Homemade bug spray waiting for the rain to stop. (Mary Lowther photo)

Homemade bug spray waiting for the rain to stop. (Mary Lowther photo)

Mary Lowther: Something has chewed on my peas…

I’ve made an insect-deterrent spray

By Mary Lowther

Something has eaten my peas down to stubs. I read that if it was rabbits they’d be chewed down to the ground. It could be slugs or pill bugs, because the soil isn’t dry enough yet to deter them and the bites on the stubs are small, as though made by many voracious little mouths. I’ve tried various methods to get rid of slugs and pill bugs, but everything that worked before depended on dry conditions and, since this damp cold spring seems to have become eternal, I find myself looking for a wet weather approach.

Perhaps, I thought, growing my peas more quickly might help them outgrow predation, so I sprayed them with fermented nettle tea I made by letting nettles sit in a bucket of water for 10 days, then thinning it till it looked like weak tea and spraying that on the plants. I plan on repeating this in a week. In the meantime, I’ve made an insect-deterrent spray recommended by the Elliott Homestead online, which I’m copying here:

1 onion

1 head of garlic

1 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 litre water

1 tsp. dish soap

Blend everything except the soap then pour it into a pot and simmer it for 45 to 60 minutes. Strain through cheesecloth then add the dish soap and pour it into an empty spray bottle. Spray all sides of the plant and underneath. Repeat after a rain (which looks like just about every day! I think I’m going to go through a lot of this stuff).

I’m also going to start more peas inside under lights, to plant outside if it ever dries up. This is usually too late in the season to be starting peas as a disease called “enation” kills them off come mind-summer, which is when they would be podding. Still, we really like peas so I have to take even a long shot at a possible crop.

Some authors suggest interplanting highly scented plants like marigolds, garlic and parsley to throw insects off the trail, so I’ve surrounded the patch with these decoys and am mowing down the grass in the paths again to make it harder for the predators to hide and escape my vengeance.

If none of these methods work, at least we still have kale, turnips, lettuce and onions in the garden, and lots of stored garlic. But I wish a few slug-eating frogs or snakes would visit the garden or maybe I could rent a few ducks that love slugs. We have lots of robins that evidently aren’t doing the job. The snake might be unwelcome in the Garden of Eden but here it would be gratefully received, and very well fed.

Please contact mary_lowther@yahoo.ca with questions and suggestions since I need all the help I can get.

Columngardening