Natural Pest Control for Your Garden

Growing healthy vegetables and vigorous flowers and shrubs can be a challenge, especially when battling bugs and weeds. Here are some of my favorite options for battling garden pests.

Amanda Thomas
4-minute read
Episode #116

3. Is Powdery Mildew Making an Unwanted Appearance?

My baking soda spray is a tried-and-true method for preventing powdery mildew when applied weekly. Mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda, 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, 1 tablespoon of dish soap, and 1 gallon of water. Add this mixture to a spray bottle, or a garden sprayer for easier application, and spray it onto the foliage of susceptible plants. The baking soda disrupts fungal spores, preventing them from germinating. The oil and soap help the mixture stick to plant leaves. This spray is effective on a variety of fungal issues.

Another solution you can use on powdery mildew is a mix of equal parts milk and water, sprayed on the infected plants. Three treatments, each a week apart, should control the disease.

4. Are Mealy Bugs Crashing Your Garden Party?

Give this mixture a try and say goodbye to uninvited mites and aphids. Mix 1 tablespoon of canola oil, a few drops of Ivory soap, and a quart of water in a spray bottle. Spray the affected plants both from the top down and from below up, making sure to get both sides of the affected plants. The oil smothers the insects.

When it comes to garden pests and weeds, one solution can combat both: Compost! Whether you're a farmer or an apartment dweller with a fire escape farm, you need to be making this free form of fertilizer. Mulching and top-dressing your soil with compost or natural fertilizer is the best way to develop strong, vigorous plants. This pest-resisting “black gold” not only adds nutrients to your soil but also improves soil structure -- it increases moisture retention and helps beneficial microbes multiply. If you want to start composting but are unsure how to get started, check out this link at eartheasy.com or visit your local nursery and ask a garden expert for help.

Unfortunately, even with composting, some weeds are just inevitable. I’ve got a few handy remedies for dealing with those unwanted buggers:

5. Try Vinegar!

You know I love using vinegar around the house, but did you know it works for weeds, as well? Be careful, though. Vinegar can also kill the plants you want to grow. Try using a foam paintbrush to brush vinegar onto the leaves of weeds you're trying to kill. This prevents the vinegar from getting onto other plants and ensures that the entire leaf surface is coated.