Control Pests In Your Garden Organically With Essential Oils

Control Pests In Your Garden Organically With Essential Oils

If you use essential oils in your home, you can also use them to rid your garden of unwanted pests that will try to steal your harvest.

 

At least, that’s what we do.

 

Nothing is more frustrating than to spend lots of time and energy trying to grow cabbages than to go out to your garden….only to find leaves full of holes and sprinkled with tiny green cabbage looper eggs. Grrr…..

 

Oils are great to use in your garden because they’re organic, all-natural, and they WORK.

 

Particularly if you make a homemade insecticidal soap, you only need a drop or two – so they’re also economical.

 

Most basic essential oils cost $0.08 a drop, so you can spend a lot of money on commercial organic pest control….or you can save a few bucks and make them yourself.

 

In this article, I’m going to show you how to use essential oils to deter and get rid of bugs, freeloading insects, and vegetable munchers in your garden.

 

A Word About Purity

Before we get started, let’s talk about purity for a minute. Everyone has their own favorite brand of oils – so we won’t cover particular brands in this article.

 

However, I advise buying from the manufacturer directly, and not from a 3rd party source like Amazon. It’s very, very easy to pop the top off oils and replace them with an inferior essential oil – or something that doesn’t even resemble an oil, but smells like the real deal.

 

The last thing you want is to spend a lot of time and effort growing your garden, only to dump a bunch of toxins on them unwittingly.

 

Bottom line: Buy from a trusted source, just be sure the oil is pure, and the oil in the bottle is as advertised.

 

Ok, moving on….

 

How Do You Know Which Essential Oil To Use?

If you’re new to oils, or aren’t sure which one will most benefit your garden, determine which pests are bothering your garden.

 

Then, using the chart below, figure out which oil will best repel them.

 

If more than one pest threatens your plant, or in insect AND a fungus are causing trouble, then it’s perfectly fine to add more than one oil to water, to a rag, or to a container.

 

 

What Are The Go-to Oils?

There are a few essential oils that are go-to oils that will work against MOST garden pests. They interfere with your pesky visitor’s biological systems (each oil effects a different part of the insect’s body), causing them to leave the scene to save their lives.

 

Orange essential oil

If you want a go-to oil for killing insects, then orange is a good choice, since it works to destroy the exoskeletons of bugs.

 

Cedarwood essential oil

A second option is cedarwood, which is believed to interfere with their neurological capabilities.

 

Peppermint Essential Oil

If you don’t yet have pests in your garden or just want to deter them, then peppermint oil is a good option. It’s strong smelling, and garden pests will turn around and find an easier target for a snack.

 

Pest Repelled By
Ants Peppermint, Spearmint, Wild Orange, Cedarwood
Aphids Peppermint, Spearmint, Cedarwood, Wild Orange
Beetles Peppermint, Thyme, Wild Orange, Cedarwood
Caterpillars Rosemary, Cedarwood
Cutworms Thyme, Clary Sage, Cedarwood
Fleas Lavender, Lemongrass, Peppermint, Wild Orange, Rosemary, Cedarwood
Fungus (e.g. Powdery Mildew) Melaleuca, Wild Orange
Lice Peppermint, Spearmint, Cedarwood
Rabbits, Mice Peppermint
Slugs/Snails Cedarwood, Douglas Fir, Peppermint
Squash Bugs Peppermint, Wild Orange, Cedarwood

 

 

Insecticidal Soap

Commercial insecticidal soaps work by dissolving the hard external bodies of insects, and you can make your own at home with liquid castile soap and orange essential oil.

 

These soaps are effective against aphids, thrips, mites, immature leafhoppers, and whiteflies.  Just remember that insecticidal soap is only effective if they come in contact with the insects while the soap is still liquid; it won’t work after it dries on the plants.

 

To make your own, combine 5 tablespoons of pure castile liquid soap to 2 quarts of water. Add 5-6 drops of orange and cedarwood essential oils. Combine thoroughly and use immediately.

 

9 Essential Oils To Repel Insects Naturally (And Get Your Yard Back)

9 Essential Oils To Repel Insects Naturally (And Get Your Yard Back)

It’s summer…and it’s buggy. This time of year, the heat and humidity are bad enough, and I break out my go-to essential oils to repel insects when we’re outside.

