Gardeners are right in the forefront in the effort to recycle. They are, in fact, learning to reuse, make-do, and recycle many, many items from the home. Here are some ideas you can put to good use: Nylon hosiery.
Strips can be used handily for wicks to water houseplants. Five- or six-inch pieces can be put through the hole of the pot and curled around the bottom before the soil is added. After the plant is potted, the rest is dangled into a "well" of water.
A margarine container with two holes in the tope (one for the wick and one to add water) makes a handy well. It's a dandy way to water your plants automatically and will be a real boon when you take a vacation.
Hosiery also makes a good slings for melons, if you grow the vine on a fence as we do.
We also use the runny stockings and pantyhose to slip over fruit to keep off insects. They are especially good on grapes to keep our hornets and wasps. Slipped over ears of corn afterm the silks, attached to the kernels, have been pollinated by the tassels, they will discourage raccoons and birds.
You can also stuff stockings with human hair clippings and lay them around the edges of the garden to deter deer and rabbits. Wood ashes.
Don't throw away your wood ashes, because they are handy as a pesticide. Sprinkled in the row when planting radishes, they will repel radish maggots. A dusting of them on the leaves of radishes and tomatoes will discourage flea beetles, those tiny black insects that make those tiny holes all over the leaves.
A ring of ashes around the base of plants keeps slugs and snails from crawling up the stems, because they don't like to crawl over any dry, caustic material.
Wood ashes also contain nutrients and can be used on your garden in moderate amounts. It would take about 200 pounds of wood ashes to equal 100 pounds of calcium carbonate (lime that you'd buy). Ashes unlock the nutrients in a soil and make them available to plants. Do not use wood ashes on soil where you grow acid lovers. However, such as azaleas, rhododendrons, blueberries, and the like.
Too many ashes on a potato patch will cause the tubers to be scabby, but most leafy crops as well as beets and carrots benefit from them. Wood ashes will help control a disorder of cabbage known as blackleg. Homemade pesticides.
Soaps and detergents make dandy pesticides. Save all those slivers of worn-down cake soap and put them in a nylon stocking until you get enough supply to spread them out end to end in the stocking. Then tie them around your fruit tress just below the lower branches.
Rains washing through the stocking will carry a soapy solution down the trunk and prevent borer damage, because the adult is repelled by the soap.
Gardeners should not hesitate to experiment with soaps, detergents, and other nontoxic materials, such as garlic, hot pepper sauce, and buttermilk. But try a little of the spray on a leaf of the plant first. It if doesn't brown after a few hours, the solution is safe to use on that particular plant.
For whitely, we previously used a teaspoon of liquid detergent (a nationally known brand) to a gallon of water. We now use 1 teaspoon to 3 pints of water and find it more effective.
We had great success controlling aphids by adding 2 teaspoons of Tabasco sauce to the above liquid detergent-water mixture. We find a simple trigger-type mister most handy for one or two plants. But whatever the sprayer, if you have particles in your spray, strain it through a sieve before putting it in a sprayer.
One tablespoon of Tabasco sauce to a pint of water has effectively destroyed rose slugs and sawfly larvae.
For an all-purpose spray of hot peppers and garlic here's a formula that many gardeners use: Grind up a large bulb (not a clove) of garlic. Stir into 1 quart of water, to which has been added 1 tablespoon of ground cayenne pepper. Let it steep for an hour and strain into a sprayer. Any leftover mixture can be stored in a tightly closed jar in the refrigerator. This formula also repels animals.
Buttermilk is a good scalecide. Heavy infestations on outdoor plants, such as euonymus and magnolia, succumb to a coating of buttermilk painted on the shrub or tree with a paintbrush. You can also dip a piece of terry cloth in the buttermilk and sop it on the stem and leaves. Plain sour milk works well, too. Rinse it off 2 or 3 days later.
Rubbing alcohol is a dandy pesticide and is particularly good on mealy bugs. The alcohol dissolves the waxy coating and penetrates the skin of the insect underneath. Mixed 2 parts to 1 part water, it can be used on outdoor plants in the same way as buttermilk.
On small potted plants you can mix a solution in a pan, then invert the plant (be sure to grasp the soil ball firmly) and swish the plant around in the solution. Be sure the solution is deep enough to cover all the foliage and stems without crushing them.
Mildew is a common problem on begonias, gloxinias, and some African violets. An effective home remedy for this fungus is one tablespoon of household liquid bleach to one quart of lukewarm water in a small sprayer. Spray the leaves until they are dripping wet. Let them set for 15 minutes and then rinse the plants with cool water.
Do the job in the early morning so the leaves will be thoroughly dry by night. Be sure you don't set the plants in the sun to dry, as the sun will cause leaf spotting. Droplets form prisms so that the sun's rays passing through them will burn the tissue in the leaves.
There are a number of good home remedies for slugs, the bane of all gardeners.
Fortunately, slugs have a sweet tooth for citrus skins. Just turn the skins of grapefruit, oranges, lemons, and the like upside down in areas where slugs are troublesome. Since snails and slugs are night marauders, the next morning the skins can be gathered and discarded, or the slugs removed and dropped into a can of lime. The same skins can be placed in the same areas for two or three days before they lose their attractiveness as a bait.
Rubbing alcohol and household bleach will also attract slugs.
Large tin cans trap earwigs, which can be a terrible nuisance. Earwigs often crawl into mops and laundry that is drying on a clothesline. Mops can be dipped into boiling water, which dispatches them quickly, but they often cling kto the mop. In large numbers, they will destroy many blossoms on your favorite flowers.
We used to have bantam chickens which kept the earwig population to near zero. But if you're not so fortunate as to have these intelligent little fowls, you can make an earwig trap.
A large coffer can is ideal. Remove the lid and cover the outside of the can with brown wrapping paper, extending the paper to the rim. Smear a ring of bacon grease around the inside of the can about 2 inches up from the bottom. Fill with water to just below the grease ring.
Then sink the can a few inches into the ground to stabilize it. Set the traps 3 or 4 feet apart in the garden. Attracted by the odor of the grease, the earwigs climb into the can.
Empty the cans each morning, renewing the grease rings and water.