Expert Author Kimberley Pacholko

A collection of natural and homemade remedies for the organic gardening enthusiast.

Spraying guidelines:

o Water the plant first (if it is dry) before spraying.
o Never mix a chemical fungicide or pesticide with any of these homemade treatments, wait at least 10 days.
o It is crucial to spray all pest controls and fertilizers very early in the morning or late in the evening.
o Spray only when the temperature will remain below 85 degrees F for several hours after you spray.
o Spray both sides of the leaves.
o Test a small area of a plant first. Leave it for a couple of days to determine whether it is safe for the whole plant.

Attract beneficial insects: (also kills slugs)

o 2 tbsp/25ml brewers yeast
o ¼ cup/50ml sugar
o 1 tsp/5 ml honey
o 1/3 cup/75 ml warm water

Mix together all ingredients. Dilute 1 tbsp/15ml to 2 cups water; spray on plants in spring and early summer to attract beneficial bugs. (Filling a small bowel or container with this mixture and then burring it up to its rim will also kill slugs)

Bordeaux mixture: (primarily a fungicide but it also repels insects such as flea beetles and leafhoppers)

Using a plastic bucket, dissolve 3 ounces of copper sulphate (bluestone) in one gallon of water. Then slowly add 5 ounces of hydrate line, stirring thoroughly with each addition. The resulting mixture is ready to use as a spray or as a drench without further dilution. After using this mixture, wash your equipment well and store it in a glass or plastic container; it is very corrosive to metals. Also be careful when handling the hydrated lime because it is very caustic.

Cornell University Formula: (fungicide, miticide, or pesticide)

Basic ingredients:

o 2 tablespoons fine horticultural oil
o 1 tablespoon mild liquid dish soap (not detergent)
o 1 heaping tablespoon baking soda
o 1 gallon (4.5L) of water

Optional ingredients:

o 1 tablespoon or the equivalent of 8-8-8 fish emulsion/liquid seaweed (make sure your product does not contain sulfur)
o 5-7 droplets of a liquid plant vitamin mixture
o Bacillus thuringiensis var. Kurstaki (Bt), at the recommended concentration (controls caterpillars)
*(You can apply this spray ever 2 weeks but you will probably find you only need to spray once a month.)

*(Try to use this spray solution before disease symptoms develop or as soon as you notice a problem.)

Insecticidal soap: (Aphids, mites and white flies)

o 1 cup of vegetable oil
o 1 tablespoon mild dish soap

mix 1-2 teaspoons of this oil/soap mixture with 1 cup of water(note: Homemade sprays have a slightly greater risk of burning leaves so always test this spray on a few leaves first. If no damage has occurred after a day or two go ahead and spray the entire plant.)

Petunias: (toxic to tobacco hornworm, Colorado potato beetle, some caterpillars)

Make a tea of chopped up petunia leaves steeped in boiling water.

Baking soda: (good for powdery mildew)

o 1 teaspoon baking powder
o 1 L water
o A few drops of mild liquid dish soap

(Put the ingredients into a spray bottle and mist directly onto the plant leaves, both sides.)

Horsetail: (good for powdery mildew)

o 1 cup chopped horsetail (horsetail is a plant)
o 1 L water

Mix together and boil for 20 minutes. Cool; strain. Spray on plants or use it as a soil drench to prevent damping off.

Garlic: (Insecticide and fungicide)
o 5-10 cloves garlic
o ½ L water

Mix in a blender, strain and spray on plants.

Bug Juice: (insecticide)

o ½ cup of a specific pest and mash well
o Mix with 2 cups water; and strain

Mix ¼ cup of this bug juice with a few drops of soap and 2 cups of water. Spray on plant surfaces. (Use non-food utensils and wear plastic gloves.)

Hot-pepper spray:(insecticide)

o Blend ½ cup of hot peppers with
o 2 cups of water

Using a blender combine the peppers and water, blend then strain. Spray on plant surfaces. CAUTION: hot peppers burn skin and eyes. (use of gloves and protective eye wear recommended.)

