Homegrown solutions to pests in the garden

Published 10:29 pm Thursday, September 23, 2010

While you’re raiding your cabinets for ingredients to clean your house, it might be time to clear your garden of pesky insects that are trying to make your vegetable patch or flowerbeds their happy home.

If you’re worried about using chemicals on your greens, here are a few homemade concoctions that can work.

Just remember to wash before you eat.

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Tobacco or Nicotine Spray

This mixture can combat many different types of bugs, but especially caterpillars, aphids and many types of worms.


1 cup of tobacco

1 gallon of water


Put the tobacco into the container of water. Allow the mixture to set for approximately 24 hours. After it has stood for a day, check the color. It should be the shade of weak tea. If it is too dark, just dilute it with water until it looks right.

*Warning: Don’t use this solution on peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, or any other member of the solanaceous family. Tobacco chemicals can kill these types of plants!

Soap Spray

An effective way to stop slugs is with soapy water. You can just use your old, dirty dishwater. Collect some of the water in a pan and pour it into a watering can or use a pitcher to pour it over the plants. This works really well on hostas and mums, but also can be used on other hardy plants. Many bugs do not like their lunch spoiled by a soapy aftertaste, For a stronger solution, mix three tablespoons of liquid detergent into a gallon of water. Use this weekly.

Alcohol Spray

This spray really is great for houseplants and works well to keep meal bugs away.


1/2 cup of alcohol

2-3 tablespoons of dry laundry soap

1 quart of warm water


Mix all ingredients and spray immediately. You don’t have to let this set, but you can’t store it either. This solution must be made fresh for each use.

Salt Spray

This solution is used for cabbageworms and spider mites.

2 tablespoons of salt

1 gallon of water


Just mix and spray.

Garlic Spray

If you’re a Twilight fan, this won’t help you attract any vampires, but if you want to keep slugs away, this smelly concoction might be your ticket.


1 garlic bulb

1 quart of water

1 medium onion

1 tablespoon of cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon liquid dish soap


Crush and finely mince garlic. Add finely chopped onion to the mixture. Add other ingredients except dish soap. Let set for an hour. Add soap and use. This can be stored in the fridge for a week.

This garlic spray is great for getting rid of cutworms, wireworms, whiteflies, and slugs too.


1 pint of water

1/4 cup of dish liquid

2 teaspoons of paraffin

6 tablespoons of chopped garlic


Soak the whole garlic in the liquid paraffin for at least 24 hours. After a day, add the dish liquid and water to the mixture. Shake well. Strain the solution, and store it in a glass jar. This lasts around a week.

Dead Bug Spray

Another way to beat the bug problem is by taking some dead carcasses of the same insects and mixing them in water. Use one pint of water and 1/2 cup of slug carcasses. Blend the water and insects until mixed well and then put into a plastic container or glass jar. To use this, put into a sprayer and squirt a few drops on the affected plants. You can freeze this mixture for storage.

Caution: Do not use flies, ticks, fleas, or mosquitoes in this solution. These insects carry many communicable human diseases.