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MSU Extension Service

Home Grown is an educational, entertaining, question-answer column seen weekly in "News from the Genesee MSUE Office," a weekly newsletter for Genesee County Master Gardeners. Special thanks to the Genesee, Oakland and Livingston county MSU Extension offices for providing this service.

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This week's HomeGrown

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I have a terrible problem with deer and rabbits chewing up my flowers and bushes. I have been buying repellants but it has just about cost me my paycheck each month to do it. Is there something that I can make that would work and isnít too hard to make?

Oh, have I got the recipe for you. I have been test-driving this one in my gardens for the last couple of months. There arenít many ingredients and preparation time is fast. The only part is the waiting for this stuff to ďmature.Ē This is a recipe that many orchard owners have used in the past. The ingredients: six eggs and almost a gallon of water. Crack six eggs into a bowl and beat up them with a mixer or use a blender or food processor. Pour into a gallon milk jug. Extra points are awarded if the milk carton is not clean. Add water to about three inches from the top of the container. Shake well and put the lid on. Place your infant repellent in a sunny spot and wait four or five days. On day three, pop the top and take a whiff. When lid popping is accompanied by pressure in the milk carton, the home brew is cooking. You will see a foamy ĎheadĒ form. This is good. When you open the lid in four or five days, the mixture should smell bad. Before placing it in a sprayer, use a sieve or several layers of cheesecloth to remove the chunks and bits. Spray on in the evening. This mixture adheres well when dry. Donít use on plant parts you want to eat. Store the gallon in the shade. Donít leave it in the sun to overcook. If you would spill this in the garage or house, you will be very disappointed with the stench. When starting to use this repellent, use every other day to get your herd of idiots trained to stay away. You can leave more days between applications in a week or two. It would be a good idea to use this repellent two or three times a week, depending on the number of hungry livestock that you are contending with. I havenít seen any damage to plants from the mixture. Have another gallon of brew cooking before you run out of this batch. Bon appetite.

I have dozens of beetles eating up my roses. They are a little less than half an inch in length, bronze green, grooved shell and a metallic green part right behind the head and some little patches of white on their rear ends. The little patches look like white dots. If I touch them, they fall right off the rose bushes. What are they?

They are the worst Japanese imports since Godzilla. Japanese beetles traditionally show up as adults at the very end of June or beginning of July. You will get about six weeks of voracious eating and joyful mating. Then, mommy Beetle goes to a grassy area and deposits her tiny eggs. Soon, the tiny eggs hatch into tiny larvae that eat tiny grass roots. These are next yearís terrorists. Japanese beetles also fly like little eagles so your rose eaters could have emerged from your neighborís lawn. And, no, you canít sue them. Your choices are several. But first, the stuff that isnít going to work. Milky spore is not reliably effective in Michigan. Use at your own risk. If it did work, it would take about three years for you to see any results. Remember? They can still come from the neighbor. Japanese Beetle traps will only attract more than you already have. Choices are now an insecticide or a repellant like Neem. Read the labels, especially if using on fruits or vegetables. You can handpick them several times a day if youíre bored.

Gretchen Voyle, MSU Extension-Livingston County Horticulture
Agent 517/546-3950


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