pesticide free gardening

How can I get rid of garden pests safely?

Bee Friendly Garden Pest Solutions

We have created a beautiful garden or vegetable patch but are inundated with unwanted visitors, pests and weeds.

What do we do to get rid of weeds and pests without harming the bee’s and butterflies?

Most gardeners are well aware of the dangers in using commercial pesticides.  The damage that pesticides cause have proven to be extremely detrimental both to humans and nature in general.  Take the honeybee – the population has been falling, colonies collapsing and the general health of the bee has been severely compromised.  This bee’s demise is not helped with the use of pesticides.  Take the human – studies have shown the extreme adverse effects on our health too from cancers to autism.  The chemicals in these pesticides actually cause suffocation in human cells.  Do you really want to be ingesting these deadly cocktails?  No amount of washing our fruit and veg can take away the fact that they have been unnecessary doused in poisons.

Growing organic in my opinion is the only healthy way to go and yes it is a little more work trying to ward off the pests and not destroy the environment and our health – but it has to be done to benefit us and nature.  There are natural solutions and with a little trial and error you will find your perfect solution.


Is it necessary to eliminate the intruders?

All insects have a place in the eco system so before taking action to get rid of them – stop and think if it is really necessary.  First see what damage they are actually doing and then in a controlled method decide who goes and who stays in your garden!  There are pesticides currently on the market that are sold as being safe to use and organic.  You need to understand that just because something says it is natural does not mean it is harmless.  Try using the natural solutions listed below before reaching for a commercial brand.  Always stay clear of toxic and chemically laden products for your own health and habitat.

Top 14 natural pesticide free gardening solutions

  1. Epsom Salts
  2. Neem Oil
  3. Pepper
  4. Garlic
  5. Onion
  6. Vinegar
  7. Castile Soap
  8. Aluminium foil
  9. Essential Oils
  10. Companion Planting
  11. Boiled Water
  12. Corn Gluten
  13. Kaolin Clay
  14. Hose

How to use natural pesticides in your garden.

Epsom Salt

Not just for easing the muscles –  epsom salt is a very welcome non toxic addition to every organic gardeners arsenal!  Make a half/ half water and salt solution and spray on the leaves to ward off beetles and other pesky visitors.  This is very effective in keeping away snails and slugs,  you can also sprinkle a little salt around the base of your plant.  Epsom salts are magnesium rich and a great fertiliser for magnesium loving plants such as tomato and peppers.  This has a double whammy effect – pest control and a nutrient dense feed.

Neem Oil

A must in every organic gardener’s shed!   Neem Oil has many advantages – whilst being incredibly effective against insects that wreak havoc – the beetle and that little rascal the caterpillar and their eggs. It is also effective at dealing with  the fungal diseases that can attack our plants and crops.    This wonder oil is taken from a native tree in India (Azadirachta indica) and is used widely for medicinal and skincare remedies.  Neem oil is powerful and must be used in the correct dosage to be effective against the pest and cause no harm to our pollinators and birds.  Dilute to 3% oil and put in your spray bottle,  make sure you keep giving your bottle a good shake as oil and water doesn’t exactly mix very well!  Apply to both sides of the leaf.

Pepper, Garlic, and Onion

Boil peppers, onions and garlic in water and then blend it out, cool then add more water and transfer to a large container (gallon).  Make sure you protect your hands and your eyes with this method.  The garlic contains sulfur compounds that can help to repel carrot rust fly, whiteflies, japanese beetles, maggots, slugs and a host of other pests.  If you have roses garlic is your best friend and will help to get rid of aphids.  The garlic will be absorbed into the plants thus working as a systemic pesticide if used as a tea or spray.  Plant beside celery, lettuce, potatoes, tomatoes, strawberries but NOT with peas or beans.


Apple cider vinegar has many uses in a heathy lifestyle but it can also be used on newly sprouted weeds , white wine vinegar is also effective.  Just add to your spray bottle and aim directly to eliminate.  Stronger vinegars can be damaging to the environment so remember to stick with household vinegar only and it is only useful on gentle weeds.  You can mix with epsom salt and castile soap to make a solution to tackle stronger more established weeds.

