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A Dozen Homemade Organic Garden Remedies


January 3, 2013 by Hope Gardens

12 home remedies

Veggie gardens need special care. Vegetable plants are prone to all sorts of disease and fungus. They are highly sought after by pests both big and teeny teeny tiny. A slight negative change in their environment can cause them to stop producing. And we aren’t happy when our veggie garden is just limping along…we want it to thrive!

We also expect our vegetables to be nutritious and safe to eat; and as if that’s not enough, we demand our gardens be harmonious, attractive and a boon to their environment.

This is a lot to ask of our humble garden, but it can be accomplished! Generations of our ancestors have done it, and they’ve done it with less. Maybe we should follow their lead…

You can do it with less by using homemade natural remedies to treat pests and disease. With readily available ingredients, fertilizers too can be mixed up right in your kitchen and stored easily (and attractively) for whenever you need them. They are green, economical and best of all, successful.

1. Organic Oil Soap Pesticide Spray

1 tsp liquid castile soap or natural dishwashing liquid

2 tsp vegetable oil

Add oil and soap to a spray bottle and fill with water. Shake well before each use. Spray  the oil soap directly on unwanted pests. The spray smothers them so they need to be as coated as possible.

You can add garlic to your oil soap spray which will help deter pests as well as smother theml. Soak 12 cloves of chopped/crushed garlic in vegetable oil for 24 hours. Strain and add in place of regular vegetable oil in recipe. Hint: Planting garlic and onion in your garden repels pests as well.

2. Pepper Plant Epsom Salt Spray

Dissolve 2 tablespoons of epsom salts in a spray bottle of warm water. Shake well before using. Spray conservatively on pepper plants once flowers start to form and as long as the plant is fruiting. The magnesium in the epsom salt help the pepper hold on to its fruit as it grows.

3. Vinegar Weed Spray

Spray undiluted household white vinegar directly and liberally on weeds. The vinegar will kill the leaves of the plant, but not always the roots, so you may need to reapply. Do not spray on any plant you don’t want to damage. You can add a tsp of liquid castile soap or natural dishwashing liquid to help the spray stick to the foliage.

4. Large Pest Deterring Hair Sprinkle

You can tell a Hope Gardens vegetable garden by the unusual site of hair lying all around the plants. You can use hair from your hair brush or leftovers from a hair salon. The human scent on the hair will repel possums, raccoons, cats and rabbits. And as the hair breaks down, it becomes a nutritious compost for the soil.

5. Seaweed Fertilizer Spray

This is my favorite vegetable fertilizer. It’s super economical, easy to make, organic and really effective. I use a prepared dried seaweed called Sea Magic but you can dry your own too. Simply add the 1 oz. packet of Sea Magic powder to a 1-gallon container and fill with warm water. Shake it up well and this is your concentrate. Then add 3 tablespoons of the concentrate to another 1-gallon container and fill with water. This is the direct-use fertilizer. You can use it as a foliar spray or as a root soak.

Hint: Never spray anything on your plants during the hottest part of the day. Even water left on leaves can burn your plants on a hot, bright afternoon. Water and treat your plants either in the evening, or better yet, in the early morning.

6. Baking Soda Fungicide Spray

Baking soda has lots of uses in the garden. Flour and baking soda mixed together can be sprinkled around the garden and on affected plants to deter cabbage worms and aphids. Baking soda can also be used to avoid fungus. It will not cure a current fungus problem, but it can prevent the spread. The same can be said of all natural fungicidal sprays. Here’s a make-at-home recipe.

1 gallon of water

1 tablespoon of baking soda

1 tablespoon of vegetable oil

1 tablespoon of liquid castile soap or natural dishwashing liquid

Spray lightly on foliage of plants afflicted with fungus or mildew. Avoid over-using or pouring on the soil.

7. Egg Shell Fertilizer

Never throw an egg shell away. They are high in potassium and calcium. In fact, egg shells are 93% calcium carbonate, the same ingredient as lime, a super beneficial soil amendment.

You can rinse the shells, dry them, and turn them into a powder in a blender. Add the powder of up to a dozen eggs to a spray bottle of water or to another upcoming fertilizer tea recipe. You can also add crushed egg shells directly to the garden bed.

