Homemade remedies are inexpensive and, best of all, you know what is going into your garden. Many homemade sprays have been used with good results to control harmful insects. |
Soft-bodied insects (mites, aphids, mealybugs): Mix one tablespoon canola oil and a few drops of Ivory soap into a quart of water. Shake well and pour into a spray bottle. Spray plant from above down, and from below up to get the underside of the leaves. The oil smothers the insects.
Grubs: For lawn or garden grubs, there is a natural remedy called milky spore. The granules are spread on the soil and cause the grubs to contract a disease that kills them. This natural control affects only the grubs, leaving the beneficial organisms unharmed. Milky spore multiplies over time and will sit inactive, waiting for grubs to infect. One treatment is said to last 40 years. The grubs are actually the larvae of Japanese beetles. So, when you kill the grubs you kill the beetle.
Mites and other insects: Mix two tablespoons of hot pepper sauce or cayenne pepper with a few drops of Ivory soap into a quart of water. Let stand overnight, then stir and pour into a spray bottle and apply as above. Shake container frequently during application.
Earwigs, slugs, and other soft-bodied garden pests: Sprinkle diatomaceous earth over plants and around edges of garden beds. The diatoms particles are very small and sharp – but only harmful to the small exoskeletons of insects, slugs and snails. Insects cannot become immune to its action, as it is a mechanical killer – not a chemical one.
Fungal diseases: Mix two tablespoons of baking soda into a quart of water. Pour into a spray container and spray affected areas. Repeat this process every few days until problem ceases.
Powdery mildew: Mix equal parts milk and water and spray on infected plants. Three treatments a week apart should control the disease.
Insects and fungal diseases: Combine one tablespoon of cooking oil, two tablespoons of baking soda and a few drops of Ivory soap into a quart of water. Pour into a spray container and apply as above.
Insects on fruit trees: Lime sulfur and dormant oil, available at nurseries and garden centers, can be sprayed on the trunk and branches of dormant fruit trees. This concoction will suffocate insect egg cases. Because the oily spray is heavy compared to the other water-based sprays, you'll need a pump sprayer. These are fairly inexpensive, and are available to rent from some nurseries. Only use this method while the tree is dormant, however, or it can kill the tree.
Commercial dormant oils may contain petroleum oil or kerosene. A less toxic method is to make your own. Mix 1 cup vegetable oil and 2 tbsp liquid soap in one gallon (4 liters) water. Mix the soap and oil first, then add the water. Shake often during use.
Caution: Sprays which kill harmful insects will also kill beneficial insects. Use these homemade remedies selectively, only spraying the infected plants. Apply them early in the morning or just before dark. Re-apply after a rain. Wear protective clothing when spraying insecticides.
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