Tag Archives: organic pest control

Homemade Insect Repellants (Day 15 & 16 of 30 DTABG)

Oh those pesky pests. They can be insatiable sometimes, can’t they? We don’t have too bad a time with them, but from time to time we do fall victim (remember that horrible aphid/kale disaster we had last year? or the aphids and cabbage worm infestation?) Now in the ideal organic garden, the beneficial insects take care of most of the bad bugs. And the few bad bugs they don’t get don’t do too much harm because by growing organically, you are growing strong healthy plants that don’t fall prey to those insects. But this is real life and sometimes your garden won’t be the garden of Eden, so you need to call in back up. If you are like me, when you see large infestation of aphids, earwigs, cabbage worms and other bugs, there is a very strong temptation to just obliterate the area with the most toxic stuff you can find. However I’ve found some great recipes for homemade insect repellents.

Garlic Pest Control Spray
Many cultures around the world have used garlic as a natural antibiotic and anti-fungal remedy. When garlic is combined with mineral oil and soap, it becomes a very effective pest control product. However, when it is sprayed, it is not a selective insecticide. It can be used to control cabbage worm, leaf hoppers, squash bugs, white fly, but will also affect beneficial insects so be careful where and when you apply this product.

3 ounces finely chopped garlic
2 tsp mineral oil
1 pint water
¼ ounce garden safe soap

Allow the garlic to soak in the mineral oil for 24 hours. Add water and garden safe soap. Stir well and strain into a glass jar for storage. This is your concentrate. To use: Combine 1-2 tablespoons of concentrate in 1 pint of water to make the spray. Do be careful not to make the solution too strong. While garlic is safe for humans, when combined with oil & soap, the mixture can cause leaf injury on sensitive plants. Always test the lower leaves of plants first to make sure they aren’t affected.

Dormant Oil
The purpose of an oily spray is to suffocate over wintering pests, such as aphids and mites. Most commercial products are made of kerosene or other petroleum oil. A much less toxic and more sustainable approach is to use a renewable resource such as vegetable oil.

1 cup vegetable oil
2 tbsp garden friendly liquid soap
1 gallon water

Combine the soap and oil and stir to blend thoroughly. Add the water a bit at a time, stirring as you go (water and oil don’t really emulsify; the soap helps the process). Pour the mixture into a clean garden spray container. Spray a coat of the mixture over the entire plant. Shake the container frequently as you are spraying. This recipe makes 1 gallon.

Homemade Insecticidal Soap
Soap has been used for centuries as an all-purpose pesticide. It disrupts insects’ cell membranes, and kills pests by dehydration. The key is not to use too much soap, or you’ll also kill the vegetation near the pests. If you follow the proportions of soap to water in the Soap Spray recipe, below, the vegetation should be fine.

1 to 2 tablespoons garden safe soap (not detergent)
1 quart water

Combine ingredients in a bucket, mix, then transfer to a spray bottle as needed.

All Purpose Pesticide Soap Spray
Strong smelling roots and spices such as garlic, onions, horseradish, ginger, rhubarb leaves, cayenne and other hot peppers, are all known to repel insects.

A handful of roots and spices
Boiling water to cover the roots and spices
Insecticidal Soap Spray (recipe, above)

Add the roots and spices to the bottom of a mason jar. Cover with the boiling water, screw on the top, and let set overnight. Strain, and add to the Soap Spray. Note that this will rot, so use it all up or freeze leftovers for another time. Place into a spray bottle and apply to the plants to control pests.

Want to read about more homemade insect repellents, here’s more:

  1. Natural Aphid Repellant Recipes
  2. Easy Earwig Trap
  3. Another Earwig Repellant using Diatomaceous Earth DE Crawling Insect Killer – 1.5 lbs which you can buy online.

Have you found an effective natural bug repellent?

p.s. sorry for cheating and combining two days into one, I got caught up in helping Scott rebuild our perimeter fence today. What a yucky job!

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Filed under 30 Days to a Better Garden, Bad Bugs, Good Bugs

Our Little Praying Pet + Free Download

Praying Mantis
The other day while walking through the yard with my camera I glanced down at my shoulder and saw this little guy sitting on it. There he was sitting here, just along for a free ride, as I strolled along. Of course my little one wanted desperately to hold him. This hasn’t been the first time we’ve had a hitch hiking praying mantis. They are friendly little creatures and love to hop on for a free ride when they see that you’re walking through the garden. And they’re bad ass too. Read this description I got from Wikipedia:

Mantises are notable for their hunting abilities. They are exclusively predatory, and their diet usually consists of living insects, including flies and aphids; larger species have been known to prey on small lizards, frogs, birds, snakes, and even rodents. Most mantises are ambush predators, waiting for prey to stray too near. The mantis then lashes out at remarkable speed. Some ground and bark species, however, pursue their prey rather quickly. Prey are caught and held securely with grasping, spiked forelegs (“raptorial legs”); the first thoracic segment, the prothorax, is commonly elongated and flexibly articulated, allowing for greater range of movement of the front limbs while the remainder of the body remains more or less immobile. The articulation of the head is also remarkably flexible, permitting nearly 300 degrees of movement in some species, allowing for a great range of vision (their compound eyes have a large binocular field of vision) without having to move the remainder of the body.

Ellen asked me the other day what we did for pest control so Scott and I had a talk about it this morning over breakfast. And really, we take a preventative approach to pests. When we first moved in 6 growing seasons ago, we did have a pest problem, and a lack of water retention problem, and a whole lot of other problems. Our plants were small and bug eaten, but as we’ve learned more and more about organic gardening we’ve learned that the key to pest prevention is to nurture healthy plants. Give them highly nutritious soil, water them correctly and provide habitats for beneficial insects.

Now while we do have our fair share of white flies, aphids, grasshoppers and other pests out in the yard, after six years of returning the soil back to health, we have them outnumbered with ladybugs, praying mantis’, birds, chickens, soldier beetles and all sorts of good little guys. And really at this point we don’t do much to control the bad bugs. We collect snails when we see them and pick off a worm or two, but at this point we let nature take it’s course and live with the little bug bites we do get. Of course, that’s not to say that we haven’t lost a plant or two, but really that was my own lazy fault for not jumping onto of the situation earlier.

If you’d like to read up more about different pests and what you can do to organically treat them you can download this free pdf. It’s an exerpt from the ebook I have over in my sidebar: How to Start an Organic Garden. You can download the pdf here, it’s full of photos and treatment ideas and its yours for the taking.

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Filed under Bad Bugs, Good Bugs, what we've learned

radishes

Just picked radishes
Here are our french breakfast radishes, bug bites and all. Our friend, Doug, told us this weekend that his favorite organic bug control is to mix soy sauce and canola oil and put out a dish of it in the garden. The bugs are attracted to the soy sauce, but once they get the oil on their legs they can’t move. He said he can’t find anything else to compete with it. This might be just the fix for our radish bed.

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Filed under Bad Bugs, just picked, what we've learned