8. Coffee Ground Fertilizer

Acid loving plants such as tomatoes, blueberries, roses and azaleas love spent coffee grounds. You can mix the grounds into the soil or simply sprinkle on top. If using as a soil drench, soak 6 cups of coffee grounds in a 5 gallon bucket of water. Let it sit for 2-3 days and then saturate the soil around your plants.

9. Banana Peel Fertilizer/Pesticide

Plants love potassium. Add one or two peels in the hole before planting or bury peels under mulch so they can compost naturally. Rotting banana peels are actually rumored to repel aphids as well.

10. Molasses Fertilizer

Use in place of oil in any of the spray recipes here. I make a molasses fertilizer for my potatoes by mixing 5 gallons of water with a cup of molasses. I let it cure for 24 hours, stirring occasionally and then add it to the potato plants 3-4 times during the growing period. Using molasses in compost tea increases microbes and the beneficial bacteria that microbes feed on. Here’s your ultimate compost/molasses/seaweed fertilizer recipe. Add these ingredients to a gallon of water.
1 cup compost tea (or liquid humate, found in hydroponic stores)
1 ounce liquid molasses
1 ounce apple cider vinegar
1 ounce liquid seaweed fertilizer (recipe above)

11. Cornmeal Fungicide/Fertilizer

Cornmeal contains lots of phosphorus and nitrogen and acts as an effective fungicide. Add a cup of cornmeal to 5 gallons of water. Let it soak for several hours, then strain the liquid so you can add it to a spray bottle. Spray the leaves of plants that are susceptible to fungus. You can combine this cornmeal tea with other teas for even more benefits.

12. Weed/Herb Tea Fertilizer

For lots of reasons you should grow some beneficial companion flowers in your garden. You can harvest them, chop them up and sprinkle them around your vegetables to repel insects. You can also make them into fertilizer teas. And here’s the real mind blower: you can even harvest your WEEDS and make them into a weed tea fertilizer. Those weeds are out there soaking up the minerals from your soil – you might as well use them.

You can use fresh or dried weeds of any kind. I also use same recipe to make a comfrey tea. Pull up your weeds and/or harvest some comfrey, then make this concentrate.

“Sun tea” directions: For every big handful of weeds/herbs add 2 or 3 cups of water in a glass jar and set out into the sun for a day or two. Strain. Stove top directions: Bring the weeds/herbs and water to a quick boil. Remove from heat and cover. Allow to soak for a few hours, then strain.

Dilute one part of weed/herb tea concentrate to four parts of water to make your fertilizer. If using as a foliar spray, add 1/4 teaspoon liquid castile soap or natural dishwashing liquid to help it stick. If you are using as a root soak, you do not need the soap.

Comfrey tea makes a powerful liquid organic fertilizer. The roots run very deep and pull up minerals that other plants cannot reach. It is particularly rich in potassium.

Consistent and careful plant maintenance is always your best defense against problems and your best guarantee of a THRIVING garden. Check out our Winter Garden Guide and our Summer Garden Guide for maintenance tips.

I was inspired to write this blog by the wonderful bloggers at Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways. Check them out!

and check out Miss Amy at

Enjoy creating your homegrown organic garden remedies!

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  1. O my gosh I wish I had this last year when I had a garden and got infested with bugs! I would love if you would share this over at my blog hop!

  2. Pamela says:

    This is so informative! I’m definitely going to try these in my garden this year. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Kat says:

    Thanks so much for this information! 🙂

  4. Bowie says:

    Got anything for snails?

    • spielbee says:

      I’m stealing this directly from Mother Earth news. 🙂 I myself use Sluggo.

      A few years ago, a U.S. Department of Agriculture scientist found that crabgrass contains a substance toxic to slugs. Since then, many backyard slug slayers have experimented with crabgrass cookies, which are made by mixing chopped, dried crabgrass leaves with corn bran, cornstarch and beer. The baits are then placed beneath plants, where the slugs eat them and die.

      Another option is spraying coffee on plants that are plagued with slugs. Caffeine in any form — including a few No-Doz tablets mixed with water — is a slug neurotoxin that will kill these unwanted pests.

