Thursday, May 7, 2009

Natural Garden Bug Spray

"Aphids be gone!! Poof! Away with you! Quit eating my broccoli, greens, okra, and tomatoes, you greedy little bastards!!!"

That is what I was chanting (sobbing, really) in the garden a few days ago. I swear, between the hot Florida heat and the damn bugs there just ain't a way to keep a garden alive this year. I discovered a nifty recipe you can whip up in your kitchen that'll make those hungry critters scatter.

Here's what you need:

1 empty spray bottle (16oz) (I use an empty 409 Window Cleaner bottle.)
6-8 fresh cloves of raw garlic
1 cup plain vegetable oil
3 drops of dish soap
garlic press
food processor

  1. Take a knife and chop off the ends of each garlic clove. Squeeze each one in the garlic press. Put the minced garlic into the food processor. Toss the skins that are left in the garlic press into the trash.
  2. Pour the vegetable oil into the food process with the minced garlic. Put the lid on and whip the heck out of the mixture. When you're done it'll look like a pale yellow.... soup. The garlic should almost invisible.
  3. Pour 2 tablespoons of this mixture into the empty sprayer bottle. Add the 3 drops of dish soap.
  4. Fill the bottle nearly full with water. Shake. And go kill some bugs!
Now technically you don't HAVE to use the garlic press, this just allows the garlic to be whipped into the nearly microscopic size necessary in the food processor to bind with the oil. A food processor/blender is a must, though. There's no way to do this by hand.

The rest of the garlic-oil can be poured into a container and kept in the fridge. Just dip out what you need for your next bug killing spree whenever you need it. I find that an empty water bottle does great for that. Just make sure you scribble "Garlic! Don't Drink!" on it otherwise you'll gag when you take a swig of it at 2am by accident thinking it was lemonade.

I don't think that this garlic-oil actually kills aphids. But it definitely makes them vacate the premises. Make sure you're spraying the underside of the leaves AND that the ground is lightly covered. Some aphids go to ground when threatened. Don't give them a place to hide. Spray the plant and the surrounding soil.

If you have aphids real bad (like I did) you'll notice that the ants are having a real picnic in your plants. They eat aphids, fyi. You spray this stuff on the ants and they aren't going to be happy either. In my garden on the second day ninety percent of the aphids and the ants were gone.

Lastly, be diligent about using this stuff. You may have to spray your plants every day for a while until the aphids get the hint. The garlic scent doesn't linger. It's not even noticeable to human noses after 5 minutes.

For those animal lovers out there; if your indoor cat is prone to chewing on your houseplants this spray works well as a deterrent. Cats hate the smell of garlic.

<---Meet Killer Kitty, the plant-eating-fiend-pain-in-the-butt. He is a reformed ex-plant chomper.

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