For the home gardener, pests such as insects and rodents can destroy a summer crop. Traditional pest-control methods involve harsh chemicals and often dangerous pesticides. Aside from being toxic to humans, these can harm beneficial species, pollute the surrounding soil and damage fruits and foliage. Avoid the dangers of commercial pest control methods by mixing your own home remedies for pest control.
Just as your immune system is strong and effective when you take good care of yourself, healthy, well-tended fruit trees are capable of resisting damage from most pests. Although fruit trees grow and thrive all over the world without human intervention, your tree will benefit from a bit of basic tending: follow pruning recommendations, supply adequate weekly water--especially during a drought--and keep the surrounding area clear of resource competitors.
For the best results, choose the right time of year to spray. For example, Japanese beetles emerge as adults during late spring and early summer, so plants should be sprayed with a repellent as soon as you see the first adult beetle. Never use home remedy sprays during pollination, because they will repel all insects, including the beneficial bumble bee.
Any insecticide that kills destructive insects will also kill the beneficial ones, so only spray trees that need it. To protect your skin and eyes, wear gloves, eye protection and use a spray bottle or hand-held insecticide sprayer.
Most home remedy sprays have common ingredients, which repel insects and rodents alike. The most popular bases for sprays are crushed garlic, hot peppers--including jalapeños, chilies and cayenne--and wood oil soap.
The scent of garlic is well known as an insect repellent and often detours rodents, although a particularly hungry rabbit may ignore the scent in favor of a meal. The odor of hot peppers is offensive, and, more importantly, the flavor makes your fruit tree entirely unappetizing. Wood oil soap--or any thick, viscous soap--tastes terrible to animals, keeps the mixture on the tree and is an excellent insecticide, especially when sprayed directly on the pest. The thick liquid coats the insect's body, leaving it unable to fly, and, hopefully, suffocating it.
This recipe, provided by The Gardener's Rake blog, is organic, safe and effective. Blend four cloves of garlic, one onion and one hot pepper until it forms a paste. Mix with 1 quart of warm water and steep for at least two hours. Strain the mixture through a cheesecloth, mesh-strainer or nylons to remove any particles. Fill a bucket or hand-sprayer with 1 gallon of water and mix in the strained liquid, 1 tsp. wood oil soap and 1 tsp. vegetable oil.
Make an easy, all-purpose insect killer with 1 tsp. vegetable oil and 1 tsp. dish soap (Ivory works best) mixed in a quart of water. Please note that these insecticides don't work as well on hard-bodied insects such as beetles.
If your fruit tree also suffers from fungus, add 2 tbsp. baking powder to the spray. If your tree's only problem is fungus, use a plain mixture of baking powder and water every few days.
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