Synthetic, chemical-laden pesticides can do more harm than good to a garden, lawn, or any other type of vegetation you might try to grow. Not only is the health of your plants and vegetables in question, you also put yourself and your pets at risk of accidentally ingesting such chemicals. Using natural, organic pesticides improves the health of your garden and some handy pesticides can even be made using simple ingredients you might find lying around the house.
A few months ago, we touched on the benefit of using organic, natural pesticides and some household items that can help you get the job done. Let’s discuss a few more options you have for homemade pesticides.
All synthetic pesticides are based on a natural toxin found in plants or some type of organisms.
Chrysanthemum is where pyrethroids originally came from. Nicotine from the tobacco plant is toxic and makes up the main ingredient in termite control products. Oils are the main aromatic components of plants. You can buy them concentrated and mix with soap to emulsify in water and help stick to the plant. Citronella is probably the best known mosquito repellent. It comes from a geranium commonly called the mosquito plant. Tinctures are naturally-extracted concoctions of a plant material in an alcohol solution. You can make your own tinctures or extracts following traditional recipes. We like to use EM-1 to make extracts. The acids in EM-1 extract the properties from the plant, leaving them in the liquid that is strained and sprayed on plants. We generally will add plant material when making Activated EM-1. Activated EM-1 is much less expensive than alcohol and the fermentation by-products add several beneficial compounds for plants that alcohol alone will not.
Do you have an ongoing battle with ants or roaches? A mixture of orange citrus oil, water, and soap works as a great deterrent for these pesky, little creatures. Mix three tablespoons of castile soap, an ounce of orange oil, and about a gallon of water together. Shake the mix and you can spray it right on the bugs in question.
Another great ant treatment is a mix of citrus oil (a dozen drops or so should do it), a teaspoon of cayenne pepper, and around a cup of warm water. Shake the mix and spray it on your ant-infested areas.
Having problems with aphids? Do you also have a friend who smokes? Invite them over to your house for a get-together and have them deposit all of their cigarette butts (hopefully organic tobacco!) into a container with some water. Allow the mixture to sit for at least 24 hours. If necessary, dilute the mixture with more water until it is pale brown in color. Filter out the butts, and spray directly onto your aphid-ridden plants to take care of the little leaf eaters. Just be careful to not use this mixture on tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, and other plants in the solanaceous family.
Keep those flies and wasps away from your plants with a few drops of eucalyptus oil near plants where you tend to find them congregating.
One of the easiest deterrents of pesky insects is something you can plant right into your garden, dispersing it throughout your other crops and flowers. This is known as companion planting. There are several books on the subject. Give it a try! Plant some garlic bulbs! Not only will this distinctly aromatic plant deter those garden invaders, but you can use it for a myriad of recipes in the kitchen.
While organic pesticides are a great option for controlling the inhabitants of your garden, proceed with caution before making a widespread change to your pest control routine. If you have multiple plants that are in need of treatment, pick the worst of the bunch to test your homemade concoctions. It’s better to lose one plant to a too-high concentration of pesticides than to lose the whole group. Using soil conditioners like EM-1 in combination with your homemade pesticide efforts will result in strong, healthy plants grown in a safe, pest-free environment.