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After a very hot and dry July, August’s rains turned my lawn a shade I could almost describe as green, filled my rain barrel and finally brought out some more food in my garden: strawberries and peppers, which we’ve gotten to enjoy for the last month.
The peppers brought scores of ants, but I’ve been trying keeping them at bay with my all-natural pest deterrent.  It doesn’t deter them all, but it led to a significant decrease in ants right away.  I was motivated to take great care of my peppers after most of my vegetables failed in the heat earlier this summer.  See July’s post for a reminder of my vegetable garden of shame!

Nontoxic vegetable garden pest deterrent
1 cup water
2 tbsp all-natural dish soap
2 tbsp cayenne pepper

The measurements need not be exact.  Combine in a jar and shake well.  Spray or pour over plants with firm skins like peppers.  Reapply every few days.  Wash vegetables well before eating, naturally!

The spray would work on vegetables with firm skins not delicate skins like strawberries or peaches that I imagine would soak in the taste of the spray.

The spray worked well enough to allow my peppers to ripen unhindered, then I made salsa with one of the peppers plus basil from my garden and the rest of the organic tomatoes from my Palatine delivery.  Salsa is easy to make and the ingredients are cheap, no need to buy a jar.  I like a mild salsa with a bit of sweetness and tang.  I know basil is nontraditional, but for me, it gave the salsa just the right personality!

Tomato-Basil Salsa
2 large tomatoes
1 large onion
1 pepper, finely chopped
2 jalepeño peppers
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tbsp Herbamare seasoning
1/8 cup maple syrup
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
4 large pieces of basil, minced

Finely chop all vegetables.  Place all ingredients except the basil in a pot.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a low boil for at least 15 minutes.  Add the basil and stir well.  Pour into glass jars and can, refrigerate or freeze.