Banish The Bugs!

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The 3 most effective pest repellents you can grow and use at home

They creep, crawl, scuttle and skedaddle their way into kiwi gardens across NZ causing untold damage and destruction to lovingly maintained gardens. Bugs – be they aphids, slugs, snails or mealy bugs – are the bane of many NZ gardeners.

The solution for the unwitting gardener looking to rain hellfire and exterminate the little plant destroying horde constantly at work in their hedges is to purchase some regular pesticide from their local garden centre or nursery and lay waste to their bug infestation problem.

What these quick-fix aficionados do not quite realize is that they would be safer applying those store bought pesticides in a hazmat suit and placing their home in a cordoned off quarantine for a week or more.

 After-all, a glance at a regular store-bought garden pesticide label will inform you that that seemingly innocuous little bottle’s ingredients are harmful to humans, pets and livestock – not to mention all manner of helpful insects, birds and so on.

You are in trouble if it comes into contact with your skin and heaven help you if you inhale it and if you get it on any fruit and veggies, it’s best to leave them for at least a week before scrubbing them like hell and consuming them as doubt constantly gnaws at you as to whether you got all the chemicals off.

Long story short – regular pesticides are bad news – which makes knowing how to brew up your own organic repellents essential. So, if you value the health of yourself, your family, your pets and quite frankly every living thing in the immediate vicinity (apart from those damned bugs) then please read on.

The power of Pyrethrum

These ‘painted ladies’, as they are more commonly referred to, pack a potent punch for all things soft bodied – particularly aphids. They are the ultimate perimeter watchtowers of the garden. They can be grown anywhere throughout your garden but it is often wisest to place them around the border so that you end up creating a ‘no-entry’ barrier to all manner of invasive creepy crawlies.

If you’re looking to treat a localized hotbed of infestation the petals of these flowers can be picked, dried and crushed to make a lethal powder – at least to pests. The powder is nontoxic to you, your pets and livestock; in fact, it can be used as a rather effective alternative to flea powder.

Alternatively you can get your brew on and throw the powder into some boiling water and brew up a batch of tea – it works a treat on any pests you can see. Simply pour it into a spray bottle, take aim and rain all manner of organic apocalypse down upon your fern eating foes.  

Garlic gets them beasties gone

Garlic is to many beasties what, well, what garlic is to vampires – one hell of an effective deterrent. Japanese beetles, aphids, mosquitoes, ticks, intestinal worms and all manner of other annoying and destructive insects go out of their way to avoid this characteristically aromatic assassin.

Plant garlic amongst your prized veggies, berry patch or orchard and sit back as your bug infestation problem dwindles away. An added bonus is that garlic never goes out of use in the kitchen – as a valued ingredient as well as for its medicinal properties.

Load up on crushed garlic with a touch of cayenne pepper mixed with water and mow down any hapless pest in sight with your potent brew. Again, it’s utterly harmless to you, your kids, pets, livestock and wildlife in general.

Menace to bug society – Marigolds

Don’t let the name deceive you. Marigolds may sound like a springtime dream but their effect on hazardous pests is notorious – amongst the pests, that is.

Provided you stick to the original types – Mexican (Tegetas Minuta), African (Tagetas erecta) and pot marigolds (Calendula officinalis) and not the so called ‘new scentless varieties’ – your plants, herb garden and crops will remain a ‘no-go’ zone for even the most determined bugs.

A great ‘double tap’ strategy with marigolds is to plant them as an autumn cover crop and then when it comes time to plant crops for the new season, these fearsome natural bug blasters can be turned under to form a highly effective cleansing green ‘manure’ for your new plants.

So there you have it – three powerful insect repellents concocted by none other than Mother Nature herself. They are tried, they are tested and best of all they don’t require you to turn your garden into a small version of a nuclear fallout zone. 

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