For those annoying sap-sucking insects — such as aphids, thrips, spider mites and whiteflies — create a homemade oil spray using 1 tablespoon of dish soap and 1 cup of cooking oil from a newly open bottle of oil. This concentrated liquid must be mixed with water before use with a ratio of 4 teaspoons of oil mixture to 1 pint of water. Until you are ready to use it, store the concentrated oil mixture in a glass jar in a dark, dry and cool location. Apply a liberal mist of the homemade oil spray to the vegetables once every seven days to thoroughly control the pests.
Baby Shampoo Spray
Baby shampoo is gentle and contains few, if any, unnecessary chemicals. It can also be used in a spray to help control common garden pests on both indoor and outdoor plants, including aphids, whiteflies, scale, thrips and spider mites. Make baby shampoo pesticide spray by combining 2 tablespoons of baby shampoo with 1 gallon of water. Thoroughly spray the solution on the vegetable plants and allow it to stay on for several hours before gently rising it off with a water hose. Do not use this spray in the sun or on plants with hairy leaves or a wax-like coating, such as squash.
The strong scent of garlic keeps certain pests from feeding on your vegetables. For this organic pesticide, combine 10 to 12 garlic cloves with 1 quart of water in a blender. After blending, allow the mixture to set for 24 hours. Then strain it through cheesecloth covering the opening of a glass jar and add 1 cup of cooking oil. This concentrated mixture can be stored for several weeks until ready to use. For an even more powerful homemade pesticide, add 1 tablespoon of cayenne pepper to the concentrated mixture and let it soak for another 24 hours before straining the liquid once again. When ready to use, dilute 1/2 cup of the liquid with 1 gallon of water.
Red Pepper Spray
Known for its ability to add spice and flavor to recipes, red pepper powder can also be used to create a homemade pesticide that is safe to use in vegetable gardens. Combine 1 tablespoon of red pepper powder, 6 drops of dish soap and 1 gallon of water and mix the ingredients thoroughly. Pour the red pepper mixture in a garden sprayer and thoroughly cover the vegetables with the spray. If needed, reapply the spray once a week to keep garden pests such as leafhoppers, spittlebugs, beetles and loopers off the plants.
- Ancient Indians highly revered neem oil as a powerful, all-natural plant for warding off pests. In fact, neem juice is the most powerful natural pesticide on the planet, holding over 50 natural insecticides. This extremely bitter tree leaf can be made in a spray form, or can be bought from a number of reputable companies.
To make your own neem oil spray, simply add 1/2 an ounce of high quality organic neem oil and ½ teaspoon of a mild organic liquid soap (I use Dr. Bronners Peppermint) to two quarts of warm water. Stir slowly. Add to a spray bottle and use immediately.
2. Salt Spray
For treating plants infested with spider mites, mix 2 tablespoons of Himalayan Crystal Salt into one gallon of warm water and spray on infected areas.
3. Mineral oil
Mix 10-30 ml of high-grade oil with one liter of water. Stir and add to spray bottle. This organic pesticide works well for dehydrating insects and their eggs.
4. Citrus Oil and/or Cayenne Pepper Mix
This is another great organic pesticide that works well on ants. Simply, mix 10 drops of citrus essential oil with one teaspoon cayenne pepper and 1 cup of warm water. Shake well and spray in the affected areas.
5. Soap, Orange Citrus Oil & Water
To make this natural pesticide, simply mix 3 tablespoons of liquid Organic Castile soap with 1 ounce of Orange oil to one gallon of water. Shake well. This is an especially effective treatment against slugs and can be sprayed directly on ants and roaches.
6. Eucalyptus oil
A great natural pesticide for flies, bees and wasps. Simply sprinkle a few drops of eucalyptus oil where the insects are found. They will all be gone before you know it.
