5 Quick DIY Pesticides for Your Garden
The Environmental Protection Agency reports that homeowners use three times more pesticides than farmers do. We really need to do something about that. Those chemicals are toxic to every aspect of our environment, and they aren’t doing us any good either.
Whereas you may think that the winter months coming will defeat the purpose of pesticides, LawnStarter claims that pesky creatures use this time to hibernate and lay hundreds of eggs at a time to infiltrate once the weather warms back up. Being proactive will be the key to a successful lawn and garden year round.
There are plenty of safe, effective, all-natural ways of getting rid of malicious insects, and you can make them at home with inexpensive ingredients. Save your plants, save money, and save the environment—can’t ask for more than that!
1. Neem Oil
The neem tree is an evergreen native to India. For more than 4,000 years, the oil extracted from the seeds has been used for its extensive medicinal properties. In addition to being a cure-all, neem oil is a powerful natural pesticide, effective for more than 200 species of insects that chew or suck on plant tissues (e.g., aphids, mealy bugs, cabbage worms, beetles and caterpillars). The oil interferes with their ability to feed themselves, which hinders insects’ growth and their ability to lay eggs. The best part is that the oil is safe for most of the beneficial insects, humans, and pets.
Neem Oil Pesticide Recipe:
Mix 2 teaspoons of neem oil with 1 quart of warm water
Pour into a spray bottle; use immediately to treat affected plant foliage.
Effective in warding off vampires, why not insects? The vampire experts among us speculate that it is the strong smell of garlic that repels vampires. Apparently, those pests nibbling away on our plants aren’t any more fond of the smell.
Similar to neem oil, garlic has been used for its medicinal properties for over a millennium. It’s mentioned in medical texts from Ancient Egypt, Greece, China and India. Just between us, it’s rumored to have been the very first “performance enhancing” agent used by the original Olympic athletes in 776 BCE.
Garlic Pesticide Recipe:
Combine 10 to 12 garlic cloves with 1 quart of water in a blender.
After blending, let the mixture set for 24 hours, then strain it and add 1 cup of cooking oil.
You can store this mixture for several weeks.
To use, dilute the mixture with 1 gallon of water and spray on your plants once or twice a week.
Note: Unlike neem oil, this pesticide also kills good insects. Only spray plant parts that are infested. Do not use on your vegetable plants close to harvest time. The taste of the vegetables may be affected.
3. Chili Pepper
Similarly to garlic, chili peppers have the strong smell and taste that repels insects, but it goes one step farther— it causes them pain. Apparently, the experience is so traumatic that the insects remember and never return to those plants. You can use either fresh chili peppers or chili powder to get rid of garden pests such as leafhoppers, spittlebugs, beetles and loopers.
Fresh chili peppers:
Fresh Chili Pepper Pesticide Recipe:
Blend or puree ½ cup of peppers with 1 cup of water
Add 1 quart of water and bring to a boil.
Cool, strain, add several drops of liquid soap
Spray away those insects.
No fresh chili’s? No worries!
Chili Powder Pesticide Recipe:
Mix 1 tablespoon of chili powder with 1 quart of water and several drops of mild liquid soap.
Mix well and pour into a garden sprayer.
Note: Chili peppers can cause us pain also. Wear gloves when handling them. Keep any spray away from the eyes, nose and mouth.
Chili peppers can do double duty. Other garden and lawn intruders don’t like the smell or taste either. Dry some chili peppers and grind them into a dust. Sprinkle the dust around the soil to keep away groundhogs, rabbits, and skunks. It won’t kill them but it will keep them away.
4. Tomato Leaves
Tomato Leaf Pesticide Recipe:
Collect and chop up about 1 1/2 cups worth of tomato leaves
Steep in 2 cups of water overnight.
The next day, strain out the leaves out of the overnight steep, saving the liquid base.
Using the strained liquid, add two cups of fresh water and mix in a spray bottle.
Use as needed.
Tomato leaves contain toxic compounds called alkaloids, such as the aptly named tomatine, with fungicidal, antimicrobial, and insecticidal properties. These alkaloids control aphids as well as other insects, including grasshopper and whitefly. Tomato leaf spray also attracts beneficial insects that zero in on the smell of tomato plants to look for prey.
Note: Keep in mind that tomato leaves are poisonous. Be careful when handling and do not use the spray on food-bearing plants.
Beer will kill slugs and snails, but they’ll die happy. Create a trap by setting out little dishes or cups of beer around the appropriate plants. Since snails and slugs love yeast, they will “pull up to the bar” for a drink. Not knowing their limits, they become intoxicated and either stagger away to meet their demise or fall in and drown.