Dormant oils: (over wintering stages of mites, scales, aphids, and other insects.)

(Dormant oils work by basically suffocating the insect). Spray on dormant orchards and ornamental plants to control overwintering stages of mites, scales, aphids, and other insects. Temperature must be above 40 degrees F. (Caution: some plants are sensitive to this oil, like Japanese maples and blue spruce. Test an area on a plant first, and remember to spray before the plant brakes out in leaf.

Summer oils: (Use to control aphids, spider mites, scale, psylla, mealy bugs, and some caterpillars.)

(Summer oils are lighter than dormant oils. They also have fewer impurities, making them safer for your plants.)

Note: vegetable oil provides similar control.
o 1 cup cooking oil
o 1 tablespoon mild liquid dish soap
o 1 cup water

Elemental Sulfur: (Fungicide)

Sprayed or dusted on plants to help prevent many types of fungal diseases. Use this as a last resort as it can also harm beneficial insects, soil microorganisms and the plants themselves. (I tend to save this treatment for my prize roses.)

Copper: (Fungicide)

Sprayed or dusted on plants to help control many types of fungal diseases. Bordeaux mixture is a strong fungicide use only as a last resort and with great care. It is also harmful to beneficial insects and soil microorganisms. It is considered very toxic to humans.

Bleach: (soil fungi)

o Mix 3 tablespoons/50 ml liquid house bleach
o 1 gal/4 L water
Applied as a soil drench it may help to get rid of fungi. I rather reluctantly tried this with an entire hedge of honey suckle. It really did seem to help.

Beneficial nematodes: (grubs, leather jackets and other soft bodied insects)

*(Follow the manufactures instructions for application and follow up care…you will usually have to keep the soil continuously moist for approximately 3 days after application.)

*(Also be sure to read the package to find out which insects that particular product targets….there are different nematodes and each one targets different insects.)

Neem Oil Products: (insecticide, fungicide and bacteria)

(Is a broad-spectrum insect poison, repellent, and feeding deterrent. It also stops or disrupts insect growth and sterilizes some species. It appears to be easy on beneficials and of low toxicity to mammals.)

Dilute and apply as per manufactures instructions. (Full spectrum Neem oil products will offer some systemic action.

Pyrethrins: (insecticide)

De-rived from the flowers of pyrethrum daisies. It attacks an insects central nervous system, providing rapid knockdown…but at low doses insects may detoxify themselves. The addition of synthetic synergists, like piperonyl butoxide (PBO), prevents insects from detoxifying insecticides. But they may be toxic in and of themselves so you may wish to avoid them.

Bacillus thuringiensis: (Bt) (caterpillars)

Is a crystalline toxin produced by bacteria and sold as a liquid spray or as a dust. When ingested by a caterpillar, this toxin affects its digestive tract, causing it to quit feeding and die in a few days. Be careful when spraying and wear a mask.

Diatomaceous earth: (DE) (slugs and other soft bodied insects)

Is a non-toxic mineral product, mined from fossilized shell remains of an algae known as diatoms. This powder has microscopic, sharp edges that pierce soft bodied insects and cause them to dehydrate. Dust plants with the powder preferably after a rain or you can mix 1 ounce of DE with ¼ teaspoon of liquid dish soap and a gallon/4.5 L and spray it on your plants. It also harm to earth worms and birds so use as a last resort.

Corn Gluten Meal: (Lawn weeds like dandelions)

Corn meal Gluten can be applied with your average fertilizer spreader. It acts to basically suffocate the little weed seeds so that they cannot germinate. Apply in spring before the weeds have germinated. Do not sow new lawn seed with-in 6weeks of this application as it will also prevent lawn seeds from germinating. I prefer to treat my weeds in spring and then over seed early to mid autumn.

Sabadilla: Nicotine:

(Try to avoid these powerful yet natural remedies due to their potentially harmful effects.)

Kimberley Pacholko is a Certified Staging Consultant, Interior Decorator, Professional Gardener, Garden Designer and owner of White Swan Properties. For more information call (905)-725-7926. Web:

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