In the Garden:
Northern & Central Midwest
August, 2005
Regional Report

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This plate of homely vegetables can be an invaluable arsenal for home remedies.

Homemade Remedies Help Eliminate Pests

With the concerns so many of us have about our environment these days, it seems only natural to pick methods of controlling insects and diseases in the garden that are nontoxic to anything except the pest we need to control.

In fact, many old-time garden formulas can work just as well as current, more toxic methods to control pests. You may have to spray a little more often and spend more time in the garden observing so you catch things before they get out of hand. But it should feel good to know that you are causing no harm to the environment, not to mention saving money by using ingredients from your own kitchen.

There are a couple of things to keep in mind before you get to mixing and creating your homemade formulas. First of all, don't assume that because something is organic it is always safe. As an example, nicotine has been used for hundreds of years as a pesticide. It is quite powerful and effective and completely organic. But it is also extremely toxic to the environment, as well as humans. Pyrethrum or painted daisy juice is also effective but can be quite toxic as well.

To start developing your own arsenal, you will need a blender, dish detergent, corn or safflower oil, and cheesecloth. I recommend that you purchase an old blender jar at a garage sale and keep it exclusively for bug sprays to avoid any possible contamination of food. A bit of detergent and oil added to sprays make them stick to leaves, and the cheesecloth is used to strain vegetable sprays.

When you make up a spray, remember that it is made of vegetables and will deteriorate just as the salad makings in the crisper drawer fade. Keep leftover spray in the refrigerator, or make up a new batch each time you need it. You also can freeze concentrates in freezer bags or old ice cube trays.

Here are a few basic sprays with which to experiment. Proportions need not be firm, so use whatever you have in abundance. Also, some of the sprays listed below work to actually kill insects, while others act as repellents.

General Insecticide 1
2 pounds ripe tomatoes
1 large onion
1 pound fresh chili peppers
2 cloves garlic
1 cup vinegar
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Blend all ingredients and strain before adding to sprayer.

General Insecticide 2
Blend tomato leaves or rhubarb leaves with water, let steep overnight, and then strain.

General Insecticide 3
6 cloves garlic, mashed
1 tablespoon crushed hot pepper
1 quart warm water

Add garlic and pepper to water and steep several days. Strain and put in spray bottle. Spray on plants to repel flea beetles, etc.

Insecticide for Soft-Bodied Insects
1 pint water
rind from one lemon, grated

Boil water and add lemon rind. Let steep overnight. Strain and put in spray bottle.

Mealybug Spray
2 tablespoons corn oil
2 tablespoons dishwashing liquid
1 gallon water

Spray directly on insects.


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