I caught a squirrel climbing down my plum tree last week, munching a plum. I charged toward him, he dropped it, and bolted up a maple tree. I like to think he crapped in fear as he scurried up his tree. But that doesn’t get my plum back.
- My suburban backyard is either dreadfully or delightfully full of creatures, take your pick. I found a baby box turtle meandering through last week — a baby box turtle! — and my neighbor claims to have seen deer sauntering through the lawns. These sitings expand the long list of residents, including birds, squirrels, possums, snakes, mice, moles and rabbits. Something is eating the chard. Cabbage loopers skeletonized a plant.
And while a certain gray furry “natural predator” is taking a nap so profound it qualifies as a coma, the chipmunks are leaping through the air, performing flying high-fives on their way to my cucumbers. It looks like a scene from frakin’ Willard back there in the mornings.
- So I hunted up the garden journal I kept back in my post-hippie, professional garden days to find the exact proportions for The Lethal Brew. It’s simple, but it used to work.
The Lethal Brew
Grate a couple of tablespoons of Ivory soap into 1 to 2 cups of water. Gotta be Ivory — the other bars on the market are detergent. Detergent harms plant foliage. Ivory is the last real soap, except for the handmade artisan types.
Throw in a couple of inches of a cheap cigar or a plug of chewing tobacco the size of a half-dollar
Add a hot pepper pod at least 2 inches long, or a spoonful of red pepper flakes
Let the brew soak for at l east 12 hours. Strain it and add enough water to give it a sprayable consistency. Spray it on plant leaves, tomatoes, apples every couple of days.
- It still works — on some things. It stopped the cabbage worms and tarnished plant bugs (which suck the green out of bean leaves until the leaves look bronze). It isn’t vile enough to keep the squirrels from eating the apples. Or rather, taking one bite of an unripe apple and then dropping it. And then doing the same thing the next day — how stupid are squirrels? And it doesn’t keep the rabbits (or some creature) from eating the chard. If you have a solution — besides a fence — I’m game to try anything.