Castile Soap

How on earth is soap good for acting as a pesticide?  Well,  first it has to be Castile Soap.  Why?  Because Castile Soap has the right fatty acids that are naturally present in the olive oil base.  You can mix this up if you want to try different methods with sunflower or neem oil.  Use 2% Castile in the solution.


It’s simply the shine!  The light reflected from the foil sends pests into a bit of a dither and off they go on their merry way!  This is a great way to recycle your kitchen foil after you have used. Wrap around the bottom of plants or /and mix it into the soil or mulch.

Essential Oils

Essential Oils have many uses and are used in lots of natural skincare and body care recipes.  You will find most natural insect repellents (for personal care) will contain essential oils.  We want to talk about the garden though so here is the best to use – and the reason being their strong smell sends those little pests scurrying.  Sprinkle directly around the area you want treated and also mix well with some water (remember to keep giving the bottle a good shake) – you can then spray directly unto your plants.  The top essential oils to repel are,  eucalyptus, orange, rosemary, peppermint and cinnamon.  Lavender and Rosemary essential oils attracts pollinators and beautiful butterflies into your garden so try using some here and there around your garden.  You can soak some oil onto a little bit of wood bark –  a little like potpourri or on cotton balls and place where you want your flying friends to visit.  Peppermint is great in the house too as spiders find the fragrance just a little too offensive!

Kaolin Clay

Mix the clay with water and apply directly to the plants with a spray bottle.  This forms a barrier against unwanted visitors.  Kaolin clay can be used right up to the day to pick your fruit or harvest your veg.  Just wash throughly before using.


This simple method may be all that is required as aphids will most likely not climb back onto your flowers or plant.  Simply the spray nozzle on your hose and take aim!  Be careful as you do not want to damage the plants with too high of a force.  Do this a few times a week until the little pesky pests have decided the rain forest is not for them!

Corn gluten meal

Otherwise known as (CGM) and better known as a feed for animals and poultry.  Did you know it corn gluten meal is also to stop weeds emerging?  This fact was discovered by accident at Iowa State University whilst doing different research. It was discovered the CGM stopped weeds from sprouting but is not effective against mature growth.  The corn gluten meal will stop the seeds from established weeds and over time the growth will decline.  Apply after your flower or vegetable beds are seeded and are showing a little growth.  If you apply the CGM too early it will inhibit your seeds from sprouting.  Follow the specific manufactures directions for precise application.

Boiled Water

Good old simple boiled water is an effective way of killing of weeds but common sense should prevail here!  Do not put boiling water directly onto your veg (unless you are trying to cook at source!).  Use only on weeds,  perfect for that relentless growth between paving.

Companion planting

Yes that pretty flower can be a mighty force in the garden!  Companion planting is an excellent totally natural way to control the pests in your garden.

Plants will either invite or repel insects and beneficial insects will help eliminate pests.  It is a natural cycle that can be utilised with choosing the right plants to act as companion plants to your crops or flower beds.  Lady birds and praying mantis are a real benefit to your garden and a perfect example of the insects you want to keep.  Remember this when you are going heavy with any natural pesticide too.  Every garden is different depending on where you live and what climate or micro climate you live in.  Soil types differ,  pests are different so experiment to see what works best for your environment.


Companion Planting Ideas
Companion planting for pesticide free garden.

Companion Plants

Oregano and Marjoram are great planted between rows of Brassicas for repelling cabbage moth.  Plant around asparagus and basil also.

Artemisia –  produces a strong antiseptic that repels most insects and small animals. This plant does produce a botanical poison so use only in flower borders and not on your vegetable beds.

Basil – will ensure good strong tomato plants with improved flavour.  Plant basil along side oregano, peppers and asparagus too. The oils in basil repel flies, and mosquitoes.

Borage – This plant is a wonder in the garden and great as an all round companion plant.  It repels tomato hornworms and cabbage worms but will attract beneficial insects such as bees.  It adds nutrients to the soil and will come back year after year.  Borage is a great pollinator and a great asset to your garden.

