ASK THE GARDENERS. Questions & Answers.
Q A few months ago you had a recipe for getting rid of aphids and white flies. I copied it off for future use. On my copy I have: 1 tablespoon red pepper sauce; 1 tablespoon liquid dishwashing detergent; 1 cup of rubbing alcohol. When I used this recipe many of my plants died. I am wondering if I copied it wrongly or if something was left out of the instructions. M.C. Falmouth, Mass. Something is indeed missing from the recipe. The ingredients should be added to one gallon of water.
Even though we have had the complete recipe in the column several times, the water may have been inadvertently ommitted in this instance. If so, we sincerely apologize.
We might add that there are now ready-prepared brand name insecticidal soaps available in garden stores. One that has been available for quite some time is Safers. We have used it with good success.
A good rule to follow when using any homemade or commercial pesticide of any kind is to try it on one leaf first. If there is no damage, then proceed to treat the whole plant. Some plants are more sensitive than others. Q Before the garden season comes around again I would like to know how to control earwigs.
This past season, something kept eating off my seedlings. I thought it was snails but could not see a slimy trail. Upon lifting up the flats, I found dozens of earwigs.
These pests continued to be a problem even though I used recommended sprays. F.W. Dimock, Pa.
Several years ago we were given four banty chickens. They proved to be incredible earwig eaters, especially when the hens foraged with their broods, in every hiding place. After we moved to a wooded area, predators made banty raising impractical.
In lieu of the banty brigade, we resorted to pieces of moist rags laid around in strategic spots. Each day we dispatched the insects by dousing the rags in a pail of boiling water. Persistence paid off. We have seen very few since. Even if toxic pesticides were used lavishly (which we definitely do not recommend) they would reduce population very little because of the clandestine nature of this pest.
Doc and Katy Abraham are nationally known horticulturists.