Ant infestation

I need to find a natural way to kill an ant infestation so as not to kill pets.

John Marcum
Silverton, Oregon

You can make a simple mixture of 1 cup water, 2 cups sugar, and 2 Tbsp. boric acid and leave in areas in and around your home frequented by ants. With household pets and small children around, place containers in protected locations. You might try placing this mix in small plastic containers with pencil-sized holes punched in it just above the mixture to allow ants to access the mix but not your pets. The ants will carry the mix back to their nest and destroy the rest of the ants there. — Jackie

Gardening in a hot climate

I loved your article about tomatoes, queen of the garden and there was also a question about zucchini in last months issue, but neither addressed some of my problems. I recently moved to the HOT place of Lake Havasu City, Arizona from cool northern Nevada just down from Lake Tahoe, and am having real problems getting this brutal weather to cooperate with my gardening. My tomatoes have split lines in them and the zucchini seem to set fruit but then turn yellow and fall off when they are from 2 to 5 inches long. What am I doing wrong? Everything grew with ease in the northern riverbottem we used to live in. (Except the freezing and short window of growing that you might also have.)

Lake Havasu City, Arizona

It’s the heat! Next year, try growing tomatoes bred specifically for hot climates; you’ll enjoy more success. Mountain Pride and Floramerica are two. We’ve always had great luck with the smaller, but hugely prolific, Punta Banda (a wild Mexican tomato) in hot climates. Mulching around the plants also helps maintain steady and cooler growing for tomatoes in the heat.

Zucchini, as well as many other squash don’t set fruits that last during the heat. Again, try mulching and even adding a shade cloth over your plants. Usually, as the summer’s heat lessens, the bush will start “saving” fruits to go on and use. — Jackie


  1. Lake Havasu will start having temps in 100s in late March. The highs will get to 120+ by mid summer and the nights will stay above 100 till fall. The advice to switch planting dates is probably the best as the ground temps will still be too hot to get good pollination. The highest temp we had while living there was 129.

  2. I live in florida and we have problems with fire ants all the time. What we have found is coat the nest with a thin layer of quick oats, and the nest will be gone in a couple of days.

  3. Julie, Native Seeds/SEARCH specializes in ancient and heritage food crop seeds from the hot and arid US southwest. They have a catalog and a web site and a membership as well as classes and demonstrations. There are some very interesting books and articles on ancient methods of food production in the southwest – if you google any combination of words on ancient crop production or ancient farming techniques you should come up with lots of books and publications.

  4. On gardening in a hot climate, try planting out of the “normal” cycle. Some folks plant just before monsoon season with harvests into Oct and Nov, others plant in late september to harvest in later in the year etc. In the hot parts of AZ it is often possible to plant as early as march if your started your sprouts indoors. I knew a lot of gardeners in the central part of the state that maintained gardens all year long, just shifting what was growing to match the heat. Shade cloth and mulch helps a lot too.

    I have had success with hot climate seeds for tomatoes. I look for heirloom varieties that come out of the middle east. I believe Baker Creek offers variets of melons, tomatoes and cucumbers that grow succesfully in Iraq, they should do well in AZ.

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