Good news! The destructive insects and bugs in your garden will soon be a thing of the past. Even better, you won’t need to reach for a bottle of toxic chemicals to rid your garden of these pests.
The toxic ingredients in most bug sprays are not only bad for you and your companion animals, but terrible for the environment. If you can’t imagine eating a big plate of pesticide, then spraying conventional insect repellents on your fruit trees and veggie gardens is definitely not an option for you.
Fortunately there are a lot of organic choices for you and your garden. One option is to head to your local garden center and stock up on one of the organic pest control products. Another option is to make your own inexpensive, simple, organic pest control solutions. Here are a few techniques that my family and I have used with much success over the years – some bought, some homemade. Keep in mind that this list only includes the bugs that we most frequently encounter in our own veggie patch.
* SNAILS & SLUGS:
Use a tried and true technique – reach for the beer. Shallow dishes of beer all around your garden will act as lures, trapping invading slugs and snails, and keeping them from munching your leaves.
No beer in the refrigerator? Try this mixture:
2 cups water
1 tablespoon cornmeal
2 tablespoons molasses
2 teaspoons yeast
1 tablespoon flour
Would you rather drive the snails and slugs away completely? Try circling the bases of your plants with copper shavings (the copper gives a little zap to snails and slugs), diatomaceous earth (DE) , crushed seashells, wood ashes, or crushed eggshells. My grandparents swore by using a mixture of copper shavings and crushed eggshells.
All of these techniques have worked wonderfully in my garden, and my leaves have been free of snail munching for years.
Spice up your pest control technique with red hot pepper or cinnamon. Red hot pepper flakes or cinnamon on ant paths and nesting areas is a surefire way to eliminate the little marauders.
A mixture of borax and sugar also works to eradicate ant problems. Place small hills of the deadly sweet mixture near ant paths, and in about a week your ant problems will be history. Since this technique takes a bit of time to work (the ants are actually taking the mixture back to their colony as food, so it is killing from the inside out), it is best used when ant problems are just beginning.
Last, but not least – try mint and coffee. My grandparents always had mint planted around their garden perimeter (they said that it kept ants out of the garden), and would diligently save their used coffee grounds for use when they noticed ant problems. To use the java technique, sprinkle the used grounds around the base of plants, or mix the grounds with hot water, and pour the steaming mixture into the ant hills. Bonus: the garden smells like a minty coffeehouse when you use this technique!
With cutworms, it is all about protecting tender plant stems. Circle the bases of your plants with crushed eggshells, used coffee grounds, or DE to keep cutworms from making their way up stems. Notice a pattern? If you mix the coffee grounds with either the DE or the crushed eggshells, you will also be protecting plants from slugs, snails, and ants – now that is garden multitasking!
Stiff paper collars also work wonders for protecting tender stems from climbing cutworms.
The best way to get rid of aphids is also one of the most beautiful – ladybugs! Yes, I know, ladybugs are not something you can make yourself, but they are an inexpensive, organic choice for garden pest control.
Importing hungry ladybugs to your garden will take care of aphid problems fast. You can buy a fairly large container of ladybugs from your local garden or hardware store, or you can put in a few plants that will lure ladybugs to your garden. Dill and fennel are both effective ladybug attractants that also look good in an herb or vegetable garden.
Insecticidal soap also takes care of an aphid infestation. To make your own, simply combine castile soap with water, and spray it on plants. Rinse leaves after about an hour to prevent leaf damage.
Petroleum jelly around plant stems acts like a barrier to earwigs. They won’t cross the petroleum jelly, and your plants will be free of earwigs.
These destructive pests can be gotten rid of with neem oil. Simply spray neem oil on the plants to keep grasshoppers from munching your leaves.
No neem oil handy? Garlic oil works in much the same way as neem oil, repelling grasshoppers from your delicate plant leaves.
Yet another organic grasshopper repellent for your garden is hot pepper. Mix hot pepper and water together, and spray on plants to keep the grasshoppers out of your garden.
It is easy and inexpensive to make, too – Blend a 1/2 cup of hot peppers with 2 cups of water.
Add the hot pepper juice to a gallon of water, drop in a few squirts of dish soap, and spray on plants.
I use this every year, and it has always worked great. Just make sure not to over-saturate plants, and rinse leaves on occasion to prevent leaf burn. You should also do a test patch to make sure that the pepper will not burn plant leaves.
A mixture of molasses and water also works wonders in the garden, suffocating grasshoppers by clogging the pores of their exoskeletons. To use this technique, simply spray the mixture directly on grasshoppers.
You can also use DE to kill the occasional grasshopper that slips through your garden barrier. To use this technique, carefully dust leaves with DE (wear a mask so that you do not inhale the dust). The sharp edges of DE cut the exoskeleton of the grasshopper, dehydrating it – in other words, DE is effectively lethal to grasshoppers
Looking for a store bought grasshopper killer? According to Golden Harvest Organics, little, one-celled parasites called nosema locustae are extremely effective at killing grasshoppers. This parasite is ingested by the grasshopper, killing it from the inside out. I know – gross, but war isn’t pretty, especially when it comes to your garden.
Another benefit of employing nosema locustae in your garden is that one application will last years.
Another natural way to keep grasshoppers out of the garden is to plant calendula, peas, cilantro, horehound, or garlic. Bonus: these grasshopper repelling plants are also enjoyable additions to your garden!
* JAPANESE BEETLES:
These pests are best removed manually, either by handpicking or shaking them out of plants during the early morning hours. Make sure to dispose of these pests so that they don’t make their way back to your plants.
Good luck, and happy gardening!
Golden Harvest Organics. (2006). Grasshopper Control. “Grasshoppers.” . July 10, 2010.