Gardening Tips

DIY Pest Control

Posted by Best Gardening Team on 5/23/2018
DIY Pest Control
DIY Pest Control

It’s getting to be that time of year again when all the little creepy crawlers come out to see and taste what you’ve planted in the garden. Pest control can be a real challenge for the organic or chemical free gardener. To assist you in your journey to eat clean, chemical free veggies and fruits, we have created this DIY pesticide guide.

One of the easiest ways to determine what you should pretreat your garden with is to plant a pest patch. A pest patch is a small plot that you plant away from your garden. You will take no action against pests in the pest patch. This will allow you to see what is naturally in your area and what may be interested in your garden. Pest patches are great for gardeners with children. For many little ones it is fun to see what wanders into the patch.

Insecticidal soaps

For: Small soft bodied insects, aphids, mealybugs and spider mites.
Insecticidal soap is easy to use; it’s a 2% soap solution and works by dehydrating the insects. You’ll need tap water (If you have hard water you may notice a buildup on your veggies), mild soap Dawn or Castile soap, and a spray bottle. Mix 5 teaspoons of castile soap or 1 ½ teaspoon of Dawn to every one gallon of water. Be sure and shake well to mix, and spray directly on affected plants. Repeat the process as needed once every 3 to 5 day. Note: It is best to do this in the evening while the sun is setting or in the early morning so that your plants do not scorch in the sun. (Please Note: This stuff is harmful to bees when wet. Bees are often out in the morning. If you have bees please only spray in the evening.)

Essential Oils

Cedarwood and pine essential oils keep slugs and snails at bay.

Clove essential oil helps deter many flying insects.

Peppermint essential oil eliminates aphids, squash bugs, ants, spiders, beetles, and fleas.

Rosemary essential oil helps repel flies, fleas, mosquitoes and insect larvae like the cabbage caterpillar.

Thyme essential oil works against biting insects like chiggers, ticks and roaches.

For the best all-purpose essential oil insecticide, mix 10 drops of lemon essential oil, 10 drops of eucalyptus oil, 10 drops of cedarwood oil, and 2 tablespoons of vodka with 2 ounces of water. Add to a glass spray bottle and apply thoroughly, shaking before each use.

Peppers, Garlic & Onions

While these three are not insecticidal, they are a powerful repellent for insects and animals. For the most effective batch it is recommended to mix all three, but if you would like you may omit any part of the mixture. For your safety wear gloves and keep the final product away for children and pets.

You will need:
2 large purple onions
2 whole garlic bulbs (Not cloves the whole bulb)
2-6 whole peppers the hotter the better
2 tablespoons of cayenne pepper

Use a blender or food processor to grind the veggies to a pulp, add water if needed to blend. Next, place the pulp in a large container with a lid, pour 1 gallon of boiling water over the mixture and let it rest covered for 24-48 hours. Strain the pulp and reserve the water for use as your insect and animal repellent. Be sure to wear protective clothing when using this as the spray may cause skin irritation. Note: It is best to apply this in the evening while the sun is setting or in the early morning so that your plants do not scorch in the sun.


Cinnamon has a lot of powerful uses in the garden. It can be used as a natural rooting agent, a natural antifungal agent, a rapid healing agent for damaged plant, and a powerful ant and mosquito repellent. For the best results, shake a large amount of ground cinnamon into the soil in and around your garden. If you prefer you can make a cinnamon spray by bringing 4 cups of water to boil, add 6 whole cinnamon sticks, remove from heat and allow it to steep for 6 to 10 hours. Pour the strained mixture into a spray bottle and apply directly where needed. The spray can also be used as an ant barrier around your home.

Tobacco Spray

Tobacco spray was once a commonly used pesticide for killing spiders, caterpillars, and aphids. Mix one cup of organic or home grown tobacco into one gallon of water(It is important to be sure it is chemical free tobacco). Allow the mixture to set overnight. When the mix is ready it should have a light brown color. If your mix comes out darker than a mild cup of tea, add water to dilute it. This spray can be used on all plants, except those in the solanaceous family (tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, etc.)

Citrus Fruit Peels

Citrus fruit peels kill and repel ants, fleas, gnats, aphids, mosquitoes, flies, cockroaches, fruit flies, and mites. Insects hate limonene and linalool, the two natural pesticides found in citrus fruit peels. The limonene paralyzes insects and the dissolves the waxy protective coating on their exoskeletons and plugs up their respiratory system, while the linalool works to rapidly dehydrate the insects and plague there central nervous system. To use this powerful pesticide simply add the zest of lemon, orange, grapefruit, or lime to your garden soil or around your garden planters.

Natural Predators

One fun and educational way to rid your garden of pest is by purchasing some natural predators to troll the garden for you. You can easily purchase praying mantis, ladybugs, or parasitic wasp called Aphidius online or at your local garden store. These predators assist you by eating your unwanted garden guests but not your garden plants. Do your research to be sure you are getting a variety of insect that will thrive in your area and effectively treat you problem.

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth is made from the fossilized remains of tiny, aquatic organisms called diatoms. Their skeletons are made of a natural substance called silica. Over a long period of time, diatoms accumulated in the sediment of rivers, streams, lakes, and oceans. Today, silica deposits are mined from these areas. Diatomaceous earth causes insects to dry out and die by absorbing the oils and fats from the cuticle of the insect's exoskeleton. Its sharp edges are abrasive, speeding up the process. It remains effective as long as it is kept dry and undisturbed. To apply, simply dust the ground around your plants, or even sprinkle it on the foliage where it will help control snails and slugs as well as other crawling insects. Due to its dried nature, in order to be an effective natural pesticide, diatomaceous earth needs to be reapplied after every rain. For the best and safest results it is recommend you use food grade diatomaceous earth products in your garden and around your family.

Epsom Salt

Epsom salt is a great source of magnesium, which is an essential plant nutrient. By mixing 1 cup Epsom salt with 5 gallons of water you will create a pesticide for beetles, slugs, snails, and caterpillars. Mix the solution in a large bucket or other container and then apply the well-dissolved mixture to foliage with a pump sprayer. Many gardeners believe that the solution not only deters pests, but may kill on contact. It is very important to note it is easy to overuse Epsom salt, as applying more than the soil can use means that the excess often ends up as a soil and water pollutant.

Rubbing Alcohol Spray

Effective against mealybugs, whiteflies, aphids, and spider mites isopropyl alcohol is an easy to use pesticide. The isopropyl alcohol works to dehydrate and attack the respiratory system of the insect. Simply add 1/2 cup of 70% isopropyl alcohol to 1 quart of water. Mix the solution well and pour it in a spray bottle. Spray the solution directly on the affected plant. It is recommended that you perform a small spot test to be sure the solution isn't too strong for the plant; some plants will have a higher tolerance than others.

The information for this post was obtained through the National Pesticide Information Center. To find out more about the pesticides you use at home visit their website or call 1.800.858.7372 Monday –Friday 8:00AM to 12:00PM Pacific Time.

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