or sage....starting to wonder if squash issues here...hmmm
  • Don't put beans next to onions...they will not thrive!
  • And the worst of the enemies...carrots and dill...the rivalry is relentless. *shakes head*
However there are also a few plants that like to be together a little TOO much and you may want to keep that in mind as well., and not plant them next to each other. For example
  • Honeydew and cantalope, they will cross to a strange combination of freakishly bad melon!
  • Beets and Radish...need I say more?
  • Yellow and orange pumpkins make creamy orangesicle pumpkins, but hey if thats your thing...
  • Most other open pollinated crops like different varieties of corn, gourds, etc.
But these plants do get along famously, so planting them together works out well.
  • Radish, carrot OR carrot, beet
  • Garlic, scallion, green onion
  • Tomato, eggplant, pepper, herbs (helps protect vulnerable tomatoes from chewers)
  • Corn and gourds
  • Lettuce, cabbage, brussels sprouts, spinach, turnips, beets, carrots, swiss chard, collards, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, peas and beans (a cool crop/greens garden) thrive all together.
  • squash, cucumber, and melons
  • sunflowers and  dill
Larger combinations that work well together:
  • Beans, carrot, strawberry, celery, corn, eggplant, peas, potato, broccoli, cauliflower, radish, beet, cucumber, green onion
  • Cucumber, corn, beans, sunflower, radish, dill, nasturtium
  • Lettuce, strawberry, cabbage, Brussels Sprout, cauliflower, lettuce, radish, spinach, Swiss chard, turnip, beet, carrot, cucumber, onion, 
  • Squash, zucchini, melon, cucumber, corn, marigold, oregano, nasturtium
  • Tomato, eggplant, okra, pepper, asparagus, beans, carrot, cucumber, onion, basil, marigold
So plan ahead and have happy healthy plants!

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