Here it is the beginning of June and bugs are making their appearances in our garden. We wanted to share a recipe we’ve found that has been recommended to us by other gardeners and has proven to be effective in dealing with unwanted insects and other bugs in the garden.
This is a different approach than our Squash bug solution. You can read that article here – Squash Bugs and Ways to Deal with Them. That approach works well for more than just Squash bugs, so give this recipe and that one a try to see what works for your garden! You might also like some of our solutions detailed in Heirloom Tomato Growing Tips that shows several methods of deflecting insects, nematodes and blight, mildew and other assorted fungi that love our tomatoes.
It needs to be mentioned that spending time in your garden and getting to know who lives there is extremely valuable, as then you’ll know when some shady character moves in. You might still be taken by surprise when you discover a colony of insects chomping on your squash, tomatillo or tomato plants; but you’ll know with certainty that they weren’t there last night or the morning before. This knowledge is valuable, as this helps in choosing which methods to use and how aggressive to apply them.
Here is another recipe for a broad-based insect repellent for your garden. This is a very concentrated recipe, as the garlic and onion oils are extracted into the mineral oil, so test spray a small area before soaking the whole garden. The extraction is based on English research used to test the effectiveness of garlic and onion oils as natural antibiotics and anti-fungal agents.
Start by testing it on a small area at a 20:1 dilution – 20 parts water to 1 part bug solution. You can always dilute it with more water if you find it is too aggressive for your plants. If it is effective, increase the dilution ratio 10:1 at a time until the solution is still effective, but not immediate. You don’t want to nuclear carpet bomb the problem, just kill off the bad bugs. Remember, this kills all bugs, not just the bad ones, so go easy and be careful! Garlic oil is very effective, but if used in large doses it will be deadly to bugs and soil micro-organisms as well. It must be said that homegrown or locally and organically grown garlic and onions are the best, as they will have much stronger oils than commodity ones from the grocery store.
- 3 heads, not cloves, of garlic - crushed
- 2 medium onions, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup mineral oil
- 2 Tsp pure liquid dish soap - (Dr. Bronner's is best - it is organic) do not use any detergent - it lasts too long and upsets the biological balance of the soil organisms.
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 Tsp extra hot pepper sauce (Dave's Insanity Sauce is great!)
- Add crushed garlic and chopped onion to 1/4 cup mineral oil and let soak for 24 hours.
- Dissolve liquid dish soap into 1 pint of warm water, stirring well.
- Slowly soap-dissolved water to mineral oil, stirring well.
- Strain out solids through fine gauze or cheesecloth, then store in glass container - do not use a metal one as the extract will react with it!
- Add Garlic/Onion extract to apple cider vinegar and hot sauce.
- Stir well, making sure not to get any on your hands - it will burn!
- Use a 20:1 dilution ratio as a starting point - 20 parts water to 1 part bug solution. If bugs die rapidly, increase dilution to 30:1 or 40:1 until bugs don't die off as rapidly, then go back one dilution.
- It is best to make this fresh as needed, as the oils will work best on the bugs when they are at their peak. Another approach is to use garlic essential oil that has been distilled and is many times more potent than the home-grown extract. If using the essential oil, start with 5 - 10 drops of oil in place of the extract. Look for garlic essential oil in your local health foods store or apothecary.