Above: My basil plant started to flourish after spraying it with my homemade pest repellent.
Next month, I am moving from a house in the suburbs with a spacious yard to a small apartment in the city with a cute little balcony. Because my move falls right in the middle of gardening season, I decided not to plant outdoors this year. In July, I will use my new balcony to grow some plants in pots. But I really miss the abundance of tomatoes and cucumbers and herbs that constantly covered my kitchen counters. Growing my own food has been one of the most exciting, frustrating, and rewarding hobbies I have taken up since switching to a zero waste lifestyle.
In my first year as a gardener (2017), I was somehow able to rescue my plants from transplant shock, soil nutrient deficiency, severe winds… But the biggest, most frustrating issue I had was bugs: aphids, beetles, and slugs were nibbling on the leaves of every plant. I posted in an online forum to ask for help on how to deter pests naturally. A few gardening gurus and a friendly organic farmer helped me save all my plants except one–my green pepper plant couldn’t be saved. R.I.P.
Even though I am not gardening yet this year, I know many of you are growing your own food outside. And I know many of you are battling bugs like I did. Try this recipe and be amazed! Not only did it deter the harmful bugs but it also kept away the squirrels, rabbits, and deer. I didn’t put up any fencing because the spray was enough to keep out all the critters, big and small. From my research, the smell of the essential oils is what deters animals like squirrels or rabbits. Mind you, I live in the suburbs outside of a large city, so I can’t guarantee this will work if you live in the country or a forest. 😉
The best part about this spray is that it’s safe for you and your family and it won’t harm or contaminate your food. It will kill some of the small bugs that are causing trouble and safety deter larger animals. But insects like bees–which are essential for pollination!–won’t be harmed or disappear from your garden. My adorable, 80-something year old neighbors, Al and Linda, always said, “Beware of the squirrels!” Looks like I outsmarted the squirrels.
Above: My janky spray bottle, made with supplies I had at home.
I call this recipe ‘low waste’ because not everyone can get castile or dish soap in bulk (package free), so there will be a plastic bottle to recycle. And essential oil bottles are difficult to recycle despite being glass.
P.S. This spray is great for killing ants. I sprayed it all over the kitchen last fall when I had an ant infestation, and it helped a lot.
You can see in pic #2 that I didn’t have a spray bottle. I used a glass flip-top bottle. I stuck this old plastic nozzle (it came from an empty bottle of my housemate’s glass cleaner) into the flip-top bottle before each use. The nozzle piece didn’t screw onto the bottle, but this contraption got the job done.
I just finished a container of apple cider vinegar and this old plastic nozzle screws on perfectly! So now I do have fully functional, glass spray bottle and I didn’t spend an extra penny