The tick population is rising

Here's one thing you can do to reduce their numbers around your home

Hello, friends!

As in years past, I’ve received several requests this summer for information about how best to control ticks in the garden.

Those insect carriers of Lyme disease and other illnesses, although super tiny in size, can have an enormous, long-term effect on human health, so your concern is well-placed.

Although tick populations tend to coincide with deer populations, residents of areas that historically have not had infestations may be at risk this year. In fact, tick numbers all over the U.S. — including at the shorelines — are rising, and tick-borne illnesses are rising with them.

If you see ticks in your garden, please don’t blast your entire property with pesticides; that would put pollinators at risk. In addition, pest control services aren’t cheap, and they often have to be repeated.

There’s an alternative that is at least as effective and safe for humans, pets, beneficial insects, wildlife and the environment.

The secret is to protect mice. From there, there’s a trickle-up process that will, in fact, reduce or eliminate the tick population on your property. But there are only two windows per year when this method is effective — in spring and mid-summer. So the time to act is now.

You can read the science behind this innovative method of tick control on the My Favorite Things page of

👉👉If you’re enjoying this newsletter, why not share it with a gardening friend? 


💡 If you do one thing this week…

Weed and water! I know that’s two things, but you need to keep doing both. Your future self will thank you.

And if it’s raining in your neck of the woods, no need to water obviously — but go out and weed when the rain stops. That’s the best time for the task because roots pull up from moist soil much more easily than dry.

📬 Ask Jessica

DEAR JESSICA: I planted milkweed in my garden because I heard it was butterfly friendly and was enjoying its blooms until it was completely devoured by these caterpillars! My kids are telling me they are monarch caterpillars, but I’m not so sure. Will this plant come back again? Do you have any advice? —Karen Retoske

DEAR KAREN: Your kids are correct — that striped beauty is a monarch butterfly caterpillar, whose only food source is milkweed, which I’m sure you know because you say that’s why you planted it.

So…mission accomplished!

Your milkweed helped fatten up that little guy, and soon he’ll be morphing into a monarch butterfly.

No worries about the plant. It should sprout new leaves and come back just fine next year. However, I would plant more in spring to ensure there’s enough for both of you.

👏 Sunday shoutout

“The last of the garlic is harvested,” writes Paul Gibney of North Bellmore, NY, who planted his cloves in October.

“Hardneck garlic grows scapes, which have to be removed before blooming [to ensure] bulbs develop underground,” he says.

But Gibney lets nothing go to waste: “I pickle the scapes,” he says. 

We’ll be over for dinner at 6!

📧 Send me your feedback!

I welcome your comments and suggestions, so please send them along — as well as any topics you’d like to see covered and questions you’d like answered in the Ask Jessica section.

Until next week, stay safe. Be well. And always keep your mind in the dirt. —Jessica

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