Whether you bring your garden indoors for the winter and need to reset a soil base or if you have critters getting to the fruit of your plants, it’s easy to ward them off and protect your plants using things you already have at home.
Here are a few safe and easy-to-use DIY pesticides for any of your apartment gardens.
1. Diatomaceous Earth
This fine powder is made out of the fossilized remains of aquatic organisms and consists of small, sharp edges. These edges help deter parasites and small insects, as they avoid walking across them to enter your garden. You can sprinkle this powder around your garden, either on the borders or near the affected plants. It doesn’t harm any of the beneficial microorganisms in soil, like worms or helpful bacteria, and also won’t make you or your family ill.
2. Neem Oil
Neem oil has been used by gardeners for centuries, and while it’s origins are simple – it is merely a vegetable oil made out of the fruits of the neem tree – this pesticide is a knock-out when it comes to organic solutions for your garden. It can be used on over two hundred different types of insects and is also effective against fungi and mildew. Use it on young plants whenever possible by combining a teaspoon of oil with a half teaspoon of soap and a quart of warm water.
3. Essential Oils
Essential oils are good for your health, as well as for the health of your garden. There are dozens of oils you can use in your garden to help keep pests at bay. For example, peppermint oil helps to keep ants and beetles away, while thyme essential oil sends chiggers, ticks and cockroaches packing. Other oils to try, each of which is effective against different types of pests, include rosemary, clove, cedarwood and pine. To use essential oils, simply mix a few drops with some water and a mild dish soap.
If mosquitoes are a particular concern in your garden, you might consider implementing one of these strategies to prevent them from becoming a problem in the first place. However, if an infestation proves to be unavoidable, try using citronella or clove oil to get rid of them quickly.
Garlic repels insects in the same way it helps repel a bad date! It is a natural antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal agent, and you likely already have some of the ingredients for this pesticide in your home. All you need to do is peel and crush about five cloves of garlic and put them into a jug of water. Add a dollop of dish soap and allow the mixture to infuse for a day or so. Once it’s ready, you can spray the mix on or around your plants. Be aware that this pesticide works best a while before harvest, as it can affect the flavor of your crops.
5. Epsom Salt
Epsom salt has many uses in the garden, including fortifying your soil and also acting as an organic pesticide. You can either spray or sprinkle a mixture of epsom salt and water on your garden. It will provide a punch of magnesium to the soil and also help the soil absorb other helpful nutrients, like nitrogen and sulfur. It also burns away slugs and beetles, making it highly effective against those types of pests.
6. Hot Peppers
Insects don’t like hot peppers, so mixing chili powder with water and some dish soap is an easy way to keep them out of your garden. This mix can be used on plants and won’t affect the growth of your plants. Just don’t use it immediately before harvest, as the hot and spicy flavors may linger. Be sure to also protect your face when spraying, as it can blow back in the breeze and burn your eyes.
While humans love the taste and smell of citrus, it is incredibly effective at keeping away pests, who tend to abhor it. Aphids and other sap-sucking insects can do a great deal of damage to plants, but combining a pint of water and the rind from a lemon can help eliminate these pests from your garden altogether.
Between the weather, soil quality and other growing conditions, you don’t have time to worry about pests stealing from your hard-earned harvest. Instead of endangering your family’s safety with dangerous chemical pesticides, whip up a batch of one of these effective DIY pesticides for your garden today.
Rebekah White is a writer from upstate New York. She specializes in curating content in her areas of expertise including outdoor living, gardening and agriculture, and education.