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Letters To The Editor

Dear Editor,

I was just reading some of the letters at Off the Grid dealing with garden pests, and it occurred to me to share the following “recipe” that someone sent me last year.

I currently have (in Southern California) two large plants of lavender—not certain exactly what variety. They are in full bloom, and right now is the time for me to make up a new batch of ant spray.

Cut the best blossoms and some of the leaves and stems. Get a glass bottle with a good top and place the lavender in the bottle. Cover with white vinegar and let stand several weeks. Then decant into a spray bottle. I’m told the ants hate the lavender scent.

I have been fortunate not to have any ants inside the house since I learned this trick, but I just decanted a batch of the stuff that has been sitting since about this time last year (very dark in color and very strong) into a spray bottle and used it liberally on some fire ants in my driveway. Two days later, they are gone!

One caveat:  Try to get a glass bottle with a plastic cap, because the vinegar will cause a metal cap to corrode and rust to the threads of the jar. I don’t know if putting a couple of layers of clear plastic wrap between jar and lid would prevent the corrosion. Maybe one could use quart-sized Mason jars because those lids can be replaced.

Gardening Enthusiast

Dear Enthusiast,

Thanks for the tip! As someone that lives in fire ant country, I’m always searching for natural ways to get rid of these pests! (We have bees and cannot use just any old pesticide for fear of destroying our hives.) I’m definitely adding this one to the recipe box. Thanks so much for sharing!

The Editor

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Dear Editor:

I have found that guinea fowl work a lot better than chickens. Also they won’t eat the veggies like chickens will. Their eggs have a lot thicker shell than chicken and smaller but very tasty. They can be a lot harder to keep in a chicken house because they really like roosting in trees which means owls etc. pick them off. I remember one time when I did have a place in the country watching a chicken chasing a grass hopper then seeing a guinea pass the chicken and nail the grass hopper. They also keep fleas and ticks under control. Plus they make great watch dogs, when anybody pulls into your driveway you are going to know about it. I will be so glad when I have a chance to get a place in the country again.

Yearning for the country

Dear Yearning,

Thanks for sharing that with us! We appreciate all the hints and tips that our readers share with us. I agree, country life is the best! I hope you’re able to get back to it soon!

The Editor

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