5 Natural Ways to Keep Critters Out of the Garden

Try these natural and DIY methods.

A bounty of vegetables

(Tatevosian Yana / Shutterstock.com)

Your garden is growing and soon you will be harvesting your bounty of healthy fruits and veggies. Like many people, you may want your produce to be organic without using chemical fertilizers, weed killers or insecticides.

 Even if you are not strictly organic, while synthetic pesticides will keep your garden from becoming a bug banquet, they come at a cost, according to TreeHugger. Applying commercial insecticides can harm the environment and kill off helpful insects like pollinators.

Before you choose a pesticide, check to see which insects are munching on your lettuce or tomatoes and choose a safe and effective method that works for you. Here are five easy to prepare and use natural pesticides to consider. 

Chili pepper spray
You can make your own chili pepper spray from either fresh chili peppers if you grow your own or from powder; which is easier to use. Just mix one tablespoon of chili powder with one quart (.94 liter) of water and a few drops of liquid soap. Chili pepper spray can eliminate several types of pests including spider mites, but not all. Make sure that you wear gloves  and a mask when using chili pepper spray because it is very potent.

Diatomaceous earth
You can purchase diatomaceous earth in most garden supply stores. Made from fossilized algae that is ground into a fine powder, this method doesn’t poison insects, according to mindbodygreen, but actually dries them out by removing oils from their exoskeletons. If you are not an insect, it is nontoxic. Diatomaceous earth works best on mites, ants, cockroaches and anything with an exoskeleton.

Neem oil
This natural bug killer comes from the seeds of the neem tree. It works because azadirachtin, the active ingredient in neem oil, is toxic to soft-bodied bugs like aphids, mealybugs and mites. When consumed by pests, neem oil disrupts the bug’s hormones so that they do not lay new eggs and it suppresses appetites so that the bugs no longer eat. Neem oil can also be used on indoor plants.

 You can make your own Neem Oil spray by mixing two teaspoons of neem oil with two-thirds of a teaspoon of liquid soap into one quart (.94 liter) of water. You can even use it as a preventive measure. 

Castile soap
Another effective safe way of dealing with garden pests and insects is to make your own Castile soap insecticide spray. This recipe from Plant Care Today is easy and inexpensive to make. It works because Castile soap is made from oils that disrupt the cells of soft-bodied insects. You can use the castile soap spray to rid your garden of aphids, whiteflies, arachnids, mealybugs, and fungus gnats without harming beneficial insects, butterflies, and birds.

Garlic spray
Garlic’s pungent odor can also serve as an insect repellent according to Birds & Blooms. Its easy to make and you probably already have all the ingredients at home. All you need is four cloves of minced garlic, one tablespoon of mineral oil, and one teaspoon of dish soap. Strain out the garlic before use and just add two tablespoons of your garlic mixture per pint of water in a spray bottle. Be careful using garlic spray because it can also kill beneficial bugs and could harm plant leaves.

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