Category Archives: DIY

DIY Pest control

My journey into organic gardening started as a science project for my son. It then morphed into planting some herbs and small vegetables, but while the rocket tasted great most of my hard work was eaten by aphids and other  insects. So, of course, I turned to the internet (surprise! surprise!) looking for a non-toxic way to get rid of them. I found a couple of good formulas for a repellent and pesticides that mostly use items I use for cooking.  In this way the pests are gone, the kids are not harmed and I get to enjoy my roka salad.  So here are a few pest control recipes that I and others have used. But first, a few things to keep in mind before getting started;

1. It’s better to spray in the early morning or the when it’s cool in evening. Do not spray when temps are over 27c or the plants may “burn”.

2. First, test on a small portion of the plant then wait a day to see if there is any negative reaction

3. “Less is more” don’t increase use or amount of the ingredients.  Use gradually till you see results. i.e., garlic, chilli and soap can actually harm plants if large amounts are used.

4. Although I’ve not had experience with this as I have a balcony garden, in large gardens some bugs are good, so when using general pesticides, as much as possible use them directly on the pests to avoid getting rid of good ones.

Recipes and Formulas:

Let’s start with soaps. I used this on the surrounding area of the plant containers and  you can use this on leaves, but don’t use on blossoming plants. This works on aphids, and mites. In a clean spray bottle mix a few drops of mild dishwashing liquid with a couple of pints of water and spray liberally. Adding couple teaspoons of cooking oil as it helps it to cling to the leaves.

– For getting rid of tent caterpillars try getting a bucket of water with some dish soap in it. Using a mop soaked with the soapy water ‘wash’ the tent in the tree. The soap breaks down the natural oils in the nest.

– This is a general pesticide. It may repel some pests and will get rid of others. What you need is a thoroughly cleaned spray bottle, 1 bulb of garlic, a pint of water, some ground chilli, cayenne is good.  For sticking power on large leaves add a couple of teaspoons of mild hand/dish soap. Blend the garlic with the water and pepper; let them steep, then strain the liquid to get lumps out. If you are using soap add it the very last after straining. You can keep it in the fridge for around 5/6 days in a glass container.

The following are repellents.

– Clove and lavender oils are good repellents for flying insects and silver fish. I use it as a room spray for mosquitoes and ants.

– This is for a different kind of pest – weeds, but as I live in a flat I’ve not had an opportunity to use. If someone tries it please let me know how it works. An ounce of table salt to a gallon of water sprayed on weeds or straight salt, especially in non-garden areas can stop weeds.

– Also, salt sprinkled on plants or where snails / slugs congregate can discourage them. For your plants spray / sprinkle early in the morning when there is still dew on the plants leaves.

– For those who live near fields this has been shown to work well against mice. Soak cotton balls with pure peppermint oil and place near an entry hole or common place they have been sighted. The smell will keep them away; make sure you replace every couple of months or so.


– As a deterrent, trace the ant column back to their point of entry. Set any of the following items at the entry area in a small line, which ants will not cross: cayenne pepper, cinnamon, citrus oil or turmeric. Also are good to place near any ant hills. On vertical paths place Vaseline or Vicks.  I washed my floor with a mixture of vinegar (white), water, soap (mild), lavender and clove oil every couple of days for around a week and that seemed to work.

– For a pesticide try some boric acid mixed with sugar placed near the ant hill. The ants will take it to the queen. But make sure that pets and kids don’t go near it.

If you know of any other natural pest control I would love to know about it.

– Happy gardening


Posted by on July 9, 2010 in DIY, Green, Home


DIY Greenhouse

Spring is on its way and this is the time when most people decide to plants flowers or herbs, or even vegetables. I love to plant herbs, especially ones that are expensive or hard to find here, but the problem I always face is space. I live in a flat with an average sized balcony.  Last spring, for ideas I went on….all together now….the internet and found several articles about container gardening, in other words – gardening for people with limited spaces.  Following the directions, I planted my seeds, waited and saw my herbs sprout. I really got excited about it, but the herbs and soil started drying out. What to do??  This is where the internet came in handy. Once more I found some relevant articles about making a greenhouse, but not the usually metal and glass greenhouses, this one was for the container garden, i.e. ME and all one needs is a stick and some plastic bags!

Your plants should last longer and can grow in various environments in this greenhouse. My roka lasted a few weeks more than before I had one!!. You don’t need much and how much depends on the size of your container, i.e. a larger container will require more material. The directions following are based on a medium-sized plant pot.

  1. A plant pot (make sure it has holes at the bottom), with own water collection plate.
  2. Plastic bags: sandwich bags (the thicker the better), or you can get clear plastic sheets from the garden shop and cut to the size you want to make an adequate cover
  3. A stick to keep the bag upright
  4. Something to seal the bag at the bottom, this can be a rubber band (this works well on small plant pots), or brown tape

Plant your seeds as usual, fill the pot with lots of water, making sure it is full. Plant the stick in the pot to keep the bag/plastic up and cover the pot, making sure it fits well so the moisture stays in. Then seal the bag/plastic with a rubber band or brown tape.

Put the pot in a sunny spot on your balcony. The heat of the sun builds the condensation on the plastic and waters the plant (This is a good science project for kids). If the plants get too big for the bag/plastic sheet, just replace the plastic and stick with new larger ones! Eh Voilá!!

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Posted by on March 9, 2010 in articles, DIY, Green