7. Chrysanthemum Flower Tea
These flowers hold a powerful plant chemical component called pyrethrum. This substance invades the nervous system of insects rendering them immobile. You can make your own spray by boiling 100 grams of dried flowers into 1 liter of water. Boil dried flowers in water for twenty minutes. Strain, cool and place in a spray bottle. Can be stored for up to two months. You can also add some organic neem oil to enhance the effectiveness.
8. Tobacco Spray
Just as tobacco is not good for humans, tobacco spray was once a commonly used pesticide for killing pests, caterpillars and aphids. To make, simply take one cup of organic tobacco (preferably a brand that is organic and all-natural) and mix it in one gallon of water. Allow the mixture to set overnight. After 24-hours, the mix should have a light brown color. If it is very dark, add more water. This mix can be used on most plants, with the exception of those in the solanaceous family (tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, etc.)
10. Chile pepper / Diatomaceous Earth
Grind two handfuls of dry chiles into a fine powder and mix with 1 cup of Diatomaceous earth. Add to 2 liters of water and let set overnight. Shake well before applying.
If you have some easy recipes for making your own organic pesticides, we would love to hear them. Commercial dormant oils may contain petroleum oil or kerosene. A less toxic method is to make your own. Mix 1 cup vegetable oil and 2 tbsp liquid soap in one gallon (4 liters) water. Mix the soap and oil first, then add the water. Shake often during use.
Non-toxic and Homemade Remedies
Homemade remedies are inexpensive and, best of all, you know what is going into your garden. Many homemade sprays have been used with good results to control harmful insects. They usually involve noxious (but non-toxic) ingredients such as garlic, cayenne, stinging nettles or horsetail which are diluted in water and blended to be sprayed on the plants. Here are a few simple formulas:
- Soft-bodied insects (mites, aphids, mealybugs):
Mix one tablespoon canola oil and a few drops of Ivory soap into a quart of water. Shake well and pour into a spray bottle. Spray plant from above down, and from below up to get the underside of the leaves. The oil smothers the insects.
For lawn or garden grubs, there is a natural remedy called milky spore. The granules are spread on the soil and cause the grubs to contract a disease that kills them. This natural control affects only the grubs, leaving the beneficial organisms unharmed. Milky spore multiplies over time and will sit inactive, waiting for grubs to infect. One treatment is said to last 40 years. The grubs are actually the larvae of Japanese beetles. So, when you kill the grubs you kill the beetle.
- Mites and other insects:
Mix two tablespoons of hot pepper sauce or cayenne pepper with a few drops of Ivory soap into a quart of water. Let stand overnight, then stir and pour into a spray bottle and apply as above. Shake container frequently during application.
- Earwigs, slugs, and other soft-bodied garden pests:
Sprinkle diatomaceous earth over plants and around edges of garden beds. The diatoms particles are very small and sharp – but only harmful to the small exoskeletons of insects, slugs and snails. Insects cannot become immune to its action, as it is a mechanical killer – not a chemical one.
- Fungal diseases:
Mix two tablespoons of baking soda into a quart of water. Pour into a spray container and spray affected areas. Repeat this process every few days until problem ceases.
- Powdery mildew:
Mix equal parts milk and water and spray on infected plants. Three treatments a week apart should control the disease.
- Insects and fungal diseases:
Combine one tablespoon of cooking oil, two tablespoons of baking soda and a few drops of Ivory soap into a quart of water. Pour into a spray container and apply as above.
- Insects on fruit trees:
Lime sulfur and dormant oil, available at nurseries and garden centers, can be sprayed on the trunk and branches of dormant fruit trees. This concoction will suffocate insect egg cases. Because the oily spray is heavy compared to the other water-based sprays, you’ll need a pump sprayer. These are fairly inexpensive, and are available to rent from some nurseries. Only use this method while the tree is dormant, however, or it can kill the tree.
- Caution: Sprays which kill harmful insects will also kill beneficial insects. Use these homemade remedies selectively, only spraying the infected plants. Apply them early in the morning or just before dark. Re-apply after a rain. Wear protective clothing when spraying insecticides.
- Soft-bodied insects (mites, aphids, mealybugs):