Distract your garden aphids with nasturtiums

Brenda Mallory discusses birds in the north.

Now this is a bit better — summer is here, so far. The coast and southern interior is hot and the Northeast is warm and a tad wet. For us it is not too hot but at least it is sunny.

One the bird side of things young birds are still being fed by adults. I watched as a flycatcher packed a big heap of bugs off to a nest. Young crows still ask for  snacks from the adults. Andy who allows ravens to nest in his barn say the young are still assisted there too.

Yesterday I watched as a junco flitted from leave-to-leave on a wild rose bush. When the bird had its fill I checked the bush. Aphids!  Living in the bush makes it necessary for the birds and the rain to help out with these little beggars. Just the same I thought I had better fix as much as I can.

I referred to Favourite Garden Tips by Marjorie Harris. She reminded me that aphids come in a variety of colours: green, black, pink or red.

If you plant nasturtiums near your plants the aphids will find themselves attracted to that plant. Nasturtiums might not like but it does work. Chives planted near sunflowers and tomatoes will work the same.

Rhubarb leaves are toxic to all of us but a good spray can be made from those leaves. Chop the leaves, simmer for 30 minutes in water, Add some laundry soap flakes.  This spray gets rid of aphids as well as black spot on roses.

Now is the time to devote your attention to your compost heap. Remember do not let any protein get in there. I don’t put any food in that has dressing on it.

Don’t forget to layer your compost. First have your green stuff. Vegetable matter, grass, etc. Then add a brown layer. This means some dirt, dry leaves or semi-decayed matter. Too much green smells, too much brown slows down the process. Compost has to be kept moist.

If you want to speed up the process add some blood meal or manure. If time is of the essence try putting your compost materials in a large black plastic bag. Layer materials the same, place the bag in the sun and soon you will have some usable compost. Chopping materials into smaller bits will hurry the process.

You can make a dandy compost tea with finished compost. One part compost to six parts water. Leave this tea sit for a few days. The spray helps fight blight on tomato and potato plants.

You have asked if now is the time to stop feeding the birds. I am sure it would be fine. I still feed the group since it gives me a good chance to observe how well the breeding season went for some species.

Feed the birds, brush your dog and get dirt from under your nails. If you don’t like the dirt part scratch your nails along a bar of soap.

I enjoyed our talks when you called 250-846-5095. As usual e-mail notes are appreciated when they arrive at mallory@bulkley.net.


Brenda Mallory writes the Spice of Life and For the Birds column for The Interior News.