5 simple recipes for organic pest control

Have you ever considered making your own natural products to help enrich the soil, repel insects and treat plant diseases? Then here are five recipes you should try if you're intent on giving organic pest control a whirl.

5 simple recipes for organic pest control

1. Compost tea

Homemade compost or special compost preparations available from garden suppliers are the basis of this "tea" – which isn't meant to be consumed as a beverage despite the name.

To make compost tea simply:

  • Put a shovelful of finished compost in a burlap sack and immerse it in a bucket of water for about a week.
  • Strain the resulting tea through cheesecloth or some other porous material to remove all solids.

To apply:

  • Use the tea full-strength to water any and all plants in your garden.

Compost tea not only provides a wide range of nutrients, but it also helps to boost the plants' natural defences against disease.

2. Herbal sprays

Although herbal sprays don't appear to actually kill insects, either upon contact or later, they've been known to act as an effective repellent. As such, spraying plants with a tea made of garden herbs could potentially help to keep them pest-free.

  • Sage, thyme, rosemary, and white clover seem to help ward off attacks from leaf-eating caterpillars.

To prepare the spray:

  • Soak overnight 250 ml (one cup) of fresh leaves from any of the plants mentioned above in 500 ml (two cups) of water, or pour 500 ml (two cups) of boiling water over 500 ml (two cups) of fresh leaves.
  • Strain by following the instructions for compost tea.
  • Dilute solution with an equal amount of water.
  • Add a few drops of liquid soap (not detergent) to act as a spreader.

To apply:

  • Pour the herbal spray into a hand-held spray bottle to disperse it liberally across the plants.

3. Stinging nettle spray

Stinging nettles can be used to make a spray that helps certain plants resist specific types of diseases. When collecting nettles to make the spray always wear long pants, cover your arms and wear good work gloves. Otherwise, you run the risk of getting "stung" and developing a reaction on your skin.

To prepare the spray:

  • Place about 500 g (two cups) of nettle leaves and young stalks in a bag and soak it in four litres (four quarts) of chlorine-free water (regular tap water that has stood uncovered for 48 hours). Cover the bucket and leave it in a warm place for a week.
  • The mixture will have a strong smell when uncovered and may need straining through a cheesecloth.
  • Dilute it with five times its volume of chlorine-free water and it's ready to use.

Stinging nettle spray is perfect for plants known to be susceptible to fungal diseases. It also helps to deter aphids and acts as a foliar feed.

To apply:

  • Using a hand-held spray bottle, spray the plants' leaves every two weeks for continued coverage.
  • Store any unused spray concentrate in a glass jar. It will keep for a month.

4. Starch spray

Starch spray acts very simply by forming a sticky coating on the leaf surface, which traps the pests and holds them until they die.

  • It works best on small pests like aphids and thrips, rather than on large beetles and caterpillars.

To prepare the spray:

  • Mix 30 to 60 ml (two to four tablespoons) of potato flour (available in health food stores) in one litre (four cups) of water. Then add a few drops of liquid soap as a binder. Shake well.

To apply:

  • After shaking the mixture, spray onto the plants ensuring the leaves are completely covered.
  • It will wash off in rain or can be hosed off after a few days, if you wish.

5. Garlic oil spray

A mix of garlic, mineral oil, and soap gives very good results against many sucking and chewing insects, like aphids, cabbageworms, leaf-hoppers, larval mosquitoes, squash bugs, and whiteflies.

  • Some plants are sensitive, so try it on a single shoot first. If there is no damage after 48 hours, spray the entire plant.

To prepare the spray:

  • Soak 75 g (1/3 cup) of finely chopped garlic in 10 ml (two teaspoons) of mineral oil for 24 hours.
  • Dissolve 5 ml (one teaspoon) of insecticidal soap in 500 ml (two cups) of water and add it to the garlic and oil. Stir well and strain by following the same instructions for compost tea.

To apply:

  • Add 15 to 30 ml (one to two tablespoons) to 500 ml (two cups) of water and spray on the pests using a hand-held spray bottle.
  • Store the remainder in a glass container for future use.

Why waste money on pricey, store-bought pest control sprays when it's easy and inexpensive to make your own. These simple, all-natural solutions in the fight against plant pests and diseases can be made from ingredients you already have in and around your home.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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