“The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul.”
This famous quote by English poet Alfred Austin beautifully summarizes how gardening makes a person happy and healthy from the inside out.
Those who love gardening take care of their plants just like their children.
Among other things, you worry about slow-moving insects and other pests that can cause significant damage to your vegetable, plants, herbs and flowers.
Slugs, snails, earwigs, caterpillars, aphids, earworms, ants and mites are just some of the destructive pests that should not be allowed to roam free in your garden.
While pesticides can take care of these problem insects, they are typically not environmentally friendly and often contain harmful chemicals that you don’t want on your homegrown produce.
Fortunately, many natural remedies can help control garden pests without damaging the plants or soil.
Here are the top 10 home remedies to control garden pests.
1. Neem Oil
Neem oil is effective at saving plants infested with aphids and other harmful pests, such as mealy bugs, cabbage worms, beetles, leaf miners, ants and caterpillars.
The organic compounds in neem oil act as insect repellents and are also effective in controlling the spread of many types of fungi that infect plants.
Even the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has found that cold-pressed neem oil is safe and does not pose a risk to people or the environment, when used according to label directions.
- To make a foliar spray, pour 1 quart of warm water, 2 teaspoons of neem oil and 1 teaspoon of dishwashing liquid into a spray can. Spray the solution on the foliage and stems, making sure that it gets to places where insects usually hide. Spray every 3 days for at least 2 to 3 weeks.
- Alternatively, you can use neem-based products available in the market to get rid of harmful garden pests. Follow the instructions on the label.
Always water the plants a few hours prior to spraying.
2. Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth, made from fossilized water plants called diatoms, works as a good all-purpose insect repellent and treatment.
It can help you get rid of insects like aphids, ants, mites, earwigs, bedbugs, adult fleas, beetles, cockroaches, snails and slugs.
It is deadly to animals with exoskeletons, like most insects. The microscopic fossils have razor-sharp edges that can damage the insects’ outer shell, causing them to dehydrate and die.
- Fill a shaker container with diatomaceous earth.
- Sprinkle it on the garden bed and the surrounding area to deter pests from reaching the plants and kill those that may have already invaded.
- Repeat as needed.
3. Peppermint Oil
Another great way to control pests in your garden is through the use of essential oils from bioactive plants like peppermint. This herb has strong antimicrobial and pest-repelling properties.
In addition to peppermint, you can also use other essential oil like that of rosemary, thyme, eucalyptus, lavender, clove, spearmint, basil, and citronella.
Cedarwood and pine essential oils also act as highly effective repellents for gastropods like slugs and snails.
- Put 2 cups of water in a spray bottle.
- Add 2 capfuls of organic liquid soap in it.
- Add 1 teaspoon peppermint essential oil. You can also add ½ teaspoon of lemon eucalyptus oil, orange oil, and cedar oil.
- Mix well and spray this solution on your garden plants to repel harmful pests and insects.
- Repeat as needed.
4. Hot Pepper
Pepper works as a broad-spectrum, organic treatment for a number of garden pests, including aphids, lace bugs, cabbage maggots and spider mites.
According to the National Pesticide Information Center in the U.S., pepper works as a deterrent for a range of pests that eat or damage shrubs, trees and smaller plants.
- Ground cayenne pepper can be dusted around the base of plant stems from time to time to thwart crawling pests that feed on seedlings.
- Put ½ cup of chopped red chili peppers and 2 cups of water in a blender. Blend briefly, then strain the solution and pour it into a spray bottle. Add 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap also. Shake thoroughly and then spray it around your garden boundary. Use it every 4 to 5 days until you are satisfied with the results.
Garlic is a great organic pesticide that can destroy harmful insects and keep your valuable plants safe. It is highly effective against aphids, stinkbugs and harlequin cabbage bugs that can really destroy plants.
- Put 1 entire garlic bulb and 2 cups of water in a blender.
- Blend on high speed until the garlic is finely pureed.
- Set it aside for a day.
- Strain and then mix the liquid into 1 gallon of water. You can also add 1 teaspoon nof cayenne pepper powder.
- Transfer the solution to a spray bottle.
- Spray the tops and bottoms of your plants’ leaves thoroughly.
- Apply about once a week, and after a rain.
6. Beer Trap
Slimy critters like slugs and snails cause trouble year after year for gardeners. But you can use your favorite beer to control them.
Slugs and snails are attracted to beer. It’s not the alcohol but the yeast or yeast by-products that attracts them.
- Fill a few empty cans with beer.
- Bury the cans in your garden soil up to the rim.
- Leave them overnight so that the creepy creatures can move into the beer and drown.
- The next morning, throw out all the cans and replace them with a fresh batch.
- Repeat daily as needed until you are satisfied with the result.