They say that if your garden doesn’t haves pest, it is not a part of an ecosystem, yet. Be it ants, bugs, snail, bees, butterflies or any other bug, their presence means that your garden is not just for show. In the case of apartment gardening, all or some of these crawlies are not welcome and spraying pesticides, herbal or otherwise, is not a good idea. This is where your kitchen comes to the rescue.
Using home remedies means that its available round the clock and easy to prepare, it’s also very good for the environment and a cost-effective practice. The main idea behind using kitchen remedies is to use available resources to keep the pests & disease in check without harming the beneficial insects.
The following are some great home remedies for pest control
• Oil spray
Annoying sap-sucking insects like aphids, thrips, spider mites, and whiteflies first damage your plant and eventually kill it. To combat these pesky pests, make your own homemade oil spray using 1 tablespoon of dish soap and 1 cup of unused cooking oil. Shake well and store it in a cool and dark place in a dark bottle. When using, dilute it with water in the ratio of 8 teaspoons or 35-40 ml in one litre of water. Mist your plants with this solution to coat the insects in an oil solution that stops them from breathing freely and controlling their spread.
• Soap spray insecticide
Very similar to the oil spray is a soap spray, which is highly effective in controlling mites, aphids, whiteflies, beetles, and other pests. To make the soap spray, mix 1 1/2 teaspoons of a mild liquid soap with one litre of water, and spray the infected plants generously. Use as required but spray it before or after peak un, spraying in full sun is not beneficial.
• Eucalyptus oil
A great pesticide that drives away pests insect with its strong smell and antimicrobial properties. Simply spray some diluted oil on the infested plants. The dilution depends on the potency of the oil, generally a few ml in a litre of water works well.
• Onion and garlic spray
Take about one to two cloves of garlic and one medium sized onion and mince or grind them together. Add some water and let it saturate for one hour and then add one teaspoon of red chilli and one tablespoon of liquid soap to the mix. Strain it and spray it on your plants to keep the pests away. This mix can be stored in the fridge for up to a week but it better used fresh.
• Chrysanthemum flower tea
The chrysanthemum flowers are not only pretty to look at, but they also have a strong plant chemical component called pyrethrum that is an excellent insecticide. Pyrethrum affects the nervous system of the pests and paralyzes flying insects on contact rendering them immobile.
To make chrysanthemum flower tea spray take a 100 grams of dried chrysanthemum flowers and simmer it in 1 litre of water for twenty minutes. Cool the mix and strain and pour into a spray bottle for use. Spray it on the infested plants as and when required, it can be stored for up to two months in a cool dark place. You can also add a few drops of neem oil to improve the effectiveness.
• Tomato leaf spray
Tomato plants are part of the nightshade family, and contain alkaloids named "tomatine," which are effective against aphids and other pests. To make tomato leaf spray, chop, or grind 2 cups of fresh tomato leaves and mix it into 1000 ml of water and let steep overnight. Strain out the plant material and spray on the infested plants. It is extremely effective when made fresh and used weekly.
• Garlic oil spray
One of the safest and easiest to use insect repellent. Mince 5-6 clove of garlic and let it steep overnight in 3 teaspoons of oil overnight. Strain the oil to remove the garlic pieces and dilute it with 500 ml of water and further add a teaspoon of dish wash liquid and shake well. Store in a bottle or jar, dilute it further before using by adding 30-40 ml of this mix in half a litre of water and spray it on your plants. This spray works for whiteflies, aphids, and most beetles. Avoid application on sunny days to avoid foliage burn.
• Diatomaceous earth
Made of sedimentary rocks that are essentially fossilised algae (diatoms), it is one of the most readily available natural insecticides. Amongst its many other use, one is that of a natural insecticide, it works by absorbing the protective waxy coating secreted by insects for protection and then dehydrates them to death. To apply, simply dust the topsoil with it or sprinkle it on the foliage, where it will help control snails and slugs and other crawling insects.
• Coffee grounds
Coffee ground are fatal for ants and other such insects. Caffeine & diterpenes compounds in coffee are highly toxic to insects & helps control bugs, mosquitoes, fruit flies & beetles. Sprinkle used coffee grounds on the topsoil or in areas where you can see ants emerging from and watch them disappear.
• Banana peels
To get rid of aphids in your garden, place chopped up banana peel under the topsoil around the stems of your plants. This prevents the pesky insects and also adds nutrients to the soil. Insects hate light and hence they hide under the leaves.
As a trick, to chase aphids from the underside of leaves, place aluminium foil (polished side up) around the base of your plant covering the topsoil. The sunlight will reflect off of the foil and onto the underside of the leaves, thus driving the critters away.
Not only great for the compost heap, but eggshells also act as fertilizer and pest repellent when added to the bottom of planters before planting. Before sowing vegetable seeds, crush a couple of eggshells, not too finely, and add them to the bottom of the hole. The sharp edges will deter cutworms, and crushed shells around the stem of plants will deter slugs and snails.
• Wood ash
Wood ash has multiple uses and not only is it is a free fertilizer, but it’s also an excellent way to get rid of snails & slugs. A ring of wood ash around infested or vulnerable plants helps control them. Crawling on the ash makes slugs and snails lose fluid and slime, so they find it difficult to creep along, hence deterring their movement.
• Epsom salt pesticide
Epsom salts can be either be sprinkled around plants or dissolved in water to make a spray. To make a spray, dissolve 30-40 grams of salt in 1 litre of water and spray it on infested plants. It can also be sprinkled on the topsoil, it will deter pests and add magnesium to the soil, which increases the absorption of nutrients by the plants. It is especially effective against slugs and beetles.
• Baking soda spray for powdery mildew
Baking soda on plants causes no apparent harm and help prevent fungal growth. A tried and tested method for preventing powdery mildew on fruits & vegetables. It needs to be applied weekly.
To use, combine one tablespoon of baking soda, one tablespoon of vegetable oil, one tablespoon of dish soap in 1 litre of water and spray it on the foliage of susceptible plants. Baking soda prevents fungal spore from blooming, while the oil and soap help the mix stick to the plant.