-Lee Hindrichs, The Essential Oil Nurse, special to SPN
Essential Oils and Garden Pests
When an intervention is called, for staying away from sprays and dustings is preferable. Those sprays are broad spectrum, and even though they might be organic, they kill both pests and beneficial bugs. They can also have a negative effect on the soil micro-organisms.
A safe natural alternative is as easy as 1 2 3.
1. Know your enemy!
First, get a handle on who’s doing the damage. This makes responding to an infestation a little easier. Often the response is going to be a multi-pronged approach. Use a combination of essential oil sprays, diatomaceous earth and handpicking pests. Make the area unappealing to the pests from the beginning.
Part of putting the garden to bed in the winter months includes clearing away debris and fallen fruit so the pest don’t have a food source or places to hide in. As always, prevention is your most powerful step.
Once you know what your fighting choose the essential oils that are specific to that pest and then determine the best method to apply the oil.
2. Making the solution
All of the sprays I use are made with water and essential oils. Occasionally I’ll use some Dr’ Bonner’s castile soap it helps to emulsify the essential oil so it disperses through the concoction more evenly. Soap has it own insecticidal properties as well. Unfortunately they can also harm our beneficial insects so rinse the leaves off after a soap treatment.
When combating ground pests such as beetles and cutworms try burying small yogurt containers and stuffing them with cotton balls. Add a few drops of a strong smelling essential oil such as Peppermint, Thyme or Eucalyptus and refresh as needed.
For flying insects try soaking string in a bath of water and strong smelling essential oils and stringing it through the rows of plants.
Make a foiler spray using 5-10 drops of essential oils to one gallon of water and one teaspoon of Dr. Bonner’s soap. Spray the entire plant with special attention to the underside of the leaves. Wipe each leaf off with a paper towel or soft cloth. The aphids, ants and sooty mold will come away easily, If wiping down each leaf is too daunting a task leave the solution in place for an hour or two and then spray down the plant with fresh water.
3. Applying the solution
When you apply any solution, there are a few cautions. Strong sunlight shining on wet oily leaves can cause sunburn to the leaves.Work on a cloudy day or later in the afternoon. The solution can also kill beneficial insects so be aware of what they are doing. Be sure to clean the leaves of the solution after a couple of hours.
Repeat the process as needed.
A few final suggestions
If the local cat uses your garden as its personal outhouse or the dog likes to dig or if mice have run asunder there are essential oils for that as well. Black Pepper deters dogs. rosemary repels cats, and peppermint puts off rodents. You can make a solution of water and a few drops of essential oil and spray it on the mulch or try hanging strips of cloth soaked in the Essential Oil solution throughout the garden.
I always use Doterra CPTG essential oils because I know how strong they are. Since I only end up needing a few drops for each application its cost effective as well.
General purpose garden spray.
If you’re not sure what’s eating at your garden, here is a wonderful all-purpose spray that will kill insects and their eggs. It also works great as a general insect repellent indoors and out doors as well!
Mix equal parts peppermint.
Create a cocktail of equal parts thyme, peppermint, clove, and rosemary oils. Mix this solution into a small spray bottle filled with water. Shake well and apply to infested plants. This potent mix of herbal oils will kill most garden insect pests as well as their eggs and larvae. This combination also works great as a general purpose outdoor/indoor insect repellent!
The Essential Oil Nurse
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