Readers Digest
Magazine subscription Podcast
HomeLifestyleHome & Garden

Dealing with garden pests without pesticides


1st Jan 2015 Home & Garden

Dealing with garden pests without pesticides
Pests are a common problem for gardeners, but you don’t always need to resort to commercial pesticides to get rid of the problem. Here are a few ideas for dealing with garden pests by using natural ingredients and companion planting.

Make your own sprays

Natural ingredients can work as effectively as commercial pesticides. These ingredients won’t harm your plants in any way and are often toxic-free, allowing you to use them on consumable plants and herbs. Browse our gardening accessories for extra help.

Chilli and Salt

Most common garden pests hate the burning sensation from natural ingredients like garlic, chilli and salt. You can combine chilli together with lemon juice and water. Use it around the garden to keep ants and other small insects away.

All-purpose pesticide

If you want to make an all-purpose natural pesticide, you’ll need to mix:
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • ½ onion
  • ½ tbsp. cayenne powder (or other similar chilli powder)
  • 400 ml warm water
  • ½ tsp. castile soap
  1. Mix the ingredients in a blender and pour the liquid into a jar with a lid.
  2. Let it stand on the counter for at least six hours or leave it overnight.
  3. Strain the mixture through a muslin cloth and add castile soap while mixing thoroughly.
  4. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and use on your plants. Make sure you thoroughly spray the plants with the liquid.

Essential Oils

You can also use natural oils like neem or eucalyptus oil on your plants. Mix 2-3 drops of essential oil with lukewarm water. You can either spray the mixture on your plants or gently rub it onto the plant.
Neem oil is a great choice, as it is one of the most powerful organic pesticides and will work against 50 of the most common insects.
Eucalyptus oil is another great essential oil to repel pests. If you have problems with flies and bees, spray the eucalyptus oil in the affected area and you’ll quickly get rid of the problem.

Tobacco Ash

If you have a smoker in the family you can even take advantage of cigarette ashes in your garden. You just need to combine cigarette ash with water, allow the mixture to settle overnight, and spray it on your plants.
Do keep in mind that you shouldn’t use tobacco ash on plants that belong to the solanaceae family or on any consumable plants, as the ashes are toxic.

Try companion planting

As well as using natural sprays, you can deter some garden pests by companion planting. Companion planting occurs when you add specific plants to your garden in order to prevent specific pests from appearing.
For example, if you are planting carrots, plant them together with leeks, as this repels both carrot and onion flies.
Aphids are causing headaches for gardeners, but you can repel them by planting chives near sunflowers and tomatoes. You should also introduce ladybugs to your garden, as these are effective in keeping off aphids.
If you are faced with a mouse problem, then a border of daffodils is great for deterring mice.
For more companion plant pairings, check out The Gardens Ablaze website.

Give organic gardening a go

Organic gardening is a wonderful way to save money and to protect the natural habitat of plants. Make sure you understand what specific pests are doing to your garden before you find ways to repel them. Sometimes certain worms or bugs may enhance your garden instead of harming it, and often attracting these “good pests” can help you manage your garden better.
Loading up next...
Stories by email|Subscription
Readers Digest

Launched in 1922, Reader's Digest has built 100 years of trust with a loyal audience and has become the largest circulating magazine in the world

Readers Digest
Reader’s Digest is a member of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (which regulates the UK’s magazine and newspaper industry). We abide by the Editors’ Code of Practice and are committed to upholding the highest standards of journalism. If you think that we have not met those standards, please contact 0203 289 0940. If we are unable to resolve your complaint, or if you would like more information about IPSO or the Editors’ Code, contact IPSO on 0300 123 2220 or visit