Catnip –Repels just about every insect invader into your garden.

Chives – to repel Japanese beetles and carrot rust flies. It may help with your apple crop too to prevent scab. Chives a re a great companion for brassicas and will add flavour to carrots and tomatoes.  It is recommended not to use near beans and peas,.

Chrysanthemums – contain a compound called pyrethrum.   It is a natural pesticide and has been harnassed by commercial natural pest brands.  It helps the control of ticks, bedbugs and roaches.  In the garden you can plant to drive away japanese beetle.  You can use chrysanthemums as a tea and sprayed unto leaves when the tea is cooled.   T

Dahlias – not only are they beautiful but dahlias repel nematodes so plant a few of these blooming delights.

Dill –  Another great defence in the cabbage patch.  Plant dill with cucumbers, corn, lettuce and onion but away from carrots and tomatoes.  It will attract the tomato hornworm keeping it away from your tomato plants.

Lavender –Lavender will attract the right insects into your garden whilst repelling fleas and moths.  Apart from that, they are just such a beautiful addition to any garden.

Nasturtiums – Can be used a trap crop for those annoying aphids.  Plant beside broccoli, sprouts, cauliflower, kale, tomato, potato, cucumber. 

Petunias –  Plant to  tomato worm, mexican bean beetle, leaf hoppers and some aphids.  Petunias are perfect to grow with grapes, corn, brassicas, beans and basil.  They look very pretty too!

Sunflower – Do you know ants move their entire colonies onto sunflowers?  Plant to draw aphids away from your other plants.  The sunflower is amazing and can withstand attacks and insects moving in!  


Sacrificial Planting and Trap Planting Tips

Sacrificial known also as trap crops is planting flowers or shrubs that you do not intend to harvest.  They are basically a decoy to your other offerings that you do want to harvest!

It does sound rather dramatic and medieval but don’t let the sacrificial term put you off!  It is the most natural, effective and organic way to control all those unwanted invaders from attacking your flowers and crops.


How and where to plant trap plants

A border of trap plants around your planting area will really help to keep the damage to a minimum.  Your unwanted visitors so all have a different palate so make sure you choose crops that are known to attract the pests you want keep off your harvesting plants or flowers.

A border might not be enough in some cases so it is advisable to plant in between your crops.  Organic farmers tend to allow 20% of the planting area for this reason.

Our unwanted visitors all have their own tastes and prefer different crops and flowers.  The list above will help you get started on what to plant in YOUR garden.

At some stage your trap plants might need to be removed if they become over-run.  You can remove them altogether and dispose before they work against you by allowing breeding and having even more of these pesky creatures in the garden.  It is a balance that you need to keep on top of.  Your companion and sacrificial trap plants will also attract beneficial insects that should help keep this problem at bay.  The more pesky pests will result in more beneficial insects so it does usually balance itself out in nature.


More Ideas to keep pests out of your garden.

  • Pick off the bugs.  You can go out every morning and literally pick the bugs off your flowers or crops.  This will not work for every bug type but it is fast and simple!
  • Trap the pests. Make a paper collar to deter worms and soil insects and push down into the soil at least 3 inches, keep 3 inches above the soil too.
  • Floating row covers.  These are a great idea, effective and easy to install.  The fabric allows the water and rain to reach the plants but protects your planting from beetles and other non soil living pests.  Your seedlings will grow faster as the cover keeps the soil warm.  You need to move the covers when the warm weather comes for the plants to flourish and the bees to pollinate.
  • Crop Rotation.  This is a great way to confuse your pests especially those that have a specific palate!  Do this with inter-planting to double your chance of success.

Creating a happy, safe garden.

You have lots of ideas to control the unwanted visitors to your garden but remember just enjoy the planting and if you get some damaged leaves that is ok too.  A few damaged leaves do not destroy a complete plant so get it into perspective for you and your little pests!  You are creating a safe and wonderful environment for you and the world around you  – well done!