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Green Barbarians–Ellen Sandbeck


A Buddha A Day–Ellen Sandbeck





    

Dear Ellen,

My rose bushes are being completely defoliated by ugly, slimy, gray, slug-like caterpillars. I don't want to use commercial pesticides. Help!

Fredericka, Duluth, Minnesota

Dear Fredericka,

You can either go to the store and buy B.t., (bacillus thuringensis) a bacteria that kills caterpillars, or you can try a homemade brew. I see by your address that you live in the land of rhubarb. As most Northerners know, though rhubarb stalks are edible, and are tasty when combined with large amounts of sugar and strawberries, rhubarb leaves are poisonous. Rhubarb leaf tea will kill many garden pests, and I have successfully murdered many a caterpillar with rhubarb leaf tea. Here's the recipe: Fill a large stock pot with fresh rhubarb leaves, cover the leaves with water and simmer on the stove for half an hour. Let cool slightly, and strain out the leaves. Add sugar until it stops dissolving. (A shocking quantity of sugar can be dissolved in warm water. Keep adding!) Bring the water back to a boil so the sugar completely dissolves. Allow the "tea" to cool, then pour it into a garden sprayer or hand-held spray bottle. Spray the leaves of your infested rose with the rhubarb tea. Make sure you drench both the top and undersides of the leaves. The caterpillars should all be dead within 48 hours.

Environmentally yours,

Ellen

 

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