It’s getting to be that time of year again where the insects are coming out full force to munch on the organic vegetables in my garden! I hate aphids the most. So, what’s the best way to control them while still remaining organic? Here are some homemade remedies.
If you have beetles, caterpillars or larger bugs, remove them by hand. It’s the most thorough way without using insecticide. I get a lot of satisfaction pulling off these little monsters one at time and tossing them in a small bucket of soapy water (I’m not fond of smashing them to kill them).
If you have to many bugs or hard to pick off soft insects like aphids, the best way to remove them is to pull out your hose and spray the plants top to bottom, and underneath. This alone will make a huge difference. If you find them quickly settling in again and literally infesting, it’s time to create a homemade spray that will be harsh but harmless to you, your family, your pets and of course your tender plants.
Start with a quart of water and add a tablespoon of oil soap cleaner (like Murphy’s). You can also use a very basic dish soap that does not include a degreaser or antibacterial chemical. Then add one or more of the following; 2 garlic cloves pureed, 1 medium onion pureed or 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Strain anything that may get stuck in a hand spray bottle and you are good to go.
Direct this spray right on the infested area including the bottom of the leaves. You want it liberally applied in the infested area, but limited anywhere else. This spray may kill beneficial insects like lady bugs and pollinators like bees, so you want to be careful with it.
If there are only a few bugs, you really don’t need to take action. Nature has a way of fixing itself. I found this out when I grew exasperated trying to get rid of a swarm of aphids, and days later lady bugs had moved in and ate them all up. Another time caterpillars defoliated one section of my garden, but once they moved on, the foliage grew back in thicker and sturdier. In nature, plants and insects live together and there is still a harvest for the creatures that live there.
The best way to simplify organic gardening is to accept imperfection and bask in the natural process. Only go out of your way to destroy the bugs in your garden when they are gaining too much ground for you to get the harvest you want.