 

(This article is based on my new book Organic By Choice: The (Secret) Rebel’s Guide To Backyard Gardening. Grab it on Amazon here!)

 

I have another recipe where you can use herbs, but I’ve found oils work better because they’re concentrated plants in a bottle – so much more powerful than just the herbs themselves when it comes to insects.

 

Because they’re weaker than oils, if you spray yourself with an herbal solution, it will dissipate faster – so you’ll need to spray yourself again and again. With oils, I found we only need to do it once or twice while outside.

 

In this article, we’re going to talk about recipes you can make at home that you can use on yourself and your family to keep bugs at bay.

 

The bugs we’ll discuss are:

 

  • Ants
  • Flies
  • Wasps/Hornets
  • Mosquitoes
  • Ticks

The Go-To Essential Oil For Killing Insects

Yes, there is a single one you can depend on (although there’s more you’ll want to use). Orange essential oil kills insects because it destroys their exoskeletons. In any recipe you make yourself, be sure it includes orange essential oils.

 

A word of note: Citrus essential oils, in large quantities, can harm your cats because it interferes with their liver. (It’s fine with other animals.) If your kitties hang out outside a lot, then don’t spray orange unless you can be sure your kitties will not be outside for 24-48 hours. Use any of the other alternative oils we talk about in this article, and just make sure there’s good circulation.

 

Ants

I hate these buggers. They’re arrogant insects, thinking they can get into whatever sugar I leave on the counter and invading my home whenever suits them….but there is hope.

 

The BEST I’ve found to repel ants is cinnamon oil.

 

Because it’s so strong, it interferes with their neuroreceptors and they can’t send signals (by pheromones) back to their nest to come grab whatever goody they’ve happened upon. It unnerves them, and they leave the scene rapidly.

 

It’s satisfying to watch the insects scurry away.

 

You can apply cinnamon directly to the area you want the ants to leave, without dilution, or you can dilute 10 drops in 8 oz of water or rubbing alcohol. Shake before use, and spray away.

 

If you plan to spray it directly ON the ants, also mix 10 drops of orange essential oil into the spray bottle. (If you’re allergic to cinnamon oil, you can use any of the oils listed above as an alternative).

 

If you plan to spray it on yourself, dilute it with carrier oils like coconut or sweet almond, or dilute with water or alcohol. Cinnamon is a “hot” oil, meaning on people with sensitive skin or children, it can cause skin irritation. Be safe.

 

Flies

I hate flies even more than ants. They’re just as annoying insects, except they ACTIVELY try to get in your face.

 

I have a great article with my favorite recipe to get rid of flies with essential oils here. It’s the best recipe I’ve found, and it actually works. It includes lemongrass and eucalyptus (which have many more uses than fly spray, by the way).

 

Wasps/Hornets

 

  • Mint
  • Eucalyptus
  • Citronella

Mix 8 drops of any of the above oils with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil or any other oil you love. Rub it on your body to keep the suckers away.

 

In this article, I show you how to eliminate wasp nests with liquid castile soap – You can also add the above oils along with orange to the castile soap mixture to kill ‘em dead.

 

Word of warning: You don’t want to use the orange essential oils on your body to repel wasps  – it will ATTRACT them since it smells sweet (wasps are attracted to sweet smells), and it can trigger photosensitivity (potentially causing some nasty burns) if you plan to remain outdoors.

 

(Orange is otherwise VERY safe to use – just avoid it on areas that will be uncovered if you plan to be out in the sun for a while.)

 

Mosquitoes

Summertime is mosquito time on our farm. With all the poop we have, the rotten insects LOVE to build nests and breed….and freeload off our livestock.

 

Whenever we go outside, I grab my purple spray bottle containing the following oils (in equal parts, mixed with 8 oz of water). As a bonus, we all smell better.

 

Citronella : Everyone knows that citronella repels mosquitoes, and it’s my go-to oil to repel ‘em. You can mix it (in a roller bottle) with any of the oils we discuss below for a more powerful solution that’s convenient to put on.

