With the arrival of summer, most home garden enthusiasts have either already planted their fruits and veggies or are planning to do so very soon.
There’s a special thrill that comes along with harvesting your own food.
Until the bugs get involved.
Every year, North Americans use an estimated 136 million pounds of pesticides in their home and gardens.
Yes… that’s 136 million pounds each and every year.
That’s a worrying statistic, not only because pesticides have cancer-causing chemicals harmful for our bodies (and our pets), but they also negatively impact the surrounding ecosystem and natural environment.
Fortunately, since before pesticides existed, people have used natural repellents to ward off bugs. These repellents are healthy and more inexpensive options in comparison with the toxic alternatives.
Natural repellents typically involve noxious (but nontoxic) ingredients such as garlic, cayenne, or stinging nettles which are then diluted in water and blended to become a spray.
To get you started in your quest for nontoxic insect prevention, I’m providing you with a handful of natural recipes to keep your garden free of pests.
Hopefully, by implementing these tips and utilizing these natural bug repellents, your garden will provide you with a host of wonderful fresh fruits and vegetables to consume this upcoming summer.
Garlic Oil Spray
Diallyl disulfide and diallyl trisulfide are compounds found in garlic that irritate or are deadly to various insects, such as whiteflies, aphids, and most beetles.
To make this spray, put three to four cloves of minced garlic into two teaspoons of mineral oil. Let the mixture sit overnight. The next morning, strain the garlic out of the oil. Then, add the oil and one teaspoon of biodegradable dish soap to one pint of water.
Store the resulting mixture in a BPA-free bottle or glass jar. To use it as a spray, further dilute the mixture by adding two tablespoons of the mixture to one pint of water.
One note of caution: don’t apply this garlic spray on a sunny day, as the oils can cause foliage to burn.
Derived from the Eucalyptus tree, Eucalyptus oil is an excellent pesticide for flies, bees, and wasps.
The oil can be found at most health food stores or in the essential oil sections of pharmacies that tend to sell more natural products.
Add ¼ teaspoon of the oil to one cup of water in a spray bottle. Shake well to ensure it mixes properly (do this before each application as oil separates from water), and apply to plants and areas within your garden where you’ve typically seen insects.
For best results, reapply the spray every three days.
As a bonus, if you’re a mosquito magnet, have no fear–this diluted oil mixture can also be used as an insect repellent on people and pets.
The oil that comes from Neem, a tree with very bitter leaves, is considered to be the most powerful natural bug repellent on the planet. In fact, people in ancient India swore by it as a solution for warding off pests.
To make a neem oil spray, add a 1/2 ounce of high-quality organic neem oil and ½ teaspoon of a mild organic liquid soap (such as Dr. Bronner’s) to two quarts of warm water. After stirring the mixture slowly, add it to a spray bottle and use immediately.
These natural bug repellents provide you with a solution that’s strong enough to ward off bugs but won’t do any harm to you, your family, or the environment.
In addition to using these sprays, you can also prevent bugs from ruining your plants by…
- Pulling out any weak plants or weeds as they tend to be a breeding ground for bugs.
- Using natural fertilizer to make your plants stronger.
- Watering your plants earlier in the day to keep foliage dry, as wet plants attract more insects.
Why not replace other potentially toxic household items with natural alternatives? Learn more about how to make chemical-free cleaners here.