10 Natural Pesticides for Your Organic Vegetable Garden
When you are planning, designing, creating and planting your organic vegetable garden, it’s unlikely that you think about things like pest control. You’re probably thinking of the plentiful harvest of fresh and healthy vegetables you’re going to be picking every day. However, even organic gardeners need to deal with insects and pests. If going organic is how you want to grow your vegetables, then it makes sense to want to deal with pests in the same manner. Buying commercial pesticides will defeat the purpose of growing organic, and are much more expensive than finding natural methods. Here are 10 items that you can gather from your very own kitchen and chase those pests away so you can enjoy healthy, fresh vegetables.
Save your brewed coffee grounds and sprinkle them over your garden. These will deter beetles and snails, and are known to have a fatal effect on both species. You can also mix the coffee with your soil to give it a darker look. By using coffee grounds as a pesticide, you’re also keeping your garbage out of landfills. Try to buy organic coffee, as regular store-bought varieties from other parts of the world are known to use pesticides for their crops.
These are perfect deterrents for slugs, as they don’t like the rough edges of the shells. Rinse the shells with water and crumble into small pieces over your entire garden. This is another way to keep your garbage out of landfills.
Certain plants can be combined for planting close together to help get rid of pests, fight disease and even improve the overall soil of your entire garden. For example, spinach and peppers go well together, as do celery and leeks, and corn and potatoes. If you follow a specific companion planting design, you’ll find less disease and pests in your garden.
Planting garlic in your garden is a good pest repellant, as the odor is offensive to many insects (and some humans too!). You can also use whole garlic cloves and mix with chunks of pepper and water. Put into a spray bottle and spray your plants. This will have a dizzying and paralyzing effect on flying insects. Use several cloves of garlic for every gallon of water and let the mixture ferment for several hours before using.
Mix a teaspoon of mild liquid soap with water in a spray bottle. You can use Ivory, Murphy’s Oil or other type of natural, mild soap. Spray the mixture over your plants to repel insects, Japanese Beetles and others. Be careful not to use too much on flowering vegetable or fruit plants, as it can hinder production. Make sure that the soap you use is natural and mild, and does not contain any harsh perfumes or fragrances, as these could actually attract insects instead of repelling them.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Mix one to two tablespoons of vinegar for every gallon of water for a natural fungicide and pesticide. The strong smell is offensive to many flying insects and other bugs like beetles and slugs. Try not to use white vinegar, as many varieties are made from petroleum products. Red wine vinegar and balsamic will also work well.
This isn’t just for making bread out of. Cornmeal acts as an excellent fungal control and can be sprinkled directly onto your garden or brewed as a tea to be sprayed on. Mix 1-2 tablespoons of cornmeal per gallon of water. And it will make your garden nice and colorful.
Canola and Vegetable Oil
Mix ½ cup of oil with water to suffocate soft bodied flying insects. Don’t use too much of the mixture on fragile plants, as they may burn the leaves. Murphy’s oil will also work well.
Rubbing alcohol works well but it is made from petroleum products, while drinking alcohols are made from plants. You only need a couple of tablespoons for every gallon of water. If you use too much it will become a super-powered herbicide. Use spirits such as scotch, gin, vodka, whiskey or rum.
Fresh peppers or powdered varieties like cayenne work well and can burn soft bodied insects on contact. Fresh peppers are best used in conjunction with garlic. Some peppers that experts recommend are banana peppers, sweet green and yellow peppers and chili peppers.
You can mix several of these ingredients together into a tea compost brew so that it offers even more protection for your organic vegetable garden. Don’t overuse these brews, though, as it could harm your plants and beneficial insects.
These concoctions will work well on any type of organic vegetable garden that you have planted, including raised beds. They are also quite effective on flower gardens, trees, shrubs and bushes. Like anything, you have to use them in moderation and monitor the results.
If you follow the directions, guidelines and strategies set out by the experts in ecological and organic vegetable gardening, you’ll find that your pest problems will be kept to a minimum. It’s always a good idea, however, to keep at least one of the above methods on hand and ready to be used at a moment’s notice.
By using natural pesticides, you are not contaminating the soil with harmful chemicals and disease-causing substances. If enough people turn to these methods, the demand for commercial pesticides will dwindle, and corporate America might finally get the hint that people want better alternatives to the food they have access to.
Keep in mind that there are some insects that are actually beneficial to your organic vegetable garden. These are called ‘beneficials’ and include lady bugs, damsel bugs, big-eye bugs and spined soldier bugs. They munch on aphids and other soft-bodied insects, but won’t touch your plants. Spend some time online and learn how to spot the pests from the beneficials. Some gardeners actually buy ladybugs by the hundreds and release them into their gardens to feast on all of the other insects.