It is always disheartening to discover that your vegetable seedling patch had just been destroyed by a voracious slug, locust, cutworm or caterpillar. Birds, bull frogs and even your neighbor’s cat can also wreak havoc in the garden. Keeping them off your plants is every gardener’s challenge. Fortunately, there are organic solutions (including a home-made pesticide or insecticide) to address each type of problem . Having tried all the suggestions that I found in the web, I have listed below some of these gardening hacks that really worked well for me.
Organic Pesticide Spray Solution
To control aphids and other soft-bodied insects, I use a home-made insecticide spray. Mix together 1 tablespoon of canola oil or any organic vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon of mild liquid soap and 1 liter of unchlorinated water. For the liquid soap, I use an organic dishwashing liquid, or a gentle baby soap.
Spray the solution on the plants at night or in the late afternoon. When spraying, aim at the undersides of the leaves and stem. Repeat the process after 2-3 days until the infestation is finally controlled.
CAUTION: This solution may burn the leaves of some plants, particuIarly pepper, and salad greens. Test it first by spraying on a portion of the plant’s leaves, and then wait for an hour. If you see the plant leaves get a little wrinkled or burned, add more water to dilute the solution. For these plants which have a tendency to burn, use the solution sparingly, or try other alternatives instead (like the garlic and pepper spray).
Garlic and Pepper Solution
I use this organic pesticide solution to deter locusts and other winged insects. It can also repel large animals, like cats and dogs. Using a pestle and mortar, pound 3 cloves of garlic with some really hot chilly peppers, and then add 1 cup of warm water. Alternatively, use 1/2 teaspoon of really hot chili sauce or cayenne pepper. Mix the solution and then add another cup of tap water. Let the solution steep overnight. Strain and discard the solid particles and use the liquid as insect spray. This solution can also be combined with the home-made insecticidal spray (above) for a more effective insecticide and repellant.
Baking Soda has many uses in the garden, and one of them as insecticide. It can kill ants, small slugs and other soft-bodied insects, as it burns their skin. Sprinkle baking soda directly on the soil around the plants. Other uses of baking soda include testing the acidity level of the soil, or as fungicide spray, deodorant for the smelly compost, and as a scrub for cleaning your hands after gardening.
Vinegar to repel ants
Vinegar can be used to repel ants or similar crawling insects, and even some unwanted animals. Dilute 1 part vinegar with 2 parts water. Spray on plants at night or late in the afternoon. You may also combine this solution with the homemade insecticide spray, or the garlic and pepper spray.
CAUTION: Some plants may be sensitive to vinegar. Do not spray this in the morning or early afternoon, or when the weather is hot. To be sure, test on a portion of the plant’s leaves first. If the leaves get burned or wrinkly, discontinue spraying.
Cinnamon as insect repellant
Use cinnamon to repel tiny bugs, particularly ants and flies. Just sprinkle some cinnamon powder on the ground near the roots of affected plants. I also use cinnamon as a rooting agent because of its anti-fungal qualities. It is also known to prevent mildew and root rot in plants.
Hydrogen peroxide is one of those organic chemicals that any gardener must have. It can be used as pesticide, fungicide, soil enhancer and seed germinator, to name a few of the benefits of this solution. As insecticide, hydrogen peroxide gets rid of soil-dwelling pests. I use this to “cleanse” the soil of larvae and parasitic nematodes. Simply mix 1 part hydrogen peroxide with 10 parts of water and use this to water the infected plants or soil twice a week. As pesticide, mix 1 part of hydrogen peroxide with 2 parts of water, and spray on plants every 2-3 days until the infestation is eliminated.
Other cool gardening hacks
While I love seeing birds in the garden, they can also be pesky creatures sometimes. They love to nibble on my seedlings. To get them off the plants, I use discarded old CDs like this one in the photo.
Eggshells can also be used to repel and kill slugs and other similar crawlers. Grind eggshells and sprinkle them on the soil around the plants. The sharp edges will cut the slug’s tender skin causing it to die.
Frogs are my garden friends, but I hate it when they start burying themselves in my garden pots. They love the soft moist soil of my container garden. To get them off the pots, use discarded plastic forks or used chopsticks. Stick them on the soil (pointed part facing upwards) around the plants at 2-inch intervals. Alternatively, eggshells can also be used to get rid of these bull frogs. Just sprinkle cracked pieces of eggshells on the soil around the plants.
For more gardening tips, visit my website at http://www.urbangardeningmom.com. Happy gardening everyone!