Pesticides are harmful to us and the environment. There are more than 9,000 different acceptable pesticides that have been approved by the FDA. You may not be able to see, smell or taste them, but unless you eat organically-grown food, you’re consuming them. And unfortunately these pesticides don’t harm only the pests they are intended for. They can pose health risks for us too. Even produce certified as organic may contain some pesticides that are allowed under the organic certification, although the amount of pesticides on organic produce will be far less than that used on commercially-grown, non-organic produce.
So are pesticides even necessary? Contrary to what the developers of agricultural pesticides would tell you, the answer is NO. And the one way to make sure the food you eat is pesticide-free is to grow your own, work with nature instead of “fighting” against her, and use natural pesticides if you really have to.
* be carcinogenic
* cause infertility
* cause organ damage
* cause birth defects
* cause neurological problems
… and more.
The big advantage of growing your own food, is that you can have the freshest, tastiest food for a fraction of the cost of store bought. Now if you could also grow your food organically you would also have the healthiest food available, you won’t be contributing to the environmental damage caused by chemical pesticides and you’d save even more money, since organically grown food is usually more expensive.
Just because you don’t use chemical pesticides, doesn’t mean you have to put up with insect damage to your garden either. There are many tried and true natural pesticide alternatives that work just as well or better. You probably have the ingredients for most of them in your kitchen already. Here are just a few to get you started.
4 Natural Pesticides You Can Make At Home
1. The Beer Trap: Slugs and snails can decimate a garden literally overnight if they get out of control. Luckily, they also love a popular human beverage – beer. They don’t mind if it’s flat, either. You can use a bowl, or even better re-use a discarded jar with the lid removed. Pour some beer into your container and place it near a bed you want to protect overnight. The slugs and snails, attracted to the beer, will crawl in to have a drink and drown. The next day, tip it out and repeat.
2. Dish Soap Spray: This is one of the simplest natural pesticides you can make. It works well on mites, aphids, whitefly, mealy bugs and scale insects. Just mix a cup of biodegradable liquid dish soap, such as natural castile soap, into a gallon of water. Pour some into a spray bottle and use it to mist your plants. Only use it when necessary to keep pests under control, because it can slow down the growth of your fruits and vegetables. Since it’s effective, and doesn’t have a strong odor it’s ideal for use on your indoor plants as well.
3. Garlic & Cayenne Pepper Spray: This spray protects against slugs and insect infestation. To one gallon of water add one minced/mashed garlic bulb, one minced/mashed onion and either 3 fresh cayenne peppers, minced (if you have them) or 4 tablespoons of dried cayenne powder. Let it steep for 24 hours. Strain out all the pulp, so it won’t clog your spray bottle, add 1/4 cup biodegradable liquid dish soap and stir it in. Fill your spray bottle and apply where needed. The pulp can be buried around the edges of your garden beds to help repel the insects. The oil in the cayenne will burn if it comes in contact with your skin or mucus membranes (like your nose and throat), so be sure to use eye protection, gloves, and use caution when working with this spray.
4. Orange Spray: This spray is great for getting rid of soft-bodied insect pests such as aphids, mealy bugs, and can also be used indoors and out as an ant repellant. Save your orange peels, if they are organically grown, all the better. Use 2 cups of boiling water, and one teaspoon of biodegradable liquid soap (such as castile soap) per orange peel. Pour the boiling water over the peel and let it steep for 24 hours, then strain. Add the liquid soap and pour into spray bottles.
All these recipes use safe, common household ingredients. They’re inexpensive and easy to make, and there is a certain satisfaction and sense of self-sufficiency that comes from making your own natural products. So this summer, instead of tipping out the stale beer after the barbecue or tossing out those orange peels try using them to make your own natural pesticides. Your garden, and your planet, will love you for it.