Most commercial products made to kill pests are also not so great for you. Exposure to pesticides can cause neurological problems, depression, respiratory issues, cancer, fatigue, and reproductive problems. Yet backyard gardeners tend to use three times more than farmers. These chemicals then run off into rivers, streams, and watersheds, causing destruction to animals and their habitats. Also, some 70 percent of non-organic fruits and vegetables are contaminated with at least one pesticide.
Thankfully, there are less damaging ways to beat the pests munching their way through your home-grown produce. They’re also cheaper than commercial pesticides. Here are a few to try at home:
General use pesticides:
Spearmint Hot Pepper Horseradish Spray: Mix together ¼ cup each of hot red peppers, fresh spearmint, horseradish, and green onion tops with some water, strain the solution, and add a half-gallon more of water and a tablespoon of non-toxic liquid soap. Spray on your plagued plants, and make sure to reapply after a rainstorm.
Dishwashing Liquid/Vegetable Oil
This combination is especially good for eliminating white flies, spider mites, and aphids. Mix one teaspoon of organic liquid dishwashing detergent with one cup of vegetable oil. Shake vigorously and add to a quart of tap water. Use at 10-day intervals as an all-purpose spray for insects on carrots, celery, cucumbers, eggplants, peppers, and other veggies. Spray mixture directly onto the bugs.
Easily found in garden or aquarium centers, this natural compound is made up of the sharp remains of miniscule fossilized plants. Sprinkle your garden with it and when insects walk on it, it slices their exoskeletons, killing them.
Garlic and Mineral Oil
Chop 10 to 15 garlic cloves into small pieces and soak in 1 pint of mineral oil overnight. Strain and spray oil mixture directly on infestations.
For slugs and snails:
Set out little dishes of beer around your garden. Snails and slugs will drink it, become intoxicated, fall in and drown.