It’s really nice to have a home garden to make you appreciate the hard work of the farmers who make an effort to grow our food. It can be quite an experience to face the challenges of dealing with weather, weeds, insects and even soil fertility. What’s even more fun is when you know that you are following the organic protocols and you avoid using potentially harmful products.
It can be quite a pain to keep your crops healthy especially if you’re facing a quantity of plant-eating insects. There are a couple of approaches that you can do in order to keep your harvests away from these pests. You can always try the traditional removing the pests by hand, but this isn’t always effective especially when the invasion has become a little too late. There’s a less time-intensive approach which can easily knock-back insect populations by using homemade insecticides. However, it’s best to take note that not all insects are harmful and pesticides that are too harsh can do more harm than good.
Take note that even if these options are considered natural, these are still homemade insecticides and it may or may not harm your soil, your garden and anyone who handles it. It may still be deemed toxic to humans and other animals so it’s best to still do a couple of research in order to choose what is most effective for you and your garden.
Oil Spray Insecticide
Basically, it is made from vegetable oil that is mixed with mild soap. A great option is Dr. Bronners castile soap which can eliminate insects that are destroying your garden. Insects like aphids, mites, thrips and the like. All you have to is to mix 1 cup of vegetable oil with 1 tablespoon of soap. Cover the mixture and shake thoroughly. However, when you’re about to apply the mixture, you have to add 2 more teaspoons of the oil spray mix with 1 quart of water. Then, shake thoroughly. Spray this mixture directly on the plants that are affected by the pests. This works by letting the oil coat the bodies of the insects, thus suffocating them.
Soap Spray Insecticide
This type of pesticide is effective for removing mites, aphids, whiteflies, beetles, and other little insects. To make this, mix a basic soap spray by mixing 1 ½ teaspoons of mild liquid soap with 1 quart of water. Then, spray the mixture directly on the plants. This works a lot like the oil spray insecticide. It is highly recommended to use this in evenings or early mornings. Do not apply it during the hot sunny part of the day as it may cause adverse effects.
Neem Oil Insecticide
This is basically oil extracted from the seeds of the neem tree which is known to be a powerful and very effective insecticide. It can disrupt the life cycle of insects, so it’s very useful to anyone who wants to be an organic gardener. It acts like an “antifeedant” for insects. What’s really good about neem oil is that it’s considered nontoxic to pets, birds and fishes. Not only that but it is also useful against powder mildew and other fungal infections on plants. All you have to do is buy neem oil from garden stores or any natural food markets. You may follow the instructions in the packaging or create a basic mixture of 2 teaspoons of neem oil and 1 teaspoon of mild liquid soap. Shake this thoroughly and add 1 quart of water before you spray it on the affected plant.
Garlic Insecticide Spray
Garlic can smell good for some yet repellent to others. This plays a big role when used as an insecticide. However, there are no actual studies that garlic works as an insecticide. It leans towards an insect repellant to some, but there’s no harm in trying. To make this, take 2 whole bulbs of garlic and puree them and add a little water. Leave the mixture to sit overnight, then strain it and place in a jar. Add ½ cup of vegetable oil, a teaspoon of mild liquid soap and water to fill the jar. Before using this, add 1 cup of this mixture to 1 quart of water and spray directly to your plants.
Diatomaceous Earth as Pesticide
This is a natural substance that is basically a sedimentary rock that’s formed by fossilized algae. It doesn’t work by poisoning the insects, but instead its abrasive qualities and its capabilities of absorbing lipids from the insects’ exoskeleton. Basically, this dehydrates them to death. This diatomaceous earth is highly available in garden stores. All you have to do is to dust the ground around your plants or even directly over the plant. This can immediately help control snails and slugs from destroying your plants. However, if it rains you have to reapply it.
Chili Pepper Insecticide Spray
Chili peppers work like the garlic spray. It’s considered as an insect repellant too. You have a choice of using either fresh hot peppers or a chili pepper powder. To make the mixture, simply blend ½ cup of peppers with 1 cup of water, then add 1 quart of water until it boils. Let it cool then strain the chili leftovers, then add a few drops of liquid soap. Spray it directly to the plant.
Tomato Leaf Insecticide
Tomatoes contain alkaloids or “tomatine” which can get rid of aphids and other insects. To make this, chop 2 cups of fresh tomato leaves and add 1 quart of water and leave overnight. Strain the tomato out and spray directly to the plant.
All-in-one Insecticide Spray
The name says it all. It’s a combination of recipes that aim to repel or kill insects that pester your plants. To make this, all you have to do is puree 1 bulb of garlic and a small onion. Add 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper powder and let it steep for 1 hour. Strain the mixture and add a tablespoon of liquid soap. Shake well. In order for this insecticide to be effective, you have to spray it directly to the upper and lower surface of the leaves.
Modify and experiment if needed
There are more varieties of natural pesticides available. One is Bt or soil microbe which is toxic to insects, milky spore, nicotine, pyrethrum which is derived from a variety of a daisy flower, and iron phosphate. You may mix and match these ingredients if you feel that it can give you a better outcome and help your garden to thrive more.
However, take note that the goal isn’t to kill all of the insects in your garden as some insects are not harmful and may even help in giving life to your garden. As any other ecosystems, it requires a healthy balance in order to be beneficial to insects, microbes, fungi, soil and the plants themselves.