Dedicated to All Things Gardening – DIY – Cooking – Canning & More…Intertwined with the story of building of our little farm from scratch!
It’s the question we get more than any other this time of year : “What can I use in the garden to naturally control insects like beetles, aphids, and more?”
If you’re like us, the last thing you want to do is to start spraying all types of chemicals and concoctions onto the very food you are trying to grow in order to eat healthier. The good news is you don’t have to. In many cases – with proper crop rotation and watering techniques – you can keep pest problems to a minimum without ever spraying a single drop of anything on them other than water. (See Our 4 Part Series On Garden Set-up And Maintenance)
But as we all know too well – sometimes that just isn’t enough…and when your plants begin to show significant damage from marauding pests – there are ways to control them safely with natural ingredient remedies. Our favorite two of choice are Hot Pepper Spray and Garlic Oil Spray. They are both safe, not-toxic, inexpensive to make – and best of all – really work!
Don’t Jump The Gun – Before You Do Anything - Make Sure You Actually Need To Spray…
So before you start reaching for those hot pepper flakes…first and foremost – make sure you really have a problem before taking action to eradicate or kill pests. Simply seeing a few leaves damaged by aphids, slugs or beetles doesn’t mean you have to leap into action like Ghostbusters hunting down evil villains.
Remember that there are just as many good insects (if not more) than bad at work in your garden. All of them play a vital role in the success of not just your garden – but your yard and landscape. Nature is an amazing process and more times than not – problems or infestations take care of themselves with natural predators. When you spray – you can take out good insects as well as the bad.
To be quite honest – we rarely spray anything whatsoever in our garden or yard – opting to be okay with a little damage here and there from a slug or aphid.
When You Need To Spray…
So with all of that said…what if you really do have a problem? If plants are being severely damaged – and beginning to take a toll on your yields – here are two great homemade remedies that we have found to really help control garden pests – hot pepper spray - and garlic oil spray. The hot pepper spray is effective for aphid control – as well as deterring many rodents and animals such as groundhogs, moles and even deer. The garlic spray is also good for aphids and many insects and slugs. We tend to use the hot pepper spray more when we do have to spray – but they are both effective.
The best time to apply is early in the evening – the plants are dry from the day’s sun – and most insects like to come out to eat in the overnight hours. To apply – you can use a simple spray bottle – making sure to get a nice even coat of the mixture over all of the foliage – even the underside of leaves as much as you can. If you have more than a few plants – using a simple 1 or 2 gallon pump sprayer makes quick work of the chore.
You will need to re-apply every 3 to 5 days to protect your plants – as well as re-applying after a rainfall. As a word of caution – remember the hot pepper spray will burn if you get in your eyes – so spray with caution. If using on vegetables that you are about to pick – make sure to wash the vegetables with water when you harvest to rinse off any of the hot pepper residue. If not – you might have some hot tasting tomatoes!
The best part of using natural sprays is the cost – you can mix gallons of either recipe for under a dollar – making it not just safe to use – but economical! We have listed both recipes below.
Happy Gardening – Jim and Mary
Hot Pepper Spray Recipe :
1 gallon of water, 3 Tablespoons of hot pepper flakes (or 10 peppers chopped up finely if using fresh peppers (cayenne works the best – but you can certainly use jalapenos, Habanero’s or other varieties.)
We prefer to add the ingredients into a pan and bring to a simmer for 15 minutes. Heating the liquid will help to infuse the oils from the hot peppers into the water – making for a more potent spray. Let the mixture sit for about 24 hours to absorb the hot pepper flakes – then strain and add a couple of drops of natural biodegradable dish soap to the gallon of mix. (This helps the mixture stick to the plants better).
You can mix ingredients cold and let sit for 36 to 48 hours - occasionally shaking the jug if you prefer not heating. You will need to strain the cold mix as well and add a few drops of dish soap and you are ready to spray!
Ingredients: garlic, olive oil, dish soap and water,
Add 2 cloves of minced garlic to a one tablespoon of olive oil to 1 gallon of water.
Let the mixture sit and steep for at least 24 hours (48 hours is better)
Strain out the garlic and add a couple of drops of natural biodegradable dish soap to the gallon.
You are ready to spray! It is best to spray the garlic mixture in the evening and not during the hot sun – as the olive oil can content can tend to burn the leaves if hit by the sun when first applied.