      When you’re down to only a few slugs, you can fall back on the traditional organic control, which is to trap them with beer. Put an inch or so of any beer in a cup, bury it in the garden nearly to the rim, and collect your drowned slugs in the morning. Or, put some beer in plastic drink bottles and lay them on their sides in the garden. The slugs will crawl in and drown. Dump them out and start over again every few days.

      Read more:

  5. edith breedlove says:

    what do you do to get rid of deer?

    • spielbee says:

      lol. you’re out of luck there! get yourself a greenhouse.

    • Janna says:

      Build a fence…

    • spielbee says:

      @edith breedlove I did some web snooping and found this! also read that quinoa is deer resistant and can be grown from seed.

    • steve heisler says:

      people tell me eggs crushed and sprayed over he plants will protect them from the deer …I have seen it work but have never had to use myself.

    • Alice Rain says:

      We drape netting over our plants at night… it’s the only way I’ve ever been able to stop the deer and actually harvest some squash. We have tall stakes in the areas where the plants that are attractive to deer grow, and the netting is permanently attached at the top. We wind it up in the morning and drape it down at night. It’s somewhat time-consuming, but I like to think of it as putting the garden to bed and waking it up. The official ‘deer netting’ is pretty expensive, but I bought bridal netting off of the clearance rack at the local fabric store for 30 cents a yard. We call that area our bridal garden- lol.

      Also, a spray made with garlic, hot sauce and raw eggs works- but only if you spray it on every day. (and it STINKS!) You take about 3 tablespoons of crushed/diced raw garlic and 3 tablespoons of any hot sauce and heat them just until boiling in a saucepan. After that cools, add it to an empty gallon jug and add in 3 raw egg whites, then fill the jug to the top with water. Shake vigorously and let it steep in the sun for a day or two. Strain the mixture into a spray bottle and spray all over the plants and the soil. Did I mention that it stinks? This will also keep squrrels away… sometimes. (It depends on how determined the squirrels are!)

  6. Emma says:

    Does the garlic oil soap formula require refrigeration? Also – are we soaking all 12 of the cloves in two tiny teaspoons? How much water to the 3tsp mixture of oil and soap? Thanks! 🙂

  7. deston says:

    I was admiring everything I read here until the comments section- spielbee! Sluggo is NOT safe. heres the deal- the manufactures say that since its mostly iron phosphate- a common presence in the environment and low solubility in water. but wait- If Iron Phosphate is common in soils globally (and it is) why are there any slugs or snails at all, since that is the active ingredient? well, think of it like this. iron phosphate is not toxic if you dont actually digest it. And mostly, nothing can- without the EDTA that is added to sluggo, it’s inert. EDTA is a chelating agent that causes the iron phosphate to release its elemental iron easily into the digestive systems of not only slugs and snails but of pretty much anything that eats it- birds, cats, dogs, etc. and in fact, once that iron is free, its deadly. The following is a fair description about the effects of iron poisoning in humans from the Linus Pauling Institute:

    “Accidental overdose of iron-containing products is the single largest cause of poisoning fatalities in children under six years of age. Although the oral lethal dose of elemental iron is approximately 200-250 mg/kg of body weight, considerably less has been fatal. Symptoms of acute toxicity may occur with iron doses of 20-60 mg/kg of body weight. Iron overdose is an emergency situation because the severity of iron toxicity is related to the amount of elemental iron absorbed. Acute iron poisoning produces symptoms in four stages: 1) Within 1-6 hours of ingestion, symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, tarry stools, lethargy, weak and rapid pulse, low blood pressure, fever, difficulty breathing, and coma; 2) If not immediately fatal, symptoms may subside for about 24 hours; 3) Symptoms may return 12 to 48 hours after iron ingestion and may include serious signs of failure in the following organ systems: cardiovascular, kidney, liver, hematologic (blood), and central nervous systems; and 4) Long-term damage to the central nervous system, liver (cirrhosis), and stomach may develop two to six weeks after ingestion”.

