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Home / Smart Harvest

How to make your own insecticides at home

If you have been a vegetable farmer, you must have had an encounter with pests from time to time. When it comes to keeping your crops healthy, there are approaches that can guarantee better harvests.

While removing insects by hand is one time-tested method, it can also be incredibly challenging to do so or can be too little too late. Another, far less time-intensive method of knocking back insect populations is by applying natural or homemade insecticides, which can reduce their numbers or eliminate them altogether.

Not all insects are harmful, so applying insecticides indiscriminately, especially harsh pesticides that affect even the beneficial insects can have a detrimental effect on your local garden ecosystem. It is, therefore, important to learn how to manage these pests without using synthetic chemical pesticides.

Insect pests are a major threat to crop production industries in the world; they are capable of causing great economic damage if not dealt with properly. They are carriers of major disease in crop; examples are mealy bugs, whiteflies. They have modified mouthparts that allow them to feed on different types of vegetables in a garden. Some defoliate crop leaves making it prone to airborne diseases; examples are the grasshopper and leaf beetles. Some feed on the sap juice of the plant thereby reducing the plant vigor, this type of insects are called the piercing and sucking insects like aphids and thrips.

Homemade insecticide spray is cheap and safe to use, compared to chemical pesticides, which require precautions in usage. Additionally, homemade insecticides do not have a recommended dosage, unlike the synthetic type which one must be cautious and follow the prescribed dosage strictly before applying. To make your production profitable, always find ways to reduce the cost of production. This homemade insecticide is one of the ways to reduce the cost of vegetable production.

Homemade insecticides are easy to formulate. You require liquid soap, vegetable oil, baking soda, and water. To prepare, mix four teaspoons of baking soda in one liter of water. Add two tablespoons of vegetable oil and two tablespoons of liquid soap. Shake the mixture vigorously. Pour the mixture in a sprayer and apply to your vegetables. For effective control of pests, do not apply the homemade insecticide early in the morning or late in the evening for it to be effective.

Garlic spray

The strong scent of garlic keeps certain pests from feeding on your vegetables. For this organic pesticide, combine 10 to 12 garlic cloves with one litre of water in a blender. After blending, allow the mixture to settle for 24 hours. Then strain it using a cloth, and add one cup of cooking oil.

For an even more powerful homemade pesticide, add one tablespoon of cayenne pepper to the concentrated mixture and let it soak for another 24 hours before straining the liquid once again. When ready for use, dilute half a cup of the liquid with one gallon of water.

Red Pepper Spray
Red pepper powder can also be used to create a homemade pesticide safe to use in vegetable gardens. Combine one tablespoon of red pepper powder, six drops of dish soap and one gallon of water and mix the ingredients thoroughly. If needed, reapply the spray once a week to keep garden pests such as leafhoppers, spittlebugs, beetles, and loopers off the plants.

Organic insecticides have several problems or limitations compared to conventional insecticides, including short residual activity, limited contact activity, requiring ingestion to be effective, less effective on mature insects, requiring precise timing to hit immature insects and short shelf life. Nevertheless, the use of homemade pesticides greatly reduces the cost of vegetable production; they are cheap to make with readily available recipes.

 [The writer is an expert on sustainable agriculture]

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