Garden pests can be quite an annoyance, especially if the infestation is severe enough to affect your plants in a majorly negative way. While preventative measures do exist, there are so many types of pests that it’s difficult to cover all of them with just one, or even several, sprays or pesticides. We’re of the opinion that you should stay vigilant, and at the first sign of an intruder, you can then develop an effective, specific defense plan.
To help you fight back and retake control of the outdoors, Dr. Willard’s has come up with a few homemade remedies to fight off a variety of pests in your own garden.
Water – As if it could get any simpler, spraying water directly at pests is an effective method of removal. Set your hose nozzle to a fine spray and fire away until you notice a significantly less amount of aphids or whiteflies. Kicking out pests can make room for more beneficial insects to take their place, which will ultimately keep pests in check in the future.
Soap – If basic water just isn’t powerful enough, adding natural, non-detergent soap to your spray bottle more than likely is. The natural fatty acids in soap can actually dissolve the outer shell of many insects, ultimately leading to their demise. Put about 1 teaspoon of natural dish soap or liquid castile soap into a quart spray bottle and add water. Without much effort at all, you have a powerful weapon against aphids, mites, scale, and thrips. Soap spraying doesn’t have to be ridiculously intense, but make sure you apply a solid coat to both the top and bottom of the leaves as well as stems if necessary.
Garlic & Hot Pepper Super Weapon – In the rare event that your soap spray fails to remove a large majority of pests in your garden, calling in the big guns certainly will. A crazy concoction of garlic and hot peppers added to the soap spray you made previously can really ruin an insect’s day. The recipe is very straightforward as well – take a small bulb of garlic (about 6 cloves), one small pepper (or one teaspoon of hot sauce), water, and blend them all together. Strain out the solid chunks that would otherwise get stuck in your spray bottle, add it to your soapy water fluid, and you’re on your way to reclaiming your garden in the name of humankind. This can be kept in the refrigerator for about a week after use before it gets unpleasant and stops being effective.
Although fungal diseases aren’t even remotely related to insects, they can be just as frustrating to deal with. If you have a flower garden and notice black spots on your roses or fungi running rampant in your food garden, fear not, Dr. Willard’s has discovered two sprays that can be made right from home.
Baking Soda Spray – One teaspoon of baking soda combined with one teaspoon of vegetable oil, soap, and water makes a great spot remover for various fungal diseases. Once you’re ready to spray, first you must remove damaged leaves that can’t be saved. After that, apply the formula to your garden once every week or so for maximum effectiveness. Periods immediately proceeding heavy rain should also be paid particular attention to. Fungus tends to thrive in these conditions, but can be shut down quickly with proper care.
PlantCatalyst for Powdery Mildew – One of the more common plagues of gardening is the presence of powdery mildew. Being a type of fungus, it affects a wide range of plants and grows particularly well in high humidity and moderate temperature environments. While there are many claims of simple solutions to wipe out the fungus on the internet and in gardening publications, one of the easiest and most effective methods we ourselves have tested is the use of Dr. Willard’s PlantCatalyst. Our product has been shown to thoroughly wipe out powdery mildew with proper application; simply dilute PlantCatalyst by adding 2 ounces to every gallon of water used on your garden to see dramatic results. Spray directly onto the affected areas to fight off and rid your plants of the fungus.
If you find your garden inhabited by the cuter versions of the “pest family”, ethical deterrents do exist. You can employ various sprays to discourage them from entering your garden, or you can take a more direct, preventative approach and put up fences or chicken wire cages.
Pepper Chaser – Take an ounce of hot sauce, 4 drops of dish soap, one cup of marigold or other aromatic leaves rabbits tend to avoid, and blend them all up with two cups of water. Remove any solids through a strainer, add to a spray bottle, and fill the remaining volume with more water. You can then gently spray the solution over the surface of your leaves, hopefully disheartening any rabbits or other small creatures from nibbling on your crop.
Milk Shake for Deer – Surprisingly, a simple formula comprised of a quarter cup of milk mixed with 4 drops of dish soap and water will usually be enough to keep deer away. When you’re spraying, focus on areas of tender growth, as this foliage is more likely to be targeted by the animals. Be sure to reapply about once a week or after every rainfall to refresh you deer barrier.
There are a huge number of repellents on the market, ranging from additional sprays to scent repellents to audial “scare” devices – which one you decide to use really depends on what sort of wildlife visits your garden. Scent repellent includes things like garlic clips, castor oil, and predator urine and depend on invoking a sense of unfamiliarity or fear. They’re most effective against rabbits and small rodents, but must be reapplied often to stay effective. Visual and auditory devices are also great at repelling unwelcome creatures. Ranging from ultrasonic noisemakers and motion-activated water sprayers to reflective tape, these are intended to spook animals from the area. Much like scent-based repellents, animals may grow used to your tactics; make sure you have multiple methods on rotation to keep wildlife guessing.
Despite the allure of these alternative methods, perhaps the most tested solution is the basic fence. As long as the animal cannot jump over the top or dig underneath, your garden should be completely safe. If building a fence around the entirety of your garden is too expansive of an idea or too unsightly for your tastes, smaller chicken wire cages work just as well, as long as the plant fits inside it comfortably.
Cages like this not only protect against wildlife, they’re great for keeping curious domestic animals from tearing up your plant. As much as they want to be, dogs and cats don’t make the best gardening partners. Live traps are also a viable option, but they’re the least desirable alternative. They require constant monitoring because leaving an animal trapped inside for too long without food or water may result in its death, which is both cruel and, in some states, against the law. If you’re an experienced hunter who’s comfortable handling live traps, this may be the option for you. However, more casual gardeners should stick to the tried and true methods mentioned previously in the blog.
There’s an answer to almost every kind of infestation you can imagine – from bugs to rodents to large mammals, there’s a way to prevent them from ruining your garden. Whatever it may be, we hope you found something that works for your specific needs. If you have your own family recipes or tactics for dealing with intruders, please, we encourage you to comment and share with everyone!