By Community Garden Network Co-Coordinator Lydia George
It is getting to be the time of year when many summer vegetables and fruits are beginning to flourish, and with them comes an abundance of insects and rodents who want to share in the bounty. Here are some common recipes for homemade pest control sprays that will keep these uninvited guests from eating your harvest, that don’t rely on harsh, dangerous chemicals. You can also combine these recipes together for even more potent concoctions!
1. Spicy Pepper Spray: the spicy flavor in hot peppers are produced by the plant as a
natural repellent, to keep animals and insects from eating their fruit. Humans are the
only animal that ignores the pain and finds these chemicals to be a palatable flavor! That means that Cayenne Pepper can be used as a great pest control for insects and rodents in your garden! Add either half a cup of fresh ground or dried pepper into 2 cups of boiling water. Chili Peppers, Cayenne Peppers, Habanero Peppers will all work, the
the spicier the better! Allow the peppers to infuse in the boiling water for 15-20 minutes,
remember to do this in a well ventilated area because the air in your kitchen will get
spicy. Strain the pieces of pepper out of the water and store in a container. This mixture
will be very potent, so you can mix a few spoonfuls into whatever spray bottle you have
with 1 part pepperwater : 10 part tap water ratio. Coat the leaves of your crops with this
spray to deter many kinds of insects, rabbits, deer, groundhogs, aphids and mites!
2. Vegetable Oil Spray: vegetable oil is a cheap and accessible remedy for many mites
and aphids etc. The oil will coat the insect and clog the pores they use to breath. You
can mix a cup of oil with a tablespoon of biodegradable dish soap for an even stronger
effect. Like with the pepper spray, you only need to mix a few drops of the oil mixture
into the water in your spray bottle, shake well and then coat the affected area of your
plant with the spray. Common areas of your plant that may be getting attacked are the
underside of the leaf, the area where the leaf meets the stem, and any newly emerging
3. Garlic and Mint Spray: garlic is another natural pest deterrent, mostly for insects.
Interplanting garlic with your other vegetables can act as a natural barrier against many
pests during the spring! But after you harvest all your garlic in June you can save some
cloves for making this spray! Mint is also a plant whose smell is a natural pest deterrent.
Mix 3 cups of mint leaves with 7-10 garlic cloves and a small amount of water in a
blender to make a fine paste. Add this into a pot of boiling water and let it boil for 15-20
minutes. Then you can cover the pot and let it sit overnight, so it gets extra potent. The
next day you can strain out all the plant material and put your concoction into a container for storage. This is another recipe that you can dilute with water in your spray bottle to make it last longer.
There are other natural product options like neem oil and diatomaceous earth which make for great pest control, although they are a bit more expensive than the options listed above!
Wishing you all a bountiful harvest this season!
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