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Homemade Pesticides

Did you know it’s still possible to keep your garden free from pests without toxins and harmful chemicals?  Most chemical pesticides are toxic to humans as well as pets and small animals that may enter your yard or garden. That’s why homemade pesticides make a lot more sense.  Many home gardeners are looking for ways to control garden pests and diseases without introducing potentially harmful chemicals into the environment.

Here are a few of the most common homemade pesticide recipes for your houseplants, yard and garden that are not only environmentally safe, but will cost you next to nothing.

Houseplant Mix: To keep bugs away!

1 clove garlic

1 small hot pepper

1 quart water

Mix together in a blender. Pour into a spray bottle and apply to plants.

Note: Putting hot sauce on a cotton ball in a houseplant pot will also repel pests.

Cooking Oil Solution: Effective against egg and immature stages of insects

1 cup cooking oil

1 tablespoon liquid soap

Mix oil and soap.  Use 2 ½ teaspoons of this mixture in 1 cup of water.  Spray on the surface and underside of leaves to coat insects in various stages of development.

Note: Vegetable oil can burn plants, especially cabbages, cauliflower and squash, and the hotter the weather, the more it can burn.

Soap Solution: Effective against aphids, mites and whiteflies

1 to 3 teaspoons of household soap (not detergent)

1 gallon water

Mix soap and water. Spray on the surface and underside of infested foliage. The soap acts to paralyze insects, which prevents them from feeding. The pests eventually die of starvation.  For heavy infestations, spray every 2 to 3 days for 2 weeks.  Monitor plants for further required treatments.

Solar Tea: Effective against aphids, thrips and grasshoppers

½ cup hot peppers

½ cup onion and/or garlic cloves

2 cups water

Chop peppers and garlic cloves and add water.  Steep this mixture for 24 hours.  An easy method for steeping the tea is to combine the ingredients in a clear glass jar, seal and set in a sunny location.  Strain and spray onto foliage.

Wormwood Tea: Effective in preventing infestations of aphids, slugs, snails, moth caterpillars, as well as larger pests such as moles and gophers

½ pound (approx.) Artemesia leaves (A. Absinthium is common wormwood)

6 pints of water

Coarsely chop leaves and bring to a boil in 2 pints of water.  Reduce heat and simmer for ½ hour, keeping water at the same level in the pot.  Strain the solution into sprayer adding 1 quart of fresh water.  Use immediately after preparation, covering the surface and underside of foliage.

Pyrethrum: Effective against thrips, aphids and whiteflies

1 pound (approx.) Chrysanthemum cineralifolium flower heads and leaves

6 pints of water

Chop flower parts and bring to a boil in 2 pints of water.  Reduce heat and simmer for ½ hour, keeping water at the same level in the pot.  Strain solution into a sprayer and add 1 quart water.

The pyrethrin that is extracted from the flower parts is a natural irritant that will irritate insects, forcing them out of hiding on plants.  Often this alone will knock them off the plants, but pyrethrum is most effective when used in conjunction with another pesticide.

Salt Solution: Effectively repels caterpillars, red spider mites and leather jackets

2 ounces common salt

1 gallon water

Dissolve salt in water.  Spray onto foliage surfaces and undersides.  Salty taste will discourage chewing insects from feeding on plant foliage.

Home Brew Deer Repellent

Get the hottest peppers available (suggest dried Habaneras)

1 bottle commercial product called Hinder

Palmolive dishwashing liquid

Put a couple of handfuls of the peppers in each container, fill with water and let stand in the sun for 7 days, just like making sun tea.  After 7 days, or as soon as it really begins to smell bad, strain off 2 to 3 quarts of the liquid and put it in a pump sprayer.   Refill the bucket with water and after the second or third time you use it, add some more peppers.  Don’t bother throwing the old ones out, just keep adding to the mixture, the worse it gets the better it works.  Add ¼ to ½ cup of Hinder and a couple of tablespoons of Palmolive liquid.  Fill the sprayer with water.  Spray all the plants you want to protect to the point of run-off once a week or after a heavy rain.  (This can also be used on vegetables with no noticeable taste once they are washed.)  A light misting will work.

