Dear Sam, A few bugs won’t hurt most plants. Sometimes simple solutions for less toxic living are there if you just think long enough. Hosing bugs off a plant is often all that is needed.
There are many ways to use garlic, onions, strong-smelling roots, and spices for killing and repelling garden pests. Here are the best 3 DIY nontoxic garden pest sprays that I know. These ingredients have been used as repellents successfully for years.
The smell of garlic is very repellent for garden pests.
1 head garlic
2 cups boiling water
Peel and mash the garlic. Place it in a pint mason jar and cover with boiling water. Screw on the lid and let set overnight. Strain. Place 1cup in a spray bottle with 1 additional cup of water. Spray on infested areas. Freeze the rest for another time.
Makes 4 cups spray
Soap is used here as an insecticide. It kills pests by dehydrating them.
1 to 2 tablespoons liquid soap (real soap, not detergent)
1 gallon water
Be sure not to use more than 2 tablespoons soap; too much can kill the leaves. Combine the ingredients in a pail. Transfer 2 cups to a spray bottle. Spray infested areas.
Makes 1 gallon
Peppermint Soapy Spray Variation: Use liquid Castile soap with peppermint. Peppermint is a pest repellent in its own right.
Neem oil, a gum extracted from an evergreen tree, is an excellent all-purpose pesticide.
2 teaspoons essential oil of neem
2 cups water
Combine the ingredients in a spray bottle. Spray on infested areas.
Makes 2 cups
Have a question for Annie? Write to her at annie [@] thetruefind [dot] com
By Annie B. Bond, the best-selling and award-winning author of five healthy/green living books, including Better Basics for the Home (Three Rivers Press, 1999), Home Enlightenment, Clean & Green (1990), and most recently True Food (National Geographic, 2010 and winner of Gourmand Awards Best Health and Nutrition Cookbook in the World). She has authored literally thousands of articles and was named “the foremost expert on green living” by Body & Soul magazine (2009).
Photo credit: “Knoblauch Bluete 3” by Kickof – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –