Anyone who says they love gardening and are practicing gardeners would bear witness to an intolerable irritation that occasionally visits their plants. These are pests! And sometimes, no matter what you do you can’t get rid of them. Another point to consider is the poisonous chemicals in commercial chemical based insecticides that may harm the health of your family. You will not want to use chemical pesticides on edible plants.
But, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. There are non-chemical solutions out there that are natural and do not use chemicals. Yes, you can fight these tiny devils and keep your family safe. All you have to do is a little bit of DIY.
Before we proceed, please read the warnings below…
Natural Repellent for Slugs and Aphids
Keep slugs and aphids away from window boxes with a homemade, non-chemical pest spray.
Place one peeled onion, two peeled garlic cloves, and one teaspoon cayenne pepper in the jar of a blender. Add three cups of water, and blend until smooth. Let the mixture sit overnight, strain the liquid into a spray bottle, and coat plants generously. The solution can be kept refrigerated in the bottle for up to one week.
Natural Repellent for Ants
Turn away pesky ants for days on end with this non-toxic repellent.
Pour equal amounts of water and white vinegar into a spray bottle, and shake the mixture well. Then spray the solution in areas where ants are common such as kitchen floors or the crevices in painted baseboards from which the pests often enter. You can also use the repellent outside.
Alcohol Repellent for Mealy Bugs
Before you read on, please be warned that alcohol may cause leaf damage. Alcohol sprays work on mealy bugs and have been used successfully on houseplants and tropical foliage plants. Most of these have heavy, waxy cuticles that are not easily burned.
Mix 1 to 2 cups alcohol (Use only 70% isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol) per quart of water (1 quart=4 cups) into a sprayer. Using undiluted alcohol as a spray is very risky for plants.
Since alcohol may damage leaves, always test your spray mix on a few leaves of your plants first. If the spray kills the pests and no leaf damage shows within the next 2 or 3 days, go ahead and spray further, using exactly the same ingredients and proportions you tested. If an infestation is well established, it will be necessary to make a series of applications, at 10 to 14 day intervals.
You can also use cotton dip into the mixture and touch each bug individually if you are worried about damage leaves. Although this is time consuming, but it is reliable.
Basic Soap Spray
This concoction is most effective on soft bodied insects such as mites, aphids, white flies and thrips. Soap penetrates the cell membrane and causes the pest to dry out.
Two tablespoons of biodegradable dishwashing liquid mix with 1 gallon of warm water (1 US gallon=16 US cups) and use as a spray. Repeat as necessary.
Neem oil repels all kinds of biting, chewing and sucking garden pests and are easily found in sundry shops. It is a vegetable oil pressed from the fruits and seeds of the neem (Azadirachta indica), an evergreen tree which is endemic to the Indian subcontinent and has been introduced to many other areas in the tropics.
Mix one full cap of the neem oil to one liter of water and use a bottle sprayer to apply on the plant.
Ladybugs as Pests Controllers
You can use a little help from this little bug, as they love aphids. The ladybug lays her eggs near the prey in order to provide its larvae with food, ie. Aphids. How smart! However, there are not commercial breeders of ladybugs. So, if you see them in the garden, welcome them with open arms.
Personally, I have tried neem oil and found that it works fine. I can see the pests jumping halter shelter when the neem spray comes in contact to their bodies. Soap has been very effective for me as well but it cannot be used on every plant as it could dry up some species of plant leaves. But if all this talk about buying your own ingredient and mixing your own concoction is just tiresome to you, in recent years a lot of commercial companies are producing these natural pesticides. However, it would be more pricy compared to buying the ingredients and making your own.
Another thing to note is that natural pesticides have no holding power. You need to spray the plants on a regular basis. But it is economical and harmless to you. Also another very important point to note, natural repellent does not harm the environment. That’s more important as chemical pesticide can harm your health if you inhale or get in contact with it.
I hope this information helps and I also hope it lessen your dependency on chemical pesticides. For more information join a plant forum and there you will get loads of information and advice from passionate gardeners.