We tend to spend more time outside in the springtime, and many of us will start a garden, or spruce up what has lain under the snow. Unfortunately, there are all kinds of pests waiting to devour your hard work. Check out our post on their identification and habits and read on for some prevention tips.
Spider mites hate soapy water, neem oil, and pepper spray—not the kind of pepper spray used for self-defense, but hot peppers boiled in water and drained. You can also mix a little dish soap in water and spray your plants with it. The soap film will coat the insects and dehydrate them.
Flying insects in general don't like pyrethrum spray, which is made from dried chrysanthemums. Or, you can plant chrysanthemums and/or marigolds, an attractive and robust addition to your garden that bloom well into autumn. They also help mask the scent of other plants and vegetables from animals who would like to eat them.
Aphids hate a lot of the same things spider mites do, like soapy water, hot pepper water, and neem oil. In general, if your garden is afflicted by small insects with soft bodies in general, these are good choices for DIY pest control.
Snails and Slugs
Snails and slugs will drown themselves in dishes of beer. Take a shallow bowl and nest it in the dirt a little so that snails and slugs can crawl right in. You don’t need a lot of beer, maybe a couple inches worth. We recommend a malty beer with a high sugar content. If beer won’t do, try fruit juice, especially orange or grape.
Herbal sprays are a good general choice for DIY pest prevention and control. These can be essential oils mixed with water or herbs boiled in water. Herbs pests dislike include basil, mint, sage, rue, and lavender. If you don’t have any herbs or essential oils, mix one part isopropyl alcohol with four parts water and spray.
One of the best things about these products is that, if mixed and used properly, they are non-toxic to plants you have in your house, plants you might eat, or plants that your pets and kids will play with. As always, you should thoroughly wash any produce before eating it, and we highly recommend checking with your local garden center for safety information regarding plants.