Garden pests are so common and resilient that they appear in song and rhyme. Although many chemical pesticides have been manufactured to eradicate them, they are still with us. Inexpensive natural pest deterrents have no lasting environmental impact, and can usually be derived from common household materials.
Insects are the most common garden pests. To eradicate aphids, mealy bugs and mites, mix a tablespoon of vegetable oil and a teaspoon of mild dish soap into a quart of water. The spray smothers the aphids and keeps newcomers off the leaves. Coffee grounds deter slugs and help enrich the topsoil, as does spreading a fine copper mesh over the soil.
Insects are also prey to other insects. Pest-eating insects like ladybugs or praying mantis are available from your local nursery. Ladybugs love aphids, and praying mantises enjoy all insects. Hover-flies and lacewings eat aphids, whiteflies and scale, and can be attracted to your garden with goldenrod or yarrow flowers. Try letting a few carrots or some parsley flower to attract brachonids, which destroy leaf-eating caterpillars.
Plants themselves are good insect deterrents. Strongly-scented tomato and basil defend against pests. Interspersing marigolds and catnip throughout your garden beautifies it, keeps your cat happy and keeps aphids away.
You can outsmart bugs with traps. Slugs and aphids can be drowned in beer. Standard flypaper can capture aphids and whiteflies. Pheromone traps are large-volume killers, but actually attract pests, so they should be used with care.
Fungus and disease can be as devastating as insects. For common fungus, mix a tablespoon of baking soda in a quart of water and spray the affected leaves every few days until the problem is gone. For powdery mildew, try a mixture of half milk and half water, applied every week or so.
Mix one egg with ¼ cup of water and spray onto leaves to repel raccoons, rabbits, and deer. The aphid spray deterrent also works well. Try adding a few drops of hot sauce or cayenne for added punch. Animal pests also respond to Fox or Coyote urine, a bottle of which will last all season.
Trial and error is your friend when it comes to natural pest control. If you are at your wit’s end there are commercially produced natural pesticides available at your local nursery or home improvement store. A combination of technique, patience and diligence will help you derive the best strategy to keep your garden safe and healthy.