 

Eucalyptus: Eucalyptus oil has been used since the 1940s to repel mosquitoes, and is approved by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as an effective ingredient in mosquito repellent.

 

Lavender: Lavender essential oil is great for relaxing and smelling good, but did you also know it can repel mosquitoes? Lavender can also be used to support healthy skin!

 

Ticks

Ahh…ticks. The lovely buggers that gave me lyme disease about 10 years ago. That was not fun…lots of yogurt, since I couldn’t eat anything else while I recovered.

 

These days, our chickens do a pretty good job of keeping the population down (yet another bonus to keeping a backyard flock), but if you plan to go camping or take a walk in the woods, here’s some essential oils you can put in a roller bottle or a spray bottle (along with water or alcohol – rubbing alcohol stays on longer) to repel the dirty insects.

 

You can mix and match 8 drops of oil with 8 oz of water or alcohol:

 

  • Rosemary
  • Lemongrass
  • Cedar (cedarwood oils)
  • Peppermint
  • Thyme
  • Eucalyptus

 

The CDC has even said that the above are safe essential oils to repel insects (specifically ticks!)

Get Rid Of Wasps Naturally and Practically For Free!

Get Rid Of Wasps Naturally and Practically For Free!

If your organic garden has been invaded by wasps, chances are you’re probably wondering how to get rid of wasps naturally.

 

While they make great pollinators, unfortunately, if wasps have decided you’re invading their territory, you might be getting stung – which can put a damper on any fun garden activities very quickly.

 

Similarly, wasp nests are no fun – and they can creep up in the smallest places we wouldn’t expect (we’ve found them in chicken coops – no fun for you OR your chickens, believe me!).

 

(This article is based off my #1 Amazon Bestselling book, Organic By Choice: The (Secret) Rebel’s Guide To Backyard Gardening. Get your copy here).

Get rid of wasps naturally with these organic tips!

 

You CAN go for the stuff you buy at your local big box store – but we personally try to avoid those products, and have gotten rid of them in our house. They’re full of chemicals that neither our children or our animals need to inhale (in fact, for chickens, with the delicate upper respiratory systems, commercial insecticides can cause a lot of damage or even death in your flock).

 

To preserve the effort you’ve put out keeping your backyard organic and your family healthy, you’ll want to get rid of wasps naturally and ALSO stop wasps from coming back so you can enjoy your backyard once again.

 

Luckily, these organic options also happen to be pretty cheap, and you can create an effective natural insecticide for just pennies.

 

Create a wasp trap…naturally

 

If you’re like us, you probably have some soda bottles hanging around your house. To create a trap that’ll get rid of wasps naturally, cut the top 1/3rd of the soda bottle (also be sure to remove any wrap – if the bottle is reflecting light, it’s less attractive to wasps).

 

Leaving the screw cap off, turn the cut piece upside down and place it back inside the remainder of the bottle.

 

Pour apple juice into 1/2 the bottle – wasps will be attracted to the juice and enter the trap, but won’t be able to leave. Eventually, they will get caught in the juice and die.

 

You’ll want to place the trap away from areas of the garden you visit frequently to reduce your chances of crossing paths with a bunch of angry wasps (or worse – you might tip it over, and find yourself surrounded by a swarm with your name on it).

 

Empty the bottle when it’s full of dead wasps, or sooner if it starts to smell (if you’re pregnant and sensitive to smells, this is a “must do” and I suggest having your spouse or partner do it for you).

 

How To Get Rid Of Wasps Nests Naturally

 

If picking off wasps one by one isn’t for you, then you’ll want to turn to getting rid of the entire nest. Chances are you WON’T get all the wasps quickly with the soda bottle trick – but you CAN get rid of wasps in your backyard by knocking out the entire nest.

 

For this all natural solution, you’ll need pure liquid castile soap (I like this brand) and a hose-end sprayer like this one. Pour the soap into the sprayer until it’s ½ full, and attach to your favorite garden hose.

 

Turn the water on, and wait until you see suds. Spray the wasps nest thoroughly for a couple minutes, depending on the size of the nest.

