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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