What’s Wrong with My Herbs: Natural Pesticides for Gardens

Skip the harsh chemicals and retain nature’s balance in your garden with herbal pesticides.

| June/July 2008

  • Revel in your summer garden, and rejoice in the knowledge that you beat the bugs without harsh chemicals.
  • You don't have to resort to harsh chemicals to keep pests out of your garden. You can make your own insecticidal spray, like this one that uses garlic and chile.
    Melisa Beveridge

Q. Garden pests are eating my plants, but I don’t want to use harsh chemical pesticides. Are there natural pesticides for gardens I can make at home?

A. Yes, you can stop insect invaders without turning to dangerous pesticides. We rely on several common-sense strategies and time-tested herbal pesticides that almost always do the trick.

Homemade Insect Spray Recipes

Herb and Soap Ant-Repellent Spray
Garlic and Chile Insecticidal Soap Spray 

Garden Pest Control: Keep Your Eyes Open

The strategies for staying ahead of garden pests are fairly simple. First and foremost, be aware of the life in your garden. Look for insects and mites and observe their activity daily, or as often as possible. Scout for common pests, such as aphids, cabbage worms and Japanese beetles, but keep in mind that some insects, such as ladybugs, lacewings and praying mantises, are beneficial predators that can help control pests. (For more about beneficial bugs, read Attract Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden.) If you have trouble identifying what you’re seeing, contact your County Extension agent, who can help.

Damaged leaves are a good indication that a plant is infested with some insect pest. If you look a bit closer, you’ll probably see eggs, larvae and/or adult insects. Check the bottom of leaves, where pests (especially spider mites) often congregate. Also examine stem junctions, where mealybugs hide their egg masses. Aphids are especially fond of the tender tips of plants, and ants even will carry them there to keep the population growing!

Spraying Pesticides Simplified

Now that you’ve determined that a pest has taken up residence among your plants, you can take actions to stop it. Begin with the least toxic, least expensive and most convenient method first: a strong spray of water.

4/23/2014 4:17:11 AM

Great article! Companion planting is another solution. Last summer I discovered that planting basil near roses deters aphids and whiteflies, and without the pests, my roses were also free of fungal spots.

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