1. My grandmother recommended smearing cabbage stalks with oil and soot against slugs.
2. My friend LaVon went after cabbage moths with a tennis racket, which also improved her game.
3. My Russian auntie started cabbages in bottomless tin cans and when the seedlings were ready to be planted outdoors, she stuck the whole thing in the ground to protect against larvae.
4. Mothballs around squash hills will inhibit raccoons. So will blood meal sprinkled on the soil over the newly planted seeds. Squirrels are particularly put off by this and won’t dig into your squash hills.
5. Mothballs dug in with carrots will prevent carrot fly.
6. Hang mothball rings from fruit trees.

[Note: I’m not convinced that mothballs won’t leech into and poison the soil.]

7. Plant marigolds and garlic everywhere against pests. Marigolds are especially good for keeping pests out of tomatoes. But if you get tomato worms, LaVon advises, pick them and hang them up to dry, then grind them into powder and use to cure ulcers. She swears by this.

tomato worm

8. Beer in bottle caps placed temptingly around the garden will drown booze-loving slugs.
9. Black thread tied around fruit trees will deter the birds (or strangle them…be careful. Maybe use ribbon instead.)
10. Hang bottles (in the old African American way) and they will make music, as well as scare birds away from the fruit and ghosts away from the house. Take care the tree isn’t in a windy spot.

bottle tree

11. From an English gardener: “If it moves slowly, step on. If it doesn’t, leave it. It’ll probably kill something else.”
12. Turn the soil before winter and leave it lumpy so larvae will freeze.
13. Sow seeds generously: One for the rook, one for the crow, one to die, and one to grow.


Dry heat of the Dog Days encourages grasshoppers. When I had cats, they bounced after them, then threw them up in the house. The birds help and have the good taste not to bring them indoors.

In the absence of cats, I now stalk through the garden with a pair of scissors. My neighbor Susie turns sickly green at the sight of my brutal grasshopper beheadings.