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Started a small herb garden -- insects?

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Hi All --

We decided to start a small herb garden/tomato planter to help with fresh food. Now we're wary of pests that may decide to snack on the herbs and tomatoes.

I've read online about using garlic oil as an insect repellant -- is this just a myth or does garlic really work as an insect repellant? Any cautions about using it?

We are in a loft in San Francisco so we don't have much space outdoors, but have managed to hang a couple planters off of the fire escape. :o)

Thanks in advance!

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  1. Garlic/soap spray can be used to kill aphids, but I wouldn't put much stock in it as a repellent. The essential oils that may or may not repel the bugs would wear off so quickly that you'd have to be constantly re-applying it. Plus, on herbs, a constant onslaught of garlic on the edible leaves is going to be kind of funky when it comes to dinnertime.

    Honestly, with planters on the fire escape in the city, I don't think you're going to have many pest problems at all. Instead of trying to head off every bug, I think a better approach would be to just keep an eye out and treat problems as they occur. (But again, since you're not really in a garden setting, I don't think you'll have many pests, period.)

    1 Reply
    1. re: mudster

      I agree my herbs in pots on the deck have way less problems than my actual garden plot in the ground. I don't think you will have to worry too much.

    2. I've been growing herbs for years in suburban and rural environments and have never had pest problems with them. This year I'm in a running battle with flea beetles in the vegetable garden but the herbs are growing beautifully. I also have herbs growing in pots of various sizes and the only thing I have to worry about is their watering needs. I have a few in clay pots and they demand more water because the clay allows for faster evaporation. I'm going to transplant them to plastic pots. I've become a huge fan of plastic and resin pots. They're decorative, look like stone and clay, and are light and easy to handle, great if you're growing on a balcony where you have to consider weight or hanging plants over head.

      Some herbs like less water and kind of sandy soil (like rosemary and sage) and some just want a lot of water (like dill). Once you have them in soil they like and feed them once in awhile, they should be pretty bug resistant. Just make sure that your pots drain well because none of them like wet feet.

      1 Reply
      1. re: morwen

        Thanks all! We will keep an eye on the plants and see how they grow. Just wanted to head off a problem before it started, and definitely want to harvest some heirloom tomatoes when they've bloomed. :o)

      2. Peppermint oil on cotton balls and placed around affected area is a deterrent to ants and flies.