10 Great Homemade Pesticides

>> Friday, December 10, 2010

Whenever I hear the word pesticide I can’t help but picture a sterile landscape devoid of any wildlife, both beneficial and predatory.  If you feel the need to use a pesticide then you are either not giving your plant life the attention it needs or some outside force is at play.

No landscape can be considered ‘healthy’ unless it has beneficial as well as predatory insects. Nature has a remarkable way of maintaining a proper balance between the two without our help. However, sometimes an imbalance is created, through no fault of your own, by something being introduced into the environment. Maybe it is caused by the introduction of an pest infested plant, maybe some well-meaning neighbor sprayed their yard and chased some unwelcomed guests into your yard.

For these situations you may find it necessary to use a pesticide. If so, then your first thought should always be to make your own instead of running to the garden center for some man-made chemical. I don’t care how ‘safe’ the label claims the product to be. Save your hard earned money and the health of your plants by using one of these easily made natural concoctions.

1-Mild soap and water.  One of the safest and most effective homemade pesticides is some dishwashing soap mixed with water.  In general, it just takes a few drops of soap into a spray bottle followed by water.  You don’t need to use an excessive amount of soap to get the trick done (just one tablespoon).  Basically, this mostly irritates the pests and gets them to leave on their own.

2-Spearmint hot pepper horseradish spray.  To make this powerhouse recipe mix ¼ cup of hot red peppers, ½ gallons of water, ¼ cup of fresh spearmint leaves, ¼ cup of horseradish (both the root and leaves), and ¼ cup green onion tops.  You basically soak everything in water for several hours (overnight) and then drain and save the water adding 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap.

3-Salt and water. This is a very simple irritant used to chase away cabbage worms and spider mites. Mix 2 tablespoons salt in 1 gallon of water and then spray that mixture onto your plants.

4-Oil and soap spray. You can also mix in one cup of vegetable oil (sunflower oil, corn, soybean, or even peanut oil will work) with one tablespoon of mild liquid dish soap and two cups of water.

5-Ammonia spray.  This one is not my first choice as the smell is really strong and the ammonia can have negative effects as well (especially if you use too much).  You mix this in a 1:7 ratio with water and apply the solution to the infected area.  This should get rid of most insects (reapply as needed).

6-Citrus spray. Soak 1 cup of lemon or orange peels, ¼ cup of spearmint leaves (or sage), and ¼ cup of lavender leaves overnight in a gallon of water.  Drain this mixture and save the water along with 1 tablespoon if liquid dishwashing soap and then apply that solution to your plants.

7-Wormwood tea.  If you have a problem with moths, slugs, snails, or even moles and gophers you might want to mix up some wormwood tea.  This involves about ½ pound of Artemesia leaves (A. Absinthium is common wormwood) along with 6 pints of water.  You coarsely chop the leaves and bring them to a boil in 2 pints of water. Then you simmer that solution for 30 minutes pouring the result into a spray bottle along with a quart of fresh water.

8-Sugar and boric acid.  If you find yourself struggling with an army of ants (or in an all-out battle) you may want to mix one part confectioner’s sugar to one part boric acid powder and sprinkle that around the perimeter of ant mounds or anywhere you see a lot of ant activity.

9-Garlic spray.  You can soak 1-15 diced garlic cloves in 2 cups of mineral oil for 24 hours and then strain that solution adding the liquid to a spray bottle.  Then apply that to your plants.

10-Onion, peppers, and garlic.  If you really want something that packs a nice punch then you can grind 3 large onions, 3 hot peppers, and 1 bunch of garlic and place them into a gallon of water.  Let that mixture sit overnight and then strain the spices and top off your gallon with fresh water.

All of these solutions should be applied thoroughly to the surface of the plants or grass including any underside to make sure that you don’t leave the pests a safe haven to hide and/or feast on while the effects of the natural pesticide wear off and/or get washed away by rain and/or your sprinkler system.

Take note that you can grow almost all of these ingredients in your own garden.


Anne McCormack December 10, 2010 at 6:59 PM  

I've tried the soap & water and found it effective. I once found a recipe for a tobacco spray. I soaked cigarette butts in soapy water. It worked, but I discontinued it because I read the spray is hazardous to the gardener as well as the pests! Thanks for the natural--and safe--tips.

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