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Mixes and sprays to keep pests away

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By Cheryl Steenerson

As I sit here to type, I've got to tell you that I'm having a strong urge to go have "puppy time." At 6 weeks old, they are nothing but adorable. These are healthy puppies and each has its own personality. While spending time outside with the pack tonight, I was reminded that it is the season for chiggers.

I've been pretty good about using my chamomile tea spray, before working outside. It's when I just come home from work and spend an hour or so taking stock of the day. Duh - that's prime time for chigger and mosquito bites.

To make your own chamomile tea spray, just boil two cups of water and then put in four bags of chamomile tea. Let it cool, then remove the bags. Pour it into a spray bottle and keep refrigerated for a week. Spray yourself before you get dressed to go out. It smells like apple blossoms and is very effective in preventing bug bites of all kinds, including mosquitoes, flies and chiggers. Just remember to use it.

Since we're on the subject of bugs, I've been picking a few tomato horn worms. They were only babies, but that's the best time to catch the lime green little buggers. Broccoli and cabbage are under attack with worms as well. Spray the heck out of the broccoli with a strong water hose. Knock them off.

The cabbage just has to be treated after harvest. I've found soaking it in salt water to be very helpful. Fill a bucket with water and pour in a good stream of salt. Then watch for the worms to float in the water. You can also mix up one cup of flour and two tablespoons of cayenne pepper. Sprinkle it on the cabbage heads while growing. The flour swells inside the worms and they burst. The hot pepper wards away other insects.

This citrus spray will help with all kinds of caterpillars on all kinds of crops. Wash well several oranges, lemons or grapefruits. Peel up enough citrus peels to make one cup. Boil one fourth cup of water and pour it over the peels in a blender or food processor and liquify. Strain out the pieces and pour the liquid into a spray bottle. Fill the rest of the spray bottle with water. Spray the entire foliage of the plant to deter these little worms.

If aphids are a problem try this mix. Grind up some fresh cayenne peppers with a little water. Fill the rest of the spray bottle with water. Spray all plant foliage. You can also buy ground red pepper or cayenne pepper and dust tomato plants to keep horn worms off.

Those of you planting your fall crops now should keep the buddy system in mind. Growing celery between your cauliflower will repel the white cabbage butterfly. Do not plant cauliflower next to tomatoes or strawberries. Growing thyme between any cole crop helps repeal the cabbage moth.

Beans do well with cucumbers or celery planted in between them. Kale does well in the same row with cabbage and late potatoes. Onions and all members of the cabbage family get along well together. Pumpkins do well mixed in with corn.

Peas need to be inoculated with something like nitrogen, or another inoculate, to coat the seed. It aids in sprouting roots and quickly soaking up the nutrients so they'll grow fast.

You may need to shade them a little.

Now get out there and start looking for little buggers. It's almost always better to be on the offense than it is the defense. Enjoy summer. Happy growing.