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Managing pests and diseases in your garden using natural methods

Insects are very harmful to gardens. They chew, bite and suck on plants causing damage to the leaves, stems and roots which overall decrease the photosynthetic rate inhibiting growth and development of a plant.  In addition, they are carriers to many plant diseases. Some common insect pests that we face are thrips (Thysanoptera), whiteflies (Aleyrodidae), Ants (Formicidae), mealybugs (Pseudococcidae) and scales (Coccoidea). We can control these pests by using simple tricks and ingredients that is organic and very effective. Three popular sprays are:

  1. Garlic and Pepper Spray—In a pot, simmer two heads of garlic (peel on) and three whole hot peppers (Scorpion/Moruga red or yellow) in one cup of water for five minutes just until the water is warm. Turn off the burner and allow the garlic and peppers to diffuse for 24-48 hours. Strain the mixture and add two tablespoons of soap or liquid detergent and four cups of water for dilution.  Pour into a spray can/spray bottle and use generously on your plants. The potency of the ingredients makes this mixture excellent for control of whiteflies, thrips and ants. This can be stored for one week.
  2. Basic Oil Spray—Mix two cups of vegetable oil with to tablespoons of soap, cover and shake thoroughly. Add three tablespoons of this mixture to one litre of water in a spray can/ bottle and spray directly onto the surface of ants. The oil coat will suffocate the insect pest, blocking their pores making it difficult for them to breathe. This mixture is ideal for ants, mealy bugs and scales and can be stored for up to one month.
  3. Neem Spray – Neem is very popular for its medicinal properties. In pest and disease control, neem is very efficient for insect and fungal problems. Mix two tablespoons of neem oil, one teaspoon of peppermint oil and one teaspoon of rosemary oil with one gallon of water. Shake thoroughly, pour into a spray can/spray bottle and use generously on your plants. Another version is to add two tablespoons of neem oil to one tablespoon of liquid soap to one gallon of water, shake and apply. Both mixtures can be stored for up to one month.


In addition to these sprays, for further pest control, marigolds (Tagetes), culantro or ‘chadon beni’ (Eryngium foetidum) and neem tree (Azadirachta indica) also possess high insect-repellant properties which can be integrated into your garden. I hope you try these at home!


Send questions to rayannaboodram@hotmail.com