Beware The Ides of March

Beware The Ides of March

Throwback Thursday is a time to shine a spotlight on one of our heirloom varieties in an attempt to

Bougainvillea on a villa

Bougainvillea on a Villa

introduce it to new gardeners or remind us of a long forgotten friend.

Today I’ll be talking about Bougainvillea. Family: Nyctaginaceae Genus: Bougainvillea

The perfect plant for hot areas, the bougainvillea shines above the…..




We interrupt this regularly scheduled programming to bring you breaking news!

Beware the Ides of March!

What Ides you say? I’ll tell you what ides. The big three ides…Fungicide…Herbicide…and (da da dum) Pesticide!

The bane of all that is good and holy in the garden!


We’re all tempted to grab it when the powdery mildew rears its ugly head and tries to give our cucumbers the business. There are a few things we can try before we reach for the ide. Always test on small area first. *Never use tobacco products on any of the Nightshade plants.

  1. One gallon water, 1 tsp. bleach, 2 tsps. mild liquid soap (such as Ivory, Dawn)
  2. 2 Tbs. Cinnamon Powder (just plain cinnamon) 1 pint isopropyl rubbing alcohol. Mix and let set overnight. Spray lightly
  3. *My Grampa Wilson swore by this, but I think he just wanted my uncle to stop smoking and used mildew as an excuse to crush his cigarettes. I have no proof of that though. His fungicide was 1 pack of whatever Danny was smoking at the time, one gallon of water. Mix let set overnight, strain. Add 2 cups nicotine water to 3 quarts water in sprayer. He said to never use this on the nightshade plants (potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants etc.) I’ve never actually used it on anything, but many old timers still do.
  4. 1 Tbs. bleach to 1 Gallon of water. Mix, let set overnight. Transfer to spray bottle. Mist lightly.
  5. 3 Tbs. vegetable or olive oil, 1 Tbs. Ivory or Dawn dish soap (I actually use Dr. Bronners Pure Castille Liquid Soap with Lavender)1 Tbs. baking soda, 1 gallon of water. Mix well. Transfer to spray bottle. Spray in three day intervals.
  6. Neem Oil (Pros and Cons, do a little research before purchasing or using) I use it, but some organic gardeners do not.


I personally have never used any herbicides, but I do think that there may be a dire need for it in some situations. So here’s what I found by way of a more natural, safer, less ide-y way to get rid of unwanted vegetation.

1. Manual Labor. Dig it out, till it out, rake it out. This can be made easier if you put heavy black trash bags over the area you want bare for approximately 2 to 3 weeks prior to when you want to dig it up. It will smother the vegetation under the plastic then you can simply remove the top layer.

2. Straight alcohol: A bottle of gin, tequila, vodka or whatever spirit you choose. You can get the cheapest available, after all you wouldn’t want to drink it, that stuff will kill you.

3. Full Strength Apple Cider Vinegar

Please use caution when using anything as an Herbicide. It’s not difficult to overspray and kill unintentionally. Manually removing only the unwanted vegetation is really the only 100% guarantee you won’t be harming the remaining vegetation. (Ugh…even that might damage root systems and such. Just be sure you absolutely have to get rid of whatever it is, then go for it.)

And the big one…the ide of all ides!


I guess this is the biggie. When I think of one thing that absolutely must not be in my food or on my skin it’s this. Pesticides. Bad I tell you, bad. But not really. I truly believe that just like many things pesticides were developed and used in an attempt to help humanity, not poison and pollute it.

I’m not so naive as to think there were not companies that overreached the bounds of good judgement in an attempt to make money, but if you think about it, getting rid of pests that caused poor yields of crops, at face value, seems like a noble undertaking. Crops feed people, clothe people, shelter people. Poor crops, less food, less clothing, less shelter. (Less clothing? There must be poor yielding crops in Los Angeles)

I ┬ádo think that the use of pesticides is completely out of control, and I do think that there are companies that would exploit the public for money without regard for the health of the environment or even the people that they are exploiting. I don’t think that this is the case of every pesticide manufacturer or distributor. But those are just the opinions of a Librarian/Wife/Mom.

I try not to use chemical pesticides of any kind, if I can help it. If it comes to a choice of little or no yields and using a remedial pesticide, I’m going to choose the remedy. When the situation warrants a pesticide, I choose the safest I can find. It makes sense to me, so that’s what I do. This is my progression for unwanted pests. Here are some recipes I’ve posted before. Home Brewed Pesticide

1. Hand picking, floating row covers. If you can see and catch/remove them, do it. This is usually the slower, stupider pests. Caterpillars, slugs and snails, some beetles, etc. Pick them off and dunk ‘em in soapy water (or however else you choose to dispose of them)

2. Attracting or providing predatory beneficial insects. Here’s a great reason to not spray commercial chemical pesticides. These sprays don’t differentiate between your lady beetles and mantis’ and the Japanese beetles or cucumber beetle. They just kill them all. However, depending on the infestation, a few of the beneficial predators could rid you of the pests without causing cancer in you.

3. Homemade Pest Control. My personal favorite is a mixture of garlic, the hottest chile peppers I can get my hands on, bay leaves and dish washing soap. This spray does double duty to keep out the rabbits as well.

When all else fails, or is not working quickly enough to save a crop I will use a “safer” commercial insecticide. I use Neem Oil spray and on occasion have been known to use Sucrashield and Pyrethrin based insecticide. However I have only ever used these when I felt like there were no other viable options in order to save a crop.

Now is the time to think about how you will deal with the problems you will face in the upcoming growing season. Plan your companion plantings, buy your row covers, investigate your choice of biological warfare against the pests and fungus that would like to destroy your garden. Beware the Ides of March! We’ve crossed the Rubicon! It’s time to grow! Okay, I know, I’m a nerd, but it’s the 15th of March…the Ides of March! Sigh…I foresee much eye rolling today.

Have a Look Out Caesar paisley day!~KeriAnne


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