All Natural Garden Insecticides

Everyone who guessed Pap used the can for sevin dust was right. Most years we have trouble with bugs eating the beans-not much else just the beans. I don’t like to use sevin dust even though I grew up eating from a garden where it was used.

A quick google will turn up all sorts of homemade insecticides:

  • water mixed with dish detergent
  • water mixed with pepper flakes or chopped hot peppers
  • pee-I think I might rather have sevin dust than pee
  • planting marigolds or nasturtiums around the garden-I always plant nasturiums and marigolds but I can’t really tell if they help or not
  • oily mixture made from dish detergent or peppers
  • a sprinkle of wheat bran
  • a sprinkle of tobacco dust-not sure where you’d get that unless you grew tobacco or knew someone who did
  • a tea made from tobacco and water-most recipes said this type of insecticide should be used sparingly due to the high nicotine content
  • releasing friendly bug eating bugs in your garden like ladybugs
  • pick the bugs off by hand and drown in a jug of water-this would take the patience of Job if you had a big garden-but I know folks who do it every year

The only homemade insecticide I’ve ever used from the list above is the pepper/oil mixture. Maybe my mixture recipe was off, but it didn’t work for me. Do you use the old stand by sevin dust or have you found a more natural remedy that works?



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  • Reply
    May 15, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    I don’t think sevin works good in our area anymore, I think the bugs are immune to it. I have planted marigolds around the garden before and I think it helps. I hate potato bugs – I’ve spent many a backbreaking hot hours going through the potato patch slipping the bugs into a cup and then disposing of them. yuck!

  • Reply
    May 15, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    We have always been lucky with not having big critter problems. we do have bug problems though. Here is a remedy that I heard, but have not tried. It comes from Vicki West of Homestead blessings. She says you can take some of the bugs and then put them in the blender ( I think I would have a separete one for this) and blend them with some water and spray on the plants. She says the bugs will not come near the plants then.

  • Reply
    May 12, 2011 at 7:42 am

    I was supposed to be researching this over the winter, but studying for school took precedence over the garden.
    But I have a stack of organinc gardening magazines that I intend to begin searching through.
    But I have learned a lot from your readers!

  • Reply
    janet pressley
    May 12, 2011 at 4:07 am

    I agree with anything with peppers to keep the varmits away. Nana

  • Reply
    May 11, 2011 at 9:47 pm

    I don’t use any thing except the pick them off method. For larger nuisances like deer and rabbits, I brush my Lab and put his hair all over the edges of the for most of the growing season

  • Reply
    SandyCarlson (USA)
    May 11, 2011 at 9:46 pm

    Thanks for this info. Your blog is great.

  • Reply
    Glenda B
    May 11, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    Being a person who is badly affected if exposed to pesticides, I am happy to see so many using natural ways to rid the garden of bugs. I am a container gardener now, raising what little I can in pots on my deck. Luckily I have no problems with varmints or bugs, and if I did, I could easily pick them off. My friend Mary has a pretty large blueberry farm. She and her husband pick off the damaging insects by hand.
    I like the idea of letting the children do that chore. Keeps them out of trouble.

  • Reply
    May 11, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    I remember Mom telling me her and her sister’s job when they were kids was picking the potato bugs off and dropping them in a tin can of turpentine. Lawsey mercy, I would have died out in the sun! I’m a red head!

