Organic Pest Control


Summer’s here! Okay so, maybe not quite. But it’s hot outside, and gardens are going strong…. And they’re full of bugs.
What’s the organically minded gardener to do? The last thing we want is to spray pesticides that make the produce unfit to eat.

Here are a few of our summer bug solutions:

Mayapple Tea– its providential I think, that mayapple growth coincides with the onset of potato bugs.

When I was a kid we grew a very large potato patch ( we do love potatoes!) and for years Dad would walk between the rows every morning and squish potato bugs. Fortunately for him, someone – I don’t remember who – told him to try spraying the potato plants with mayapple tea. Much to our joy, it worked!

What you do is find some mayapple, which grows in shady areas like the edge of the woods, and pull it up roots and all. After you knock the dirt off the roots, stuff it into a big pot and pour hot water over it and let it steep for a while. Once it’s cooled you can strain it and spray it on with a pump sprayer, or if you’re not that fancy you can use a watering can.

Milk– sounds bizarre doesn’t it? We decided to try spraying diluted milk for bug control after reading an article in acres USA a few years back. Worked like a charm! We’ve been very impressed by how well milk repels squash bugs and cucumber beetles in particular. As a bonus, the sugar in the milk feeds the microbes in your soil.

We also use whey (leftover from cheese making) and that seems to work as well.

A refrigerator full of milk thanks to Maya

Cinnamon is an excellent ant repellent. They hate the stuff. If you’re having trouble with ants I your garden, try sprinkling cinnamon around plant bases. Cinnamon is also great for repelling ants in other areas too of course.

Spraying ants with soapy water kills them. Not to sound… Evil or anything, but spraying intruding ants with soapy water is very satisfying. We have a huge ant problem around/in our house. We have to be very careful to not leave anything tasty out or they come out in droves. If that happens, soapy water stops them in their tracks. Sprinkling that backs of the cabinets with cinnamon as a barrier is also very affective for avoid that problem. 

Being the experimental type, Gabriel and I are always on the lookout for new bug control ideas. What are yours?


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  1. Using the soap water on squash bugs works great. You just give them a quick little spray and it takes them a minute or two and then they are dead.

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