Fighting Pests in the Garden -- With Items From Your Kitchen

Protect your garden from summertime enemies

Are you tired of running to your local garden center every time one of your plants is overtaken by a new fungus or infested by insects? Are you sick of spending those extra dollars on a concoction that you aren't even sure is effective? Here's a list of old-fashioned homemade remedies; some have been passed on from other gardeners, some handed down through generations and some I've collected on my own.

Practically all of the ingredients used in these homemade recipes can be retrieved from you kitchen or medicine cabinets at home.

  • Baking Soda
  • Beer
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Hot Jalapeno Peppers
  • Castor Oil
  • Peppermint Oil and Grits
  • Vinegar (and Lemon Juice)
  • Buttermilk
  • Garlic
  • Irish Spring Soap
  • Sunlight Dishwashing Liquid
  • Rubbing Alcohol


Baking soda can be used to ward off black spot, a terrible fungus that usually hits roses by late spring.

What you'll need:

  • 1 tablespoon of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of dishwashing detergent
  • 1 gallon of water

Mix together and spray on roses early in the morning once a week until disease has disappeared.


Beer is an old-time favorite for getting rid of slugs and snails.

Place the beer (it doesn't matter what brand) in either shallow pans or cut down some paper cups to about 1 inch tall. Place them in a flat spot in the garden. The pests will crawl into the pans or cups.


Aphids are very tiny insects that suck the sap from a plant ultimately weakening it. If your leaves look curled and deformed, look under the leaves closely and you may find a colony of aphids cavorting.

What you'll need to get rid of them:

  • 1 cup of vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon of dishwashing liquid

    Take 1 tablespoon of this oil and dish liquid concoction; mix it with 1 cup of water

Spray on leaves of aphids


A listener of my radio show told me that after trying everything to get rid of moles, gophers and groundhogs, he planted jalapeno peppers within 4 inches of where these rodents were invading. Voila, they ran for cover after taking a test of these hot veggies.

I am going to try this advice but will divide the hot peppers in half when I plant them. I think he is on the right track because hot pepper spray (a prepared organic spray) is sold in garden centers as a way of getting rid of rabbits, squirrels, moles, voles and groundhogs.


Castor oil concoctions are sold in garden centers as a solution to repel groundhogs and deer. I would be tempted to go to a pharmacy or health food store and just buy myself a bottle of castor oil, dilute with water and then spray on affected areas to see if it works before I invested in an expensive pest repellent.

This combination is a good deterrent for ants that invade your garden or home. You can either saturate cotton balls with peppermint oil or mix in a spray bottle with water and apply where needed. Grits sprinkled in the garden are also supposed to be an effective way to kill off ants.

Vinegar has become the new organic solution for killing off weeds. Some people say that they are able to kill off weeds by just spraying household vinegar on the weeds. Others say that you need to buy a higher concentration of vinegar in order for it to be effective. I would check one of the bottled organic vinegar solutions at your garden center to see what concentration of vinegar they are using.

It wouldn't hurt to add lemon juice to your homemade weed-killing formula either. Word has it that the combo of vinegar and lemon juice is a real weed killer.


So you think that buttermilk is just a method for getting moss to grow? Well, think again. For those pesky mites -- the teeny tiny, reddish insects that you can barely see with the naked eye, but that can do tremendous damage to a plant, causing yellow foliage and twisted leaf tips -- here is a homemade formula that is sure to solve your problem.

Here's what you'll need:

  • 1/2 cup of buttermilk
  • 4 cups of wheat flour
  • 5 gallons of water.

Mix. Then strain this mixture through cheesecloth. Spray it onto the diseased plants. It will kill all of the mites and their eggs.


Want to keep cats and dogs out of the garden? Try this mixture:

  • Chopped garlic bulbs
  • 1 tablespoon of cayenne pepper steeped in 1 quart of water

Mix the two ingredients.

Add 1 teaspoon of liquid dishwashing soap to help the mixture stick to the plant. Strain the portion that you are going to use and spray onto the plant leaves. The remainder of this formula can stay fresh in the fridge for several weeks.

Cut up a bar of Irish Spring Soap. Cut the end of an old pair of panty hose. Put the piece of soap in the panty hose and tie into the trees and bushes where the deer have done damage.

Before you know it, the deer will be gone. They can't stand the smell of Irish Spring.

Quite a few listeners from my radio show swear that Sunlight Dishwashing Liquid is the one remedy that works 100 percent of the time on mites. I would suggest using 1 tablespoon of the dishwashing liquid with 1 gallon of water.

I will often go to my medicine cabinet and get out the rubbing alcohol to treat plants infested by spider mites, aphids, slugs and whiteflies. After a few applications of rubbing alcohol to the affected areas using cotton balls, you will have successfully eliminated these pests.

Rubbing alcohol is a must-have for the garden.

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