Garlic: How to rid yourself of vampires (and garden pests)

My vegetable growing year often seems to go like this:

Early Spring: Sow seeds into pots with great optimism in my heart, remembering last year’s harvest of organic goodies.

Mid Spring: Plant out my seedlings, carefully surrounded with an arsenal of defences to protect them from slugs (more about beating off the slugs in my next post).

Late Spring: Admire and enjoy the first fruits of my Herculean labours: mange tout, spinach, lettuce. And think about the harvest to come: tomatoes, beans, peppers, aubergines, spring onions, strawberries….

Early Summer: Watch the airborne pests descend on my lovely young veg and leave them looking tattered, weak and in some cases, dying.

The good news is that there are some very effective ways of repelling these critters. I’m going to explore some natural, eco-friendly pest deterrents in the next few posts, and I have to say, garlic spray is one of my favourites. It really does act as a natural repellent for a number of insects including aphids, ants, whiteflies, caterpillars, reds spider mites and beetles. It also helps combat slugs and snails.

You will need:

  • Spray bottle
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 litre water
  • Blender / food processor (optional)
  • Cheese cloth or very fine sieve

There’s no one set way of making garlic spray, so you can experiment to see what suits you best. I use a couple of garlic cloves and either chop them up finely or puree in a food blender with about 300ml water. Pour the mixture into a pyrex jug or bowl and top the mixture up with boiling water – you want about 1 litre in total. Then cover and leave overnight to make sure the garlic has thoroughly infused the water. The next morning, strain the liquid through a piece of muslin or a superfine sieve (I use a really, really fine tea strainer) into a spray bottle. Do make sure you strain the mixture carefully as you don’t want any bits of garlic to clog up the spray nozzle.

The best time to spray your plants is when the weather is dry, in the early evening. Give the affected leaves a good even spray all over, paying particular attention to the underside and folds where insects might congregate. You may want to do a further spray at weekly intervals if necessary, but be aware that the spray also deters garden friends such as ladybirds, so only treat leaves with pests on.






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