Chicken lice:

Next time when you want to get rid of your braai ashes, think twice! Rather put it in your fowl run. Chickens love to role and scratch around in the ash, and the chicken lice hate it.

How to keep birds off your fruit:

Normally, we are happy to share our ripe tomatoes, peaches, plums, figs, mulberries and apricots with mouse birds and other fruit eaters, but when you only have one tree of a particular variety, and it is shy bearing, you might want to put up some deterrents that will send the birds elsewhere. Something that will keep the children and grandchildren busy is making a scarecrow and then attaching it to a broomstick so you can move it around in the vegetable patch and orchard, and so that the birds don’t get used to where it is and lose their fear for it. You could also hang different sized aluminium pie pans, strips of aluminium foil and old CDs at different heights, preferably using fishing line. It also works better to move these around. Another project could be to make a spinner or wind chimes out of aluminium cans. Not only will it flash in the sunlight, but it will also whistle as it spins. Alternatively, you could paint faces on balloons and tie them to branches. Some people swear by draping a rubber snake in a tree. A combination of these ideas might just do the thing! (Gauteng Smallholder, Dec 2014/Jan2015).

Rid your property of rodents: Using poisons for this purpose is problematic for domestic pets, owls and other natural predators. However, making a home-made repellent for mice and rats is simple and inexpensive. Rodents cannot stand the aroma of mint. Using pure peppermint and spearmint essential oils should eliminate rodent problems safely and effectively. Be sure to use real, natural essential oils. Synthetic fragrances are not going to work. Pour about 15 drops of oil into a spray bottle and add a few drops of milk. Shake until the oil is emulsified, and then add three or four cups of water. Spray outside buildings such as feed storage rooms or poultry houses. Inside your home, a few drops of the mixture can be put on cotton balls and then left in the cupboards. Old cotton towels can be soaked in the mixture and placed anywhere that rodents may be entering the home, or spending time.

Plant mint outside the home and near stables, feed rooms, livestock pens and chicken houses. Mint grows quickly and profusely, and you’ll have an almost endless supply of fresh mint to use indoors as a deterrent (Gauteng Smallholder, Dec 2014/Jan2015).

How to deal with common garden pests: Anybody who has lovingly created a vegetable garden knows the heartbreak when pests strike. Intercropping, companion planting and poly culture are all different terms for planting different plants together in the same space at the same time. The different shapes, colours and scents confuse insects. Pests will stay away from plants with spicy/bitter scents, such as camphor, mint, lavender, rosemary and sage. Leaves could be spread around newly planted seedlings or strong scented herb stems can be pushed into the soil next to the seedling to protect it from cutworm. Marigolds and garlic chives are also insect repellents. Nasturtiums, however, attract aphids, which can be a real menace to a number of vegetables. Use colour in your attack. Paint yellow cardboard with sticky oil or petroleum jelly, attach to a stick and place near vulnerable vegetables, or place pans of water coloured with yellow food colouring at strategic spots among seedlings – insects are attracted by colour and will fall in and drown. Onion and garlic spray, citrus and khaki bos mixtures will also get rid of many pests. Healthy plants are less vulnerable to insect feeding pressure than weak, sickly ones, so maintaining soil fertility helps plants outgrow insect damage (Gauteng Smallholder, Dec 2014/Jan2015).