Garlic sprays and taming weeds with flames

If the hairy bittercress is pulled too late, it can "spit" seeds. Passing a flame carefully over it can also eliminate the weed. (Courtesy Berkeley)

Mike McGrath,

Meet Mike at Willowsford Saturday April 14. Mike will give garden talks at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. and to give out free tomato or lettuce plants for listeners to take home as they tour this new garden-centric community in Loudoun County.

Garlic sprays beat gnats and skeeters

Terry in Chantilly writes: “I would like to reduce the number of pests like gnats, ticks and fleas in my yard in a safe way, and have seen garlic sprays advertised for this. Do you have an opinion on their effectiveness?”

Yes, Terry, garlic is one of the most scientifically verified insect repellants, and garlic oil sprays (available under a number of brand names like “Garlic Barrier,” which is the original) are a great, non-toxic way to keep backyards temporarily free of biting pests.

Just spray the concentrated garlic oil on your yard as directed and it should repel bugs like gnats and mosquitoes for two to six weeks, depending on rainfall and coverage. Yes, your yard will temporarily smell like an Italian restaurant, but the aroma fades — at least to our sense of smell – after a few hours.

Tick Control

In our last thrilling episode, Terry in Chantilly asked how effective garlic oil sprays would be against pests like gnats, ticks and fleas. Garlic sprays are highly effective at keeping outdoor areas free of flying biters like gnats and mosquitoes as well as reducing the number of ticks. But those nasty little suckers deserve special attention.

If you have pets that go outdoors, make sure they’re treated for ticks with something like Frontline or Advantage. Keep grassy areas well-mowed because ticks prefer to wait for you on tall grass and weeds as opposed to well-kept lawns.

Consider spreading Tick Tubes around your property. These clever little inventions kill ticks carried by mice, which are the number one vector for the so-called

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