  • Reply
    May 11, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    Have used Sevin for years, ever since a PhD at the NC State Vet School told us humans or pets could eat it with a spoon (not that we did it) and not be affected by it.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    May 11, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    Tipper–I’ve got a lot of years of experience, and even more tales of frustration, as a gardener. While I dislike using pesticides of any kind, I will in desperate circumstances. For example, I am not going to stand idly by and watch tens of thousands of Japanese beetles destroy the 30 or 40 grape and muscadine vines I have. I religiously shake them into a bucket with a bit of soapy water in it, but at times I still have to spray liquid Sevin.
    Here are a few thoughts on “remedies” for some of the problems you and others mention.
    (1) Tobacco dust is just snuff, and you can, I presume, still buy it. In the old days it was regularly used to protect bean seed and other seed being saved from one season to the next. Grandpa Joe used it all the time.
    (2)For snails, nothing beats a pie plate with a bit of beer poured into it. I don’t know if they get drunk and drown or just drown, but it works.
    (3) Someone mentioned “collars” for small tomato plants. It isn’t actually grub worms but cut worms they stymie (although come to think of it, I guess the cut worm is a kind of grub).
    (4) Any time I am out in the winter and find a preying mantis case, I stick it in my hunting jacket and bring it home to place in the garden. They eat a bunch of bugs.
    (5) While they are a pest in white-painted houses come fall, lady bugs do wonderful things in terms of eating aphids.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    May 11, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    My internet wouldn’t open all day
    until just now…Frontier is just
    But I got a really good laugh of
    Sanda Kalvaitis’ comment about the
    rabbits making coffee.
    Last year I quit the sevin dust and used Ortho Max Lawn and Garden
    Insect Killer. Its good! At Wal-
    Marts for about $14. a quart.
    I heard on our local radio a remedy for keeping ladybugs out of
    of the house. Mix 2 tablespoons of
    Texas Pete to a gallon of water and spray around doors and windows. I can handle insects in
    my garden, its moles that I have
    a problem with. Guess I need more
    fiests! …Ken

  • Reply
    sandy kalvaitis
    May 11, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    The squirrels like sunflower seeds much more than anything you could grow in your garden so if you fill a bird feeder with them and put it where they can reach it they will spend all day taking one seed at a time. They will be too busy with the sunflower seeds to bother with your garden plants.

  • Reply
    Mary Jane
    May 11, 2011 at 11:42 am

    You didn’t say what kind of bugs, but we usually have aphids on the beans and blackeyed and purple hull peas. I never use any kind of chemicals on the garden, so I was in despair year before last when they attacked the prettiest fall garden we’d ever had. I prayed about it, not wanting to use anything at all, and the first day, I saw only three or four ladybugs. The next day, there were a few more. The third day, as I was picking peas, I noticed a yellow jacket on a leaf, moving his head back and forth…so peculiar until I watched closely. He was vacuuming up aphids! As I picked peas the next few days, I’d see lots of yellow jackets, wasps, and ladybugs, all working on eating the aphids, and as I reached into the vines,the insects would just move aside. I accidentally closed my hand over a yellow jacket once, when I didn’t see him, and he barely touched me with his stinger…not even a real sting. We co-existed all garden season. I was taught by my cotton-farming Daddy to respect and leave them alone, because they ate cotton insects. Nobody is allowed to bother them on our farm. Isn’t God great? Maybe you just need to wait a few days and pray.

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    May 11, 2011 at 11:04 am

    I have often heard that planting garlic around the garden would keep the deer and rabbits out. Never tried it, though.

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    May 11, 2011 at 10:21 am

    We have used liquid detergent, pepper water treatment, sprayed on plants with fairly good results..have to keep it up though…
    I wonder about the tobacco remedy as I think about the tobacco mosiac virus on tomatoes..but maybe that’s just touching tomatoes after smoking or while planting tomatoes..
    In bad bug years we have dusted beans in the summer, as a last resort..but after I get my beans they can have the rest…ha
    We use little sticks next to the stems when putting in tomato, squash or cucumber plants in the spring…keeps the cut worms at bay until the plants get bigger..any small one or two inch sticks will do to keep the “devil” from wrapping its body around the stem and cutting it off..I hate to go the the garden and see some of my new plants cut off…like someone took a sharp knife and cut them!
    We go to yard sales, pick up the darkest old strong stinky perfume we can find (cheap)…soak rags in it and hang around the perimeter of the garden to deter Bambi and his girlfriends…ha
    Helped in years past…
    20 Mule Team Borax is a bug deterant too..
    Nothing like a good “foot stomp” for irradicating bugs..if you have the time to walk your rows early morning and evening…Ha
    Thanks Tipper

  • Reply
    Sandy Kalvaitis
    May 11, 2011 at 9:37 am

    I do use sevin dust on beans and tomato plants and used to use an assortment of chemicals on some things to try to get rid of slugs. Then I remembered what my grandpa did and went to the feed store and bought a bag of crushed oyster shells and put them around my hostas and basil and lettuce. Haven’t seen any slug damage since. When I was a small kid I remember him answering a million questions and the answer to why the oyster shells was that it hurts their belly to clawl on it. He also told me that those little puffs of fog in the mountains in the morning were from the rabbits making coffee. I miss him.

