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My garden is full of beneficial insects, a diverse mix of wildlife and plants and lovely fertile soil rich with microbes and as a result, I rarely have an issue with pests as nature just seems to work itself out and get the balance right. I guess it’s a sign that my garden is functioning well.

There’s loads of products on the market designed to kill pests. I’ve found being proactive instead of reactive is better when it comes to managing pests. I do daily plant checks, really focussing on certain plants or areas. As a result, I feel I know what’s going on in my garden and therefore can stop potential issues before they become a problem. Many gardeners remove pests by hand but if you want to use insecticides and pest repellants, you might be interested in making your own at home. By making them yourself, you know what they’re made of and you can save money too.

This post isn’t about encouraging you to kill pests. It’s just about offering options.

Gardeners who makes their own insecticides and pest repellants seem to have their own mixes that work best for them. The ones I’ve listed below can be used as a general guide and they provide a good starting point for those who haven’t made their own products before. Some people haven’t found them effective, whilst others swear by them. These are all ones I’ve tried and thought had merit.

Vegetable Oil Spray.

Helps control aphids, thrip, mites and whiteflies.

Mix one cup of vegetable oil with one tablespoon of liquid Castile soap. Give it a shake. When you’re ready, add a couple of tablespoons of the mix to one litre of water and spray on the pests. The oil covers the insects and essentially suffocates them.

Soap Spray.

Helps control soft scale, thrip, whiteflies, aphids and mealy bugs.

Add two teaspoons of pure grated Castile soap to one litre of warm water. Shake it up. Let it cool. Pop it in a sprayer and off you go. Spray the leaves where the insects appear (both sides).

Garlic Spray.

Helps control aphids, grasshoppers, slugs, whiteflies and caterpillars.

Crush about ten cloves of garlic and pop them in one litre of warm water. Leave the mix overnight. Strain the liquid, pop it in a sprayer and use it within a few days.

This can also act as a fairly good fungicide.

Pyrethrin Spray.

Helps control scale, mealybugs, aphids, thrip and whiteflies.

Pyrethrins are derived from the flowers of the Pyrethrum Daisy (Tanacetum cinerariifolium).

Using a food processor, grind the dried flower heads into a powder. For every cup of dried flowers, add eight cups of water. Add a few drops of liquid Castile soap into the mix to help it stick.

Add the mixture to a spray bottle and spray the affected area (both sides of the leaves).

Beer Trap.

Helps control slugs and snails.

Use an old jar (or similar), partially dig it into the soil and pour some beer into it. Cover it to protect the beer from being diluted by rain or reticulation whilst still allowing the slugs and snails access. They’ll be attracted to the beer and drown.

Vinegar works too instead of beer.

Vinegar Spray.

Helps with snails, slugs, ants and flies.

I use cider vinegar. One part vinegar to three parts water. Make a solution and pop it in a spray bottle.

You can also make a concentrated spray (three parts vinegar to one part water) to kill weeds.

Chilli Spray.

Helps with aphids and spider mites.

Whether you’re using fresh chillies or dried chillies, this mix can be helpful in deterring insects.

If you’re using chilli powder, add one tablespoon of powder to one litre of water along with a few drops of liquid Castile soap. Spray on the leaves.

If you’re using fresh chillies, puree half a cup of chillies and add them to a saucepan containing one litre of water. Bring to the boil, then let it cool. Strain, add a few drops of liquid Castile soap and you’re good to go.

Neem Oil Spray.

Helps with mites, mealybugs, aphids, caterpillars, thrip, whiteflies, psyllid and scale.

Neem oil is extracted from the seeds of the neem tree. It is a strong natural insecticide that can disrupt the life cycle of insects at all stages.

Mix two teaspoons of neem oil with one teaspoon of liquid Castile soap. Add to one litre of water and use as a spray on the affected foliage.

Neem can also be used as a fungicide to treat rust, black spot, powdery mildew and some other common plant diseases.

Garlic, Onion and Chilli Spray.

Helps with aphids, grasshoppers, slugs, whiteflies and caterpillars.

Add one litre of water, one bulb of garlic and one onion to a food processor. Puree. Add a tablespoon of chilli powder and let it steep for an hour. Strain the mix and add a few drops of liquid Castile soap. Spray on the affected foliage.

Here’s some tips when applying your own home made insecticides and pest repellants (in no particular order).

When using a home made creation for the first time, test it first on a small area of the plant, instead of just spraying the entire plant. Try a few leaves, wait a day or so and see if there’s any damage. If the leaves are burnt, dilute your spray and try another test.

Don’t apply to stressed plants (burnt leaves, limp leaves etc.). Ensure the plants are well watered.

Just to play it safe, keep pets away from the plants until the spray mix has dried.

To help reduce the risk of leaf burn, apply your spray in the early morning (before the full sun hits the leaves) or in the evening when the heat from the sun has diminished.

Spray both sides of the leaves, not just the side you can see.

I hope you’ve found these recipes helpful. Remember, a healthy ecosystem requires insects. Creating habitats and diversity for insects and wildlife, building soil fertility and encouraging strong healthy plants is all part of a natural, effective pest management approach.