Hi! So this isn’t my usual style of blog post but as I’ve gained a lot of followers who are plant lovers and gardeners recently I thought I would add this in.
There are a variety of ways that you can keep your plants and gardens healthy, but they largely depend on where you live, the weather, and whether or not you have pets or children around.
You are probably aware that pesticides have been used for years, in many forms and recipes. However, people becoming more and more environmentally and economically friendly and you want to consider making your own at home.
Pesticides are well known for being harmful to children, pets and even adults. Some bring our skin out in rashes, whilst others are only harmful if ingested, which end up being a huge concern for those of us with little ones (furry or otherwise!). It is also important to consider local wildlife and nature that may be attracted to our gardens, as pesticides can be harmful to bees, earthworms and foxes.
If you’re looking for pet safe pesticides, stay tuned for that post coming soon…
I’m here with some recipes and further ideas for you to try with the contents of your kitchen cupboards, or maybe a quick trip to your local shops. However, just because these options are DIY, it doesn’t mean that they will be safe for all plant or grass types. So it is recommended that you do some further research before making up a batch of pesticides and then realising you’ve used the worst kind of ingredients for your set up.
Please do your research thoroughly, as everyone’s gardens, grasses and plants are different.
So, let’s take a look at some of the ingredients you will need to create your own pet-safe pesticides at home. Some basics that you will most likely have in your kitchen already are:
- Vegetable oil
- Neem oil
- Baking soda
And some other items you might consider are beer and a spray bottle. You can pick these up in most garden centres, home and hardware stores and pound / dollar shops. This is the most effective method for distributing your pesticide spray without it getting onto your skin, your clothes or more annoyingly, spilling it all over the floor. You may also need a small mixing bowl and a sieve / strainer.
Now we can move onto the recipes
1. Garlic spray
Garlic spray can help to keep away pests such as aphids and slugs.There are a few ways To create a garlic spray, depending on the equipment you have at home.
You will need two cloves of garlic, ½-1 cup of boiling water and a bowl.
Firstly, you will need to peel and crush the garlic. You can put the cloves in a food blender, or crush them by hand with a knife or a pedal and mortar. Secondly, place the crushed garlic in a bowl and cover it with boiling water. ½ a cup would create a strong solution, so add more water to create a less toxic solution if you have pets. Leave the mixture overnight, and before placing the mixture in the spray bottle you should strain it so the crushed cloves do not clog up the spray tube.
You can also add a teaspoon of chilli powder to the mixture.
Whilst large amounts of garlic can be toxic to cats and dogs, garlic spray is often used as a flea and tick treatment. Consider creating a weaker solution and avoid using large amounts frequently to reduce the risk of your pet ingesting too much, if they’re the kind that likes to eat your plants! (Can’t they just be satisfied with their own food?)
Gardening tip: Garlic can also ward off healthy insects that help our garden grow, so use a light spray and do not saturate your garden with a solution.
2. Chilli spray
This one’s nice and easy. Add 2 teaspoons of chilli, hot paprika or cayenne pepper powder to boiling water. Let it cool. Strain any large particles away, to avoid clogging up the spray bottle. Spray!
3. Neem oil
Neem oil is becoming more popular amongst house plant fanatics, and there’s no reason why it cannot also be brought outside as part of your garden care routine as well.
It is a natural product that disrupts the hormone properties in insects, making it an effective solution for the majority of common indoor and garden pests. Neem oil is an excellent option because it is safe for your pets, but also for wildlife, including birds.
Whilst neem oil is a great preventative measure against bugs, if you already have them on your plants it’s important to know that it will not kill the bugs instantly. It may take days or weeks for them to die off, so patience is the key here. Which, I know, is tough when plants are like your babies!
Mix 1 and a half teaspoons of neem oil concentrate, and 1 litre of warm water.
Put all of the ingredients into your spray bottle and give it a good shake!
It’s really important that you test the solution on one leaf before drowning the entire plant in it. Leave it for a day and if the leaf shows no sign of damage, your plant should be fine!
Spray your leaves and the stem(s) with the neem oil solution, covering as much of the plant as possible. You might want to put it in a sink, bath or even take it outside to do this.
Keep the plant out of direct sunlight until the leaves are dry.
Repeat this process until all of the bugs are gone.
Pssstt… Neem oil has an extremely strong smell, especially if you’ve never smelt it before! It’s recommended that you spray your plants outside so you don’t breathe it in all day.
4. All in one
If you want to tackle a variety of pests in one go then have a go at making an all-in-one pesticide spray. This really can be a trial-and-error and there’s no set recipe for this. Depending on the size of your spray bottle, the average holds about two cups of water, you can add more or less of certain spices.
2 crushed garlic gloves
½ a teaspoon of turmeric
½ a teaspoon of chilli, paprika or cayenne pepper
2 cups of boiling water
Leave the mixture to stew overnight and strain the mixture before adding it to the spray bottle, to avoid clogging up the pump.
This mixture works for a variety of pests, both indoor and out, but make sure you wash your hands very carefully after creating, and using this spray as the mixture can irritate both eyes and skin.
5. Citrus spray
Although you may not reap the benefit of the fresh smell of this spray if using it on your garden, citrus sprays can be used for multiple purposes around the house and in your garden. Citrus sprays are a non-toxic, natural way to keep pests away.
Boil 2-4 cups of water and then turn off the heat. Add 2-3 citrus fruit peels and leave the ‘mixture’ to cool down. Add into the spray bottle and off you go!
6. Salt trails
Salt is well known for killing off slugs, but it can be messy and create a painful death for them. So, if you’re looking for something less barbaric, perhaps try one of our other methods. If you are not the sentimental kind, lay a trail of salt around plant pots and the edges of flower beds.
7. Beer trays
Some say that slugs love beer! So much so that it kills them, as when you set out a tray of beer they fall in and down. It’s not the best way to go for anyone, but it is an effective method if you don’t mind sharing a beer with these little critters!
Many gardeners swear by garlic as a natural pest control. Some say chives are effective if the leaves are tied around vulnerable plants; sounds fiddly.
8. Coffee grounds
Coffee grounds have been used by gardeners for years, and are a reasonable way to combat slugs! Sprinkle the used coffee grounds over the edges of flower beds or mix them into the soil. You can also add this into the soil of your houseplants, but sprinkling the grounds on top of the soil may lead to mould and attract files (ugh!)
Tip: freshly ground coffee that has not been used, or filtered through water, does not have the same effect.
And one final word of advice before you leave us, just because something is made at home, organic or plant-based does not automatically make it safe for humans, animals or the environment! Please do your research before deciding on a certain pesticide and make sure it is appropriate for your situation.
Happy gardening / planting and please let me know if you try any of these recipes – and if they work for you!