Maintenance Outdoor Gardening

Natural Pest Control Remedies

Pest control are an ongoing issue that every gardener faces. There are many pest control products available on the market. However, if you are into organic vegetable gardening, have young children or pets, then you may be rightfully concerned about using commercially prepared pesticides. Besides companion planting, natural pest control remedies may just be the strategy for you.

Here are our top 10 tips natural pest control methods for your garden:

1. Introduce insect predators

If you have an aphid problem, a natural pest control method is to introduce aphid predators. This includes ladybirds, green and brown lacewings.

2. Soap spray insecticide

Soap sprays are a great defence against aphids, mites and thrips. Dilute a tablespoon of liquid soap (ensure it is additive-free) in a litre of water, then spray onto the affected leaves using a spray bottle. Be sure not to NOT spray it on a hot sunny day. Evenings and early mornings are better times to use a soap spray insecticide.

3. Oil spray insecticide

Oil sprays work by coating the bodies of the insects with oil. This suffocates them, as oil will block the pores through which they breathe.

Mix 250 ml of vegetable oil with 1 tablespoon of soap, shake it thoroughly, and then when ready to apply, add 2 teaspoons of the oil spray mix with 1 litre of water. Again shake thoroughly, then spray directly on the surfaces of affected plants. As with the soap spray, do not spray during the hotter part of the day.

4. Tomato leaf insecticide

If you do not like the idea of using soap and oil in your garden, the tomato leaf insecticide may be an alternative. Tomato plants are part of the nightshade family, so they contain alkaloids which can effectively control aphids and other insects. If you have tomato plants in your garden, chop 2 cups of fresh tomato leaves into 1 litre of water. Let it sit overnight. Then strain out the plant material and spray onto affected plants.

5. Chilli pepper insecticide

Ever bitten into a fresh chilli peppers and regretted it? Well, that’s your solution for insects as well! Blend or puree fresh chilli pepper with water in the proportion of 1:2. Then dilute it with 4 times the amount of water and boil it. Once the mixture has been cooled, strain out the chilli pepper material and pour it into a spray bottle. Be careful to keep it away from your own eyes, nose and mouth for obvious reasons!

6. Neem oil insecticide

Neem oil is bio-degradable and non-toxic to pets and wildlife. It is a hormone disruptor, capable of disrupting the life cycle of insects at all stages (adult, larvae, and egg), making it a great resource for the organic gardener. It also doubles up as a natural fungicide and can be used for powdery mildew and other fungal infections on plants. Mix 2 teaspoons of neem oil, 1 teaspoon of mild liquid soap and shake them thoroughly with 1 litre of water. Then spray it on affected plants or even as a preventative measure on healthy plants.

7. Garlic insecticide

Due to its pungent aroma, garlic can act as an insect repellent. Take 2 whole bulbs of garlic (not just cloves!), puree them with a small amount of water. Let the mixture sit overnight, then strain it into a jar, then add it to an oil spray insecticide (see no. 3 above). Spray liberally all over the garden. It might even keep Count Dracula away! (Just kidding!)

8. Diatomaceous earth

If sprays are not your preferred method, then diatomaceous earth may suit. Diatomaceous earth is a powder containing about 80%-90% silica made from the sediment of fossilised algae found in bodies of water. It is thought to kill insects by dehydrating them or drying them out. All you need to do is simply dust the ground around your plants, or even sprinkle it on the foliage, where it will help control snails and slugs as well as other crawling insects. Remember to re-apply it after watering your garden or a rainy day, but after the ground and foliage are dry.

9. Pest control traps

Pheromone-based pest control traps work well for stink bugs and other pest insects including moths. These are a small glue traps that are come with a small vial of sex pheromone that will be placed on the trap. Sex pheromones are hormones scents that are usually emitted by the female insect and picked up by the male as a cue for mating. Male pests are drawn to the trap for the purpose of mating and are then caught. This is not always preferred by gardeners as it is a slow-death for the trapped insects who are stuck onto the glue.   

10. Physical barriers

Physical barriers, such as bird netting, tulle fabric and chicken wire netting, are useful for keeping out rabbits, caterpillars and birds away from your vegetables or fruit crops.