Things like tomatoes can be sprayed heavily on the foliage without any concern.  There are no side effects to the spraying, unless you are standing downwind, and then it will take your breath away.  Switch from one bucket to the other every other week and you will always have a supply of spray.

Nicotine Tea: This mixture is poisonous and can actually be absorbed by the skin, so be careful. It can also be absorbed by the leaves of plants; so don’t use it on food crops.

Package of chewing tobacco

1 quart water

Mix tobacco and water in a quart jar and let the jar sit out in the hot sun for a day so that the tobacco has a chance to steep slowly.  Then strain the mixture into a sprayer.

Spearmint Hot Pepper Horseradish Spray: Effective on many different kinds of outside bugs and insects and should be an outside spray.

¼ cup of hot red peppers

½ gallon water

¼ cup of fresh spearmint

¼ cup horseradish, both root and leaves

1 tablespoon of liquid detergent

¼ cup green onion tops

Mix the spearmint leaves, horseradish, onion tops and peppers together with enough water to cover everything.  Then strain the solution.  Add ½ gallon water and the detergent.  You can use this to spray almost any plant safely. Store the mixture for a few days in a cool place.

Homemade Pesticide for Roses

Tomato plant leaves

4 pints of water

1 tablespoon of cornstarch

In your blender make a solution of the leaves, water and cornstarch.  Strain the mix and spray on roses as a natural pesticide.  Keep any unused spray refrigerated.

Isopropyl or Rubbing Alcohol

A cotton ball soaked in this and wiped over leaf surfaces will kill a number of bugs such as aphids, mealybugs, red spider mites, scales and whiteflies that are notorious for attacking your houseplants.  To spray an entire plant, add one cup of the alcohol to 1 quart of water and spray away.

One last home remedy

Catch a bunch of bugs that happen to be bothering our plants, puree them in a food processor and strain the result through cheesecloth before spraying on your plants.  And if you just don’t want to bother mixing, straining and spraying, there is always the hand held vacuum.

Plant herbs to use in insect and pest control

Geraniums: Red spider mites steer clear of oil of geranium.  Plant it near grapes and corn to repel cabbageworms too.

Horseradish: Deters potato bugs.

Hyssop: Plant it in vegetable and flower gardens as an insect repellent – particularly well against white butterfly.  It is recommended as a good companion planting for cabbages and grapes.  But don’t plant it near radishes.

Lavender and Lavender Bags: Helps deter mice, ticks, and moths. Attracts butterflies.

Mint: Spreads prolifically, so keep it contained.  It deters fleas, ants, mice and cabbage butterfly.  Don’t plant it near parsley.

Oregano: Repels cabbage butterfly and cucumber beetle if planted near cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber and grape vine.

Rue: Repels flies, and deters dogs and cats. It’s great planted near strawberries and fig trees.

Tansy: Works to repel ants, flies, fleas and moths, especially good near fruit trees. You can crush the leaves and rub it on an animal’s fur to repel fleas.

Thyme: Deters cabbage worm when planted near cole crops (cabbage, collard, broccoli, etc.)

Wormwood: The plant itself is a deterrent to slugs and snails.

Garlic: If you plant garlic with tomatoes, it will keep away red spider mites. Plant it around fruit trees and it will repel borers.  Spray ponds with garlic based oil to kill mosquitoes, and use garlic pesticide spray on sweet potatoes to repel rabbits.

Garlic pesticide spray Soak 3 to 4 ounces of chopped garlic bulbs in 2 tablespoons of mineral oil for one day.  Dissolve 1 teaspoon of fish emulsion in a pint of water and add it to your solution.  Stir.  Strain liquid and store in a glass container – not metal.  Dilute 1 part solution to every 20 parts of water.  Kills aphids, mosquitoes, and onion flies.

Onion and Mint: Natural flea-beetle repellents.

Keep in mind: not all insects are created equal, and beneficial bugs can be an important part of your all-natural homemade pest-control program.  Good guys like lady beetles and lacewings feed on destructive bugs like aphids, scale, mealybugs and thrip that can devastate a garden in no time.  There are specialized lures that may be purchased to attract beneficial insects.

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