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Naiad Blog

Filtering by Tag: natural garden pests control

My Garden Medicine Cabinet

Erin Pikor

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In San Diego we are blessed with a year round growing season which also means year round plant pests. As someone who makes and sells products using essential oils and natural ingredients, and someone who is avid about protecting my little patch of earth from harmful pesticides and herbicides, I have researched and developed various natural remedies for plant pests and infections using many of the same ingredients I use on my skin! Many of the items you can find locally near you either at the grocery store or a garden center, and for sure you can find everything you need online. I’ll post links in the case you can’t find something near you. I get most of my essential oils from Mountain Rose Herbs which can be a bit more pricey, but I love the company and know their products are of the highest quality and purity, and are as sustainable as possible. 

NOTE: Just like on your skin, always test a small part of your plant before treating. It is best to treat plants in the early morning before exposure to harsh sun, as some oils can burn the leaves on plants, especially delicate and young leaves. I also have been known to treat in the evening during long summer days.

My Garden Medicine cabinet:

The following essential oils work to mask the scent of plants and deter insects with their strong concentrated scents and many also work as anti-fungals and antibacterials for a triple threat!:

- Clove or Cinnamon leaf oil

- Peppermint oil

- Rosemary oil

- Tea Tree oil

Other stuff to have around

Beer

Chili Peppers

Diatomaceous Earth

Garlic bulbs

Hydrogen peroxide 3% solution

Liquid soap (natural)

Neem oil

Tin Foil or shallow tin cans

Spray bottles -  32 oz - preferably one for each recipe to avoid cross contamination.

Glass dropper bottles for making master batches of essential oil blends

Recipes

All purpose plant spray - indoor and outdoor plants

This spray is my go-too for regular preventive garden pest management. I’ll spray this at leats weekly and more on outdoor plants if it is rainy season, to prevent large aphid, white fly and spider mite infestations on outdoor and indoor plants including the vegetable garden. It also deters leaf miners, grasshoppers and caterpillars/larvae stages of insects somewhat.

  • 1 teaspoon natural liquid soap

  • 2 teaspoons Neem oil

  • 3-5 drops each rosemary, cinnamon or clove and peppermint essential oils.

  • 30 oz of water

Combine in a 32 oz spray bottle and shake well.

To apply spray on the tops and underside of leaves, and plant stems for good measure.

powdery mildew loves the zucchini!

powdery mildew loves the zucchini!

Powdery Mildew Spray - outdoor plants

Use at first sign of powdery mildew and continue once a week throughout the growing season. Carefully remove and discard any badly damaged leaves and leaves covered with powdery mildew prior to use. Do not throw leaves in a compost bin as the mildew spores will contaminate your compost.

  • 2 teaspoons neem oil

  • 1 teaspoon dish soap

  • ½  teaspoon tea tree oil

  • 30 oz of water

Combine in a 32 oz spray bottle and shake well.

To apply spray on the tops and underside of leaves, and plant stems for good measure.

Be sure to test a small area and wait a day to make sure there is no yellowing or burning of leaves. If there is damage cut the neem oil and tea tree oils in half. This goes for all recipes with Neem oil - it tends to be the culprit.

Here is a great post on controlling powdery mildew

Garlic Spray for Caterpillar and Grasshopper control - outdoor plants

I love garlic but caterpillars and grasshoppers do not! This spray will kill caterpillars and deter grasshoppers (I have not found an effective natural way to kill grasshoppers but this spray helps. They really are the worst!)

  • 4 bulbs of garlic

  • 1 small red chili

  • 30 oz of water

  • 1 teaspoon of liquid soap

To prepare, mince garlic and chili and add to water, then let sit 24 hours. Strain and transfer to your spray bottle and add the liquid soap. To apply, spray on the tops and underside of leaves, and plant stems.

Here is a great post on grasshopper facts and control

sticky traps for fungus gnats work so well!

sticky traps for fungus gnats work so well!

Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2) for fungus gnat control - indoor and outdoor potted plants

At one point in the season my house will be suddenly swarming with teeny tiny flying insects. Yellow sticky traps do wonders for catching adults, but their larvae is in the soil and they need to be eliminated! This H2O2 solution does the trick and has the added bonus of oxygenating the soil and plant roots Sometimes the soil volcanoes out of the pot so put something under plants to catch the soil if it spills over - you can put it back in and press the air out of the soil later.

  • 3 oz hydrogen peroxide

  • 27 oz water

Water plant thoroughly and let water drain completely. This is to make sure the soil is hydrated and can absorb the solution. Combine H2O2 and water in a container and water the plant again with the solution until you have water running out the drain holes. If the soil starts to bubbly up and out of the container, gently press it down until it stops trying to escape. I find that doing this once every 2 month, combined with yellow sticky traps is highly effective at controlling fungus knats!

Beer Slug Traps - outdoor plants

Get cheap beer - slugs don’t care and you certainly would not want to waste a premium drinking beer. Slugs are attracted to the yeast in beer, then they crawl in (get drunk I hope) then drown.

  • cheap beer

  • tin foil or empty shallow can like a tuna can, to use as a vessel.

Bury your container in soil near plants that you want to protect from slug damage, or at various locations in your garden so the rim is just at soil level, then fill with beer. Clean traps and refill regularly as they fill with slugs Eeeeooow!

And remember, pest and disease prevention starts with good soil and nutrients.  A plant that has a good diet has a natural defense just like people! For outdoor plants you can have your soil tested for deficiencies though I never have (fingers crossed). I always amend with a good compost before planting and side dress with the following during growing season as directed by the manufacturer: organic blood meal, bone meal, rock dust and worm castings. For indoor plants I use fish emulsion and compost tea monthly and twice a month to weekly during growing seasons - depending on the vigor of the growth.

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