  • Reply
    May 11, 2011 at 8:48 am

    I kept my Grandson busy for hours one summer with a bug zapper which he transferred to a bug cage. Being a boy he loved catching them. I may not have much luck this year with Wii in the house. Growing up my Dad would send us out to catch them from a huge garden. It kept little hands active in the Summer.

  • Reply
    Gary Powell
    May 11, 2011 at 7:57 am

    I don’t like to use Sevin either, but it does seem to work best. I bought an applicator at Tractor Supply that has a little fan and spout. It directs the dust where you need it so you don’t have to cover the whole garden. I guess you could use it to broadcast seed or fertilizer also.

  • Reply
    Joe Mode
    May 11, 2011 at 7:51 am

    Well, my mother-in-law would sprinkle crushed up egg shells around her plants to keep the snails off, said they don’t like crawling over the shells. She would also put aluminum foil at the base of her tomato plants, a little below the surface, to keep the grub worms away.

  • Reply
    Mary Shipman
    May 11, 2011 at 7:42 am

    Two I have had reasonable luck with Tipper are a mix of good old dish liquid, water and hot pepper flakes. Sttep the pepper flakes in hot watere, strain and add about a tablespoon of dish liquid to a gallon of the pepper juice.
    On corn stalks, we put a reaspoon of cooking oil on the cornsilks as they appear for the corn worms. It doesn’t keep them all out, but it seems to have cut down on the damage the past couple of years.
    I’m with you on the marigolds, don’t know if they ‘work’, but it makes for a pretty spot in the garden.

  • Reply
    Ed Myers
    May 11, 2011 at 7:41 am

    I don’t use insecticides, which I say not out of moral superiority and certainly not out of tenderness for my tender back. No, it all relates to the grocery store and, albeit somewhat related, growing potatoes.
    The grocery store. No one grows fruits and vegetables that perfect and perfectly tasteless as what appears on the aisles. No one who has been a gardener, that is. Leaves one to question.
    I don’t mind the little holes made by flea beetles. The larger bugs seemed to be under control via careful mulching, my growing of flowers of all types to attract predator bugs and the nearby presence of both blue bird and bat boxes. Both eat only insects, and while they may dine on those I want, they eat almost all of what I don’t.
    My problem is animal: deer, Chester the groundhog, coons at corn flavor peaks and various field rats that nibble on potatoes.
    Oh, back to potatoes. Once talked to a former potato farmer from fabled Idaho. He told me that once his workers over-applied insecticide to the field, and it was so toxic that that patch had to be abandoned for two years before they could go back in, probably with potato sack haz-mat suits. I don’t know if it’s true, but the image stuck and so am I with a few bugs.

  • Reply
    Dan Myshrall
    May 11, 2011 at 5:44 am

    I put a half bar of Fels Naptha in a quart mason jar full of hot water. When it has dissolved, put a few tablespoons of the mixture in a gallon sprayer and fill w/water. Homemade insecticidal soap. It’s handy, since we’ve always got Fels around for making laundry soap.

  • Reply
    Dee from Tennessee
    May 11, 2011 at 4:33 am

    Tipper , we live in town and have an “ideal spot” on our tiny, tiny miniscule lot to have a nice lil raised bed….BUT due to the seventy-eleven thousand squirrels,several opossums and occasional groundhogs…..there is no way. If we could just grow tomatoes and red bell peppers, we would be thrilled. But we have an entire army of squirrels –sigh. And to think I wouldn’t eat tomatoes and peppers when my grandparents grew them by the mile-long rows.

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