Our home garden is one of the places where I can easily find peace. I usually spend my weekend mornings in it alone or with my parents. It has such a calming atmosphere that gives me the rest I need during the weekend—that is, until I see some pests on our plants! I remember that time when I was growing pechay; I came to our garden one morning, and saw some of the pechay plants got all these bite marks. It sort of irritated me because it was almost harvest time. I thought, “What am I going to put into the soup?”
I went to the garden again the next day and finally saw the culprit—it was a grasshopper.
When it comes to keeping our plants healthy, my family chooses to use safer and natural solutions. We use compost, rice water, egg shells, and other organic matter as fertilizer.
As for pest control, we NEVER use conventional pesticides. Using those would mean we are putting poisonous chemicals on the food we will eat. In turn, we will also destroy the soil and our local garden ecosystem.
Moreover, we can kill off beneficial insects like bees and butterflies when we use harsh pesticides! We could even harm birds that visit our gardens.
We can always use better alternatives that are cheap, eco-friendly, and easy to make.
Here are easy homemade pest control recipes that I use for our home garden:
1. Oil + Soap Spray
This one’s great for aphids, caterpillars, and mites. Just mix five drops of mild dishwashing liquid or Liquid Castile Soap in one Liter of water. Add a tablespoon (15mL) of cooking oil and shake the mixture. Transfer to a spray bottle and spray plants to the point of drenching. Do this once a week.
How it works: Both oil and soap help the mixture cling to the leaves. The oil encloses and smothers soft-body insects.
2. Chili Pepper Spray
Chili pepper spray can be used for different insects such as aphids and grasshoppers. Just add 2 teaspoons of chili powder to 1 Liter of water. You can also use mashed mature chili peppers instead of chili powder. Add two to four drops of mild dishwashing liquid or Liquid Castile Soap to help the spray cling to the plants and the insects.
How it works: Capsaicin repels insects like mites and whiteflies. It can also irritate the insects as much as it can irritate us! Likewise, it can make your plants less appetizing to birds and other animal pests.
Note: Be careful when preparing and using this spray. As we know, chili peppers can irritate the skin, eyes, and lungs because of their capsaicin content. Please wear gloves, and avoid inhaling the chili powder or the spray. Take extra precaution on a windy day.
Also, some plants can be irritated or burned by chili pepper sprays. Test it on your plants by spraying one or two leaves. Leave the spray on the test leaves for several days for observation. If the sprayed leaves are wilted, yellow, or look burned, do not spray the plant with chili spray. You can still spray it on the soil around sensitive plants.
3. Citrus Spray
I super love this recipe, because it’s zero-waste. Plus, it’s effective in killing aphids and other soft-bodied insects. For this spray, you can use the rinds of lemons or oranges instead of just throwing them away.
Boil 500mL of water. After boiling, remove it from the heat, and add the rinds. Allow the mixture to steep overnight. Strain through cheesecloth, a clean old cloth, or a strainer. Transfer into a spray bottle. Spray this on the tops and bottoms of the leaves on afflicted plants. Also, spray this directly on the bugs for the best results.
How it works: Plant essential oils that can be found in the rinds of citrus plants have a range of effects on insects. They may act as fumigants, contact insecticides, repellents, and antifeedants.
Don’t forget, you can modify these recipes based on what suits your needs. Also, keeping our plants healthy doesn’t mean we should kill all of the insects in our garden. Our gardens should not be sterile places; they should be places teeming with life where healthy ecosystems are present.
Without the presence of beneficial bacteria, fungi, and insects, our garden won’t be my place of peace and inspiration.
It’ll just be some piece of land.