As many of us are about to start gardening, its time to think of those garden pests that try to take over you garden if you let them. It’s been many years since I used chemical sprays in my yard but sometimes you need a way to control insects. I use natural insect control methods only. Here are a few techniques that work for me. Lemnia saucia  Mulsant, 1850
photo credit: Arthur Chapman

First if you keep weeds down in the garden (mulching is great) the insects will not have a place to hide.

Remove all unhealthy plants. In their weakened state they will attract insects. Proper watering and nutrition will help keep you plants healthy.

And as strange as it sounds, the best control I have found for cabbageworms are pantyhose. I take the bottom toe section of pantyhose and cover the entire cabbage plant. The white moths that lay the cabbageworm eggs cannot get to vegetable so do not lay eggs. This works for broccoli and cauliflower as well. One added benefit for cauliflower is that you can wrap the leaves around the cauliflower head when dressing the plant and it will self blanch.

Here are a few proven natural insect control sprays that work.

Tomato leaf spray: Soak one to two cups of chopped tomato leaves in two cups of water overnight. Next strain through cheesecloth and add two more cups of water to the strained liquid. Shake well and use it to spray plants to protect them from insects that feed on the liquid in plants. This will cause disease and plant death.

Potato starch spray: Mix two to four tablespoons of potato flour in one quart of water. Add two to three drops of non-detergent liquid soap. This will also protect the plants from insect that feed on liquid, also called sucking insects, in the plants.

Rodale’s all-purpose spray: Chop and grind one garlic bulb and one small onion. Add one teaspoon of powdered cayenne pepper and mix with one quart of water. Let steep for one hour and strain through cheesecloth. Next add one tablespoon of liquid dishwashing soap to the strained liquid. Mix well and spray plants thoroughly. This kills the sucking insects.

Garlic spray: Blend 1/4-pound of strong garlic for five to 10 minutes with a quart of water and one tablespoon of liquid dishwashing soap. Strain the mixture through cheesecloth and collect the liquid. Next dilute the solution with one part per 10 parts water before spraying. This solution will last about one month if refrigerated. It will repel ants, mole crickets and sucking insects.

Hot dust: Grind dried homegrown red or chili peppers or dill weed (including seeds) to dust. Sprinkle along seeded rows of vegetables to repel ants. Store-bought black pepper, chili pepper, dill, ginger, paprika and red pepper all contain capsaicin, which repels ants. Note: when using red peppers or chili peppers take care not to get the dust in your eyes or on your hands. Scarecrow - Avenefica
photo credit: a. venefica

A garden that is well taken care of usually does not get many insects, but sometimes you may need a little natural help. But avoid the chemical sprays in the store is at all possible. They are hard on the environment, kill good insects and harm birds. They also leave chemical on your fresh healthy vegetables.

By using organic gardening ideas and green gardening techniques you will have better produce and a cleaner environment