    In fact, veteranarians are starting to come round to this and its starting to appear in google searches more easily; sluggo is in fact a deadly combo for many four pawed frineds, as they, unlinke humans, have little to no metabolic processing that will remove it from their system, so it bioaccumulates until they die, whereas in humans we can pass some of it through metabolic process, so have a small buffer of safety. Google around and see for yoruself; its just over the last year getting to be understood that the iron phosphate is not benign in the presence of EDTA. I used sluggo for about 4 years until a neighbor who is a veteranarian showed me the science…

    • spielbee says:

      I appreciate your reply and will definitely dig around. I sprinkle so little of it…I can’t imagine it doing any harm…but when a beer trap will work just as well, why take the chance? Thank you for the information.

  8. […] A Dozen Homemade Organic Garden Remedies. […]

  9. kalilee23 says:

    I have always been an assistant gardener. Working for csa farms or market gardens of friends of mine. It wasn’t until the last couple of years that I have tried my hand at my own. I have met my match with squash bugs. I have tried a variety of natural deterents (flour mixed with garlic powder and chili powder), but I am so glad I found this blog and will try many of these recipes and tips this year. Thank you for sharing.

  10. Yukosville says:

    What would work best for Squirrels? They keep coming back to dig my basil, arugula planters and don’t know what to do… would love to find a solution this year. Does anyone use Wolf pee (sold on stores) on veggies?

    • spielbee says:

      I use the fox urine (Shake Away) and that works some. Believe it or not, I planted a fig tree and the squirrels spend all their time in there now. They also stay full on all the free bird seed. Try giving them an alternate food source. You can also cover up your basil and arugula with some homemade chicken wire cloches.

      • Yukosville says:


        Thanks for your comment! Both Fox urine and wire cloches sound awesome. I will try urine and I will plan on making some wire cloche, looks easy! Bird seed idea is also a nice one, didn’t think of it! Thank you for your feedback! So excited about the planting season now! 🙂

  11. […] 12 Homemade garden remedies Growing seeds in egg cartons (because I have about 10 of them…) Colorado Planting Guide […]

  12. mpodlesny says:

    Awesome ideas!

  13. JustMe says:

    Awesome! Any good recipes for super pesky squash bugs?? (other than hand-picking) Thanks!

    • spielbee says:

      Squash bug soup? 😉 I find a squirt of the hose keeps those buggers off the plants. Sometimes I see 100s of them but not a terrible amount of damage to the plant. As long as the plant is okay, I wouldn’t over-worry about the bugs. You can plant radish seeds near your squash to repel them, and if you plant nasturtiums (always a good idea) they will be drawn to nasturtiums and away from your squash. Catnip, marigold, mint, beebalm and tansy are also said to be repellers. When handpicking squash bugs drop them into a bucket of soapy water.

      If you are desperate, or going to be away, you can also cover plants with floating row covers until the flowers appear and then uncover for pollination, or leave covered and hand pollinate. This works really well if you can anchor the row cover to keep it from blowing away.

      Look for a squash bug’s eggs and destroy those too. There’s some good photos here of the eggs and the babies. Good luck!

  14. LGlad says:

    Anyone have any ideas or suggestions on what to do about about tomato hornworms??

    • spielbee says:

      Planting borage nearby helps. I find in my garden, that once I see those tell-tale big holes, I can start looking for them. From there I just hand-pick them off.

  15. […] April 1 – Found a great website with “A Dozen Homemade Organic Remedies” […]

  16. loverj says:

    Reblogged this on From Michigan to Montana and commented:
    I think I may have to try some of these…

  17. I am so lucky I found this site and am ready to apply all that I have learned!

  18. Ms. Ladybug says:

    I made an organic homemade deer spray last year that worked wonderful! I will be blogging about it down the road I’m sure. Thanks for sharing these ideas. Some of them I was unaware of. I use tons of vinegar! 🙂

    • denise stelzer says:

      I would love to know your secret. The deer destroyed my yard, in the middle of town, the last 2 summers. Nothing seems to help for more than a few weeks.

  19. Vicki says:

    Will Canola oil work the same? We never buy vegetables oil….

  20. Birdie says:

    I loved this site.i use coffee grