Pests in your garden are an inconvenient situation to deal with. Getting rid of them without destroying your garden can be even more frustrating. There are many different products you can use, but not all of them are safe for you, your family, or the environment. Synthetic pesticides can include toxic chemicals that end up in our fruits and vegetables. Finding a non-toxic brand that you like would be key, but eco-friendly pesticides are also pretty easy to make at home.
Mix your own pesticides
Most of the ingredients used in homemade solutions include, cayenne pepper, biodegradable dish soap, essential oils, and or garlic. All natural, all biodegradable, and will not harm you or your plants during the process. The best part is, you probably have most of these ingredients in your home right now.
Depending on where you live, you will be exposed to different insects. In the midwest, cities like Memphis are accustomed to dealing with a high population of mosquitoes. Even though mosquitoes are more harmful to humans than plants, there are still precautions you can take in order to protect your backyard from an overwhelming infestation. Simple eco-friendly things to do to help with them can include mosquito repelling plants and essential lawn care.
Now, mosquitoes may not be your main concern, but they can be an additional nuisance when it comes to harvesting fruits a vegetables in your backyard. Here is a varietal list of eco-friendly pesticides (mostly sprays) you can make at home, surely one of them will be able to help your pest needs!
- Egg shells
Egg shells, also considered diatomaceous earth, can be used for many backyard remedies and projects. The eggshells can act as a fertilizer. Due to its earthly origin, the hard-shell remnants keep away insects from the tiny sharp pieces being harmful to them. All you need to do is finely blend the egg shells, using a food processor. Dust the powder around the root of the plant, damaged leaves, and around any vegetables. Use as needed.
The eggshell fertilizer technique is known to keep away slugs and japanese beetles in particular. Which can certainly help when preparing and maintaining your garden. As there are multiple uses for eggshells, you can also use the crushed pieces in your compost.
- Oil + Soap Spray
This is a very simple one to make, all you need is vegetable oil and a biodegradable mild soap. Get a sprayable bottle or reuse an old cleaning bottle if you’re feeling extra green (suggest rinsing with the mild soap prior). Mix the combination in a separate container than the one you’ll be using to spray. One cup of vegetable oil combined with one tablespoon of soap, shake well immediately before use. Take your standard sized cleaning spray bottle (32 ounces) and mix one tablespoon of the oil mix and the rest of the bottle with water. Shake well and use as needed.
- Garlic + Mint Spray
As intense as it sounds, mixing a Garlic Mint Garden Insect Spray has its potent scents and flavors fighting insects off your vegetable and herbs plants. Start with putting garlic and mint into a food processor. Take blended mix and transfer into a pot of boiling water with a tablespoon of cayenne pepper. Let mixture settle over night. Fill standard size cleaning spray bottle with the settled mixture and one tablespoon of biodegradable mild soap. Shake well and use as needed.
Who would have thought? Mixing both a vegetable and an herb to help each other out!
- Chilli Pepper Spray
Be careful when starting to concoct this recipe. Chili pepper spray made from, you guessed it, red chili peppers, works its wonders through its heat packed seeds. You can make this two ways, from chili powder or by making a puree out of red chili peppers. From this, simply mix one tablespoon of either in a standard size cleaning spray bottle with water and a tablespoon of biodegradable mild soap. Shake well and use as needed.
- Neem Oil Spray
An oil extracted from the neem evergreen tree, creating a spray out of this oil is both organic, non-toxic, and biodegradable. Neem oil also has medicinal and cosmetic benefits and is used preventatively for multiple things. The neem oil extract disrupts the life cycles of insects, but remains harmless to pets and wild animals. With one tablespoon of the neem oil, mix one tablespoon of either in a standard size cleaning spray bottle with water and a tablespoon of biodegradable mild soap. Use as needed.
- Coffee Grounds
Not only do coffee grounds have exfoliating skin benefits, they can also be recycled to keep all sorts of insects away from your plants. Caffeine drives most of us on a daily basis but caffeine is believed to have a negative impact on insects. Makes it easy for you to recycle grounds if you frequent the caffeinated beverage. It is also as simple as it sounds. There’s no mixing of ingredients, all you need to do is take the wet coffee grounds and pat around the base of your vegetables and flowers as if it was soil. Use as needed.
Depending on what you may have at home and what you are in need for as far pesticide protection or prevention, figuring out what eco-friendly option is right is up to you!
Katie Kuchta is a gardening guru and amateur foodie. She can often be found with a taco in one hand and a margarita in the other, follow her on instagram @atxtacoqueen.