There comes a great sense of accomplishment when you grow your own fruits and vegetables. There’s no better feeling than walking into your backyard and picking an apple right from the tree, or basil straight from the stem – knowing it’s perfectly fresh. But where there is fruit, there are bugs. If your garden is being invaded by insects, you may be tempted to get rid of them using a pesticide. Though chemical pesticides are effective in preventing unwanted pests, they also come with a lot of drawbacks. Pesticides are filled with hundreds of toxic chemicals that are not good for your food, body, or the environment.
So how do you get ripe, bountiful fruit without the use of pesticides? Luckily, there are plenty of organic alternatives to insecticides – most of which you can make right in your kitchen with just a few ingredients. If you need to arm your garden against any little critters this spring, here are a few remedies that should help.
Onion and Garlic Spray
Any cook knows that while garlic and onions taste delicious in a meal, they also have very strong scents. While their smell might remind us of grandma’s cooking, it’s not very beloved by insects. Grind one clove of garlic and one onion together in a small bowl. Add the two ingredients to a quart of room temperature water and let it sit for one hour. Then, add one tablespoon of cayenne pepper and organic liquid dish soap. If the mixture is stored in a refrigerator, it will hold its potency for a week.
Citrus Oil and Cayenne Pepper
If ants have decided to move into your garden, this is the solution for you. Mix a few drops of your favorite citrus based essential oil and a teaspoon of cayenne pepper in one cup of warm water. Pour the solution into a spray bottle and generously apply it to the dirt in your garden.
With spring only a few days away, bees, mosquitos, and wasps are starting to make their way out of their nests and into your backyard. Prevent them from getting to your fruit by sprinkling a few drops of eucalyptus oil throughout your garden. This also works well on flower gardens that are buzzing with bees.
In a survey of over 1,300 gardeners in the U.S., slugs were found to be the most bothersome garden pest. Instead of throwing your egg shells out the next time you make breakfast, crush them up and place them throughout your garden. Not only will they prevent slugs from getting to your fruit, they’ll also decompose and leave you with richer, healthier soil.
Tomato Leaf Spray
Tomatoes are part of the nightshade family, which means they contain alkaloids – a natural compound that deters pests. Chop two cups of fresh tomato leaves (which are found at the base of the plant) and mix them into one quart of water. Let the mixture steep overnight and strain it in the morning.
A tea made from powdered kelp will help prevent beetles and Aphids from munching on your fruits. Mix a few small scoops of powdered kelp into a lemon-infused tea and stir it well. Spray the solution to your garden once or twice a week throughout the spring.
If your garden is truly overrun by insects, you may need something a bit more powerful than your average deterrent. Neem oil is a natural hormone distributor and acts as an “antifeedant” for insects, actually disrupting the life cycle of pests at all stages. You can buy all natural, neem oil based mixtures at your local department store, or you can make your own by mixing 2 teaspoons of neem oil and 1 teaspoon of liquid soap. Add the mixture to one quart of water, then shake it well.
Now that Spring is approaching, get ready to start planting flowers, fruits and vegetables with the help of these organic insecticides!