 

Check to see if any wasps are still flying around – if they are, then keep spraying. Rinse and repeat the following day if some, but not all, are dead.

 

It’s better to use this spray in the early evening as the sun is going down – wasps will be back in their nests and will be subdued by the lack of light. They will then be less likely to sting.

 

Preventing Wasps Naturally

 

While nothing is 100 percent effective to prevent wasps, there are something you can do, and it’s easier than trying to get rid of wasps later on.

 

Wasps are attracted by sweet smells and rotting garbage – so try to keep your trash closed and on lockdown. Don’t just dump it outside and out in the open (this will also cut down on other pests like raccoons, opossums, dogs, etc).

 

If you have an orchard, be sure to pick up any rotting fruit from the ground.

 

Want to get rid of wasps naturally? Here's how to do it organically!

Plants that Deter Wasps Naturally

 

If you have room in your garden, you can plant some wasp-repelling plants. Just be aware that these plants might also deter bees, which is no good for an organic garden, since we depend on bees for pollination.

 

Some plants to deter wasps naturally include:

 

  • Wormwood (Artemisia)
  • Mint
  • Eucalyptus
  • Citronella

 

You can also try essential oils for these plants (there isn’t one for wormwood that I know of). Simply sprinkle a couple drops of the oil on a rag and hang in your garden. You can also soak cotton balls in the oils.

 

Photo of wasp: By Richard Bartz, Munich aka Makro Freak – Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2576477

I’d like to hear from you!

Have you tried to get rid of wasps naturally? Leave a comment below!

 

Want Gourmet Ingredients Right At Your Fingertips? Grow These 10 Easy But Oh-So-Delicious Herbs!

Want Gourmet Ingredients Right At Your Fingertips? Grow These 10 Easy But Oh-So-Delicious Herbs!

Have you ever moved to a new home and realized you didn’t quite know what you were getting into?

 

That’s what happened when we moved to our farm. We were very used to easy sources for herbs, creme fraiche, and other yummy ingredients.

 

(Want more great down-home gardening advice? Grab your copy of my new book Organic By Choice: The (Secret) Rebel’s Guide To Backyard Gardening available now on Amazon!)

 

Buuuuttt…good luck finding them in a 50 mile radius in this rural town.

 

In fact, part of the reason we started our homestead was so we could have access to fresh, organic ingredients that otherwise we would have zero access to (or at least ingredients that hadn’t been sprayed with a ton of Round-up or shipped from questionable sources overseas) – herbs included.

 

If you’ve found yourself in a similar situation, or just want to bring the garden indoors, here’s 10 easy, versatile, and gourmet herbs we’ve had success with!

 

You can grow them in your own kitchen, and they’ll have your friends convinced you’re either a green-thumb savant and/or Gordon Ramsay himself.

 

Enjoy!

 

Basil (Ocimum basilicum)

You can grow basil as an annual herb. For classic and aromatic flavor; you can try Genovese Basil. Grow Lemon Basil for a citrus flavor and Spicy Globe if you’ll like a Basil herb that grows compactly (8 to 10 inches tall). Spicy Globe basil looks great in pots. Plant in at least a 6-inch pot, keep watered, and fertilize with compost once a month. Ready to harvest when the plant is 6-inches tall, well established, and consistently growing leaves. Easy pesto anyone?

 

Bay (Laurus nobilis)

Although this initially grows very slowly, with enough patience, it will eventually form a bush or small tree which you can easily train into a wide array of shapes, or even a topiary. To make it easy start, you can purchase a young, organic, 1- to 2-foot plant and begin nurturing it. Perfect for soups and stews.

 

Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium)

Also known as French parsley, this annual herb shares a striking similarity to delicate overtones of anise in terms of appearance and taste. Water regularly, and feed compost every other month. To harvest Chervil, all you need to do is snip the outer leaves and stems.

 

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)

This is a grass-like herb with a mild onion flavor. Perfect on baked potatoes, or whenever you need a delicate, fresh, onion flavor. When harvesting, it is highly important to cut small bunches of leaves back into the soil level in order to keep new ones growing constantly.

