With almost any garden pest control is always an issue to plan for. I’d like to stop for a moment before I continue on to talk about chemical pesticides. I have in the past tried my hand at chemical pesticides with varying results, but I do not recommend them. Aside from the fact that it is a chore to wash the produce which is often ineffective at best, contact with the chemicals is dangerous. I want to stress that it’s not possible dangerous, or dangerous for immunocompromised people, but it is flat out dangerous, even for healthy individuals. All you have to do is read the warning labels, they’re often staggering. Most of the outdoor pesticides sold in stores assume you realize and warn on their labels that heavy duty gear is required when administering them. Gear like industrial breathing masks, chemical resistant glovesand no exposed skin. They may be required by law to warn you on their labels, but those warnings are usually fine print you have to sift for. Completely aside from your personal health risks when using these hazardous materials, there is a risk of these chemicals running off and find their way into our water. Please avoid using them whenever possible.
There are two effective methods I have used in the past for pest control. One method is good for preventing bugs (and some animals) from coming near your crops. The other is ideal for killing the bugs that do make it to your crops.
Garlic & Pepper Spray
Pepper spray is pretty much what it sounds like, a mix of the juice of liquefied hot peppers, garlic, onions and water sprayed directly onto plants. The taste and scent is extremely off putting to most (but not all) bugs and several animals as well. This is not something you can purchase commercially, but it is easy to make at home. Here is the recipe:
In a blender liquify one garlic bulb, one small onion, and 3-4 different hot peppers. Using a variety of peppers is more likely to hit harder. Use the hottest peppers you can find and take precaution when handling them as they can burn skin. Drain the mixture through a fine mesh colander or cheesecloth, add a tablespoon of liquid dish soap to the strained liquid and mix well.
Add 1 part mixture to 3 parts water to a spray bottle. Spray your plants thoroughly, including leaf undersides again taking precautions as the liquid can burn skin and if inhaled can possibly burn your breathing passages. Spraying down wind or a paper breathing mask should take care of this issue.
The mixture can be stored for a week in the fridge or long term in the freezer. When I make this mixture, I leave out the soap and water and freeze small amounts of the concentrated pepper mix in zip lock bags, thawing and mixing them as needed.
Diatomaceous earthis a fine white powder that is comprised of the fossilized remains of marine phytoplankton. It is not poisonous to humans or animals, in fact food grade DE can be eaten and is even present in some grain based foods we eat. However thankfully for your garden DE is a death sentence for bugs. DE is so effective it is used commercially to keep bugs from eating grains.