 

Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum)

Plant in a deep pot because Cilantro has a long taproot, and needs room to grow. It’s best to plant is where you intend to keep it because it doesn’t do well with transplanting. Keep in a sunny area since it loves warmth, and water regularly.

 

Dill (Anethum graveolens)

Dill is an aromatic annual herb which is best known for its leaves when it is grown indoors. You can also grow it for its seeds – if you’re able to stop yourself from eating it! Add to soups and curries, or with fish. Fernleaf dill is a compact herb which is perfect for indoor growth.

 

Marjoram (Origanum spp.)

This herb originates from the Mediterranean and it is a member of the oregano family. However it stands out from other members of its botanical family in terms of flavor, which is distinctly sweeter and more delicate. Sweet marjoram can be grown in pots on a sunny kitchen window sill. Plant in a 6-inch pot, and water regularly.

 

Mints (Mentha spp.)

Peppermint and spearmint are both awesome choices for your kitchen. You can harvest it for tea or as flavoring in a salad. It’s hardy and easy to grow as long as it gets water regularly (if the soil is dry below the surface, it’s time to water.) If growing outdoors, you should ensure to put mint in its own personal container as it can easily outgrow and choke other herbs. When the plant is young but established, snip off new growth to encourage the plant to spread and develop more stems.

 

Oregano (Origanum vulgare ssp. hirtum)

There’s a few different types of oregano. For one that packs a lot of flavor, Greek oregano can grow up to about 12 inches in pots (plant in a 6 to 8-inch pot for best results). Ensure to harvest oregano leaves regularly in order to encourage the growth of new ones.

 

 

Parsley (Petroselinum spp.)

Both Italian flat-leaf and curly-leaf parsley grow effectively when put indoors. When harvesting, ensure that you cut off the outer leaves. Doing this will spur the growth of new leaves from its center and will keep it productive for a long period of time, possibly several months.

 

I’d like to hear from you!

Do you have a favorite herb to grow in your kitchen? Leave a comment below!

The Best All-Natural Bug Spray Using Essential Oils!

The Best All-Natural Bug Spray Using Essential Oils!

Bug season is upon us….and when you have as many animals as we do, you have a LOT of flies!

 

I used to buy store-bought bug sprays, but after many years working at the FDA, I know what’s in them…and there’s natural options I prefer to use, especially on my kids.

 

(A lot of you have asked about which oils I personally use. Here’s everything you need to know!)

 

So, I’m going to show you how to use essential oils to make a safe, non-toxic bug spray that’s worked for us. 

 

There’s a couple variations depending on the scents you like best. I personally prefer to go with Lemongrass but you can switch it out with Lavender or any other scent you like.

 

The only thing to remember is that if you want to use a citrus scent, the oils can make you more photo-sensitive. So just keep that in mind before you use them!

 

You CAN leave oils for scent out, but I’ve found that Eucalyptus can sometimes smell medicinal….so if you’re sensitive to those smells or your kids object, consider adding something like Lavender.

 

The Eucalyptus and Peppermint do a great job at deterring flies and no-see-ums. We have one horse that’s particularly sensitive to no-see-ums, and he seems much more comfortable after an application.

 

How to Make A Non-Toxic Bug Spray With Essential Oils

 

For an easy to make all natural, non-toxic bug spray here’s what you can use:

 

  • 10 drops Lemongrass or Lavender for scent
  • 10 drops Eucalyptus
  • 10 drops Peppermint

 

Slowly drip each oil into a 10mL roller bottle (this is the brand I buy) and top with a carrier oil such as fractionated coconut oil, almond oil, or avocado oil.

 

The roller bottle makes it super simple to apply to your body, and you can feel confident knowing that it’s totally safe for your kids.

 

Before going outside, simply roll the bug spray onto your neck, arms and legs.

 

This recipe also works as a spray for animals. You can mix it with 8 ounces of water and pour into a spray bottle. Just be sure to shake and mix before using for the best results.

 

You can spray it in your chicken coop to deter flies, however, I don’t recommend using it ON your chickens.

 

There you have it! A simple and easy bug spray you can make again and again in your own home!

 

(Ready to grab some essential oils so you can get bugs out of your life for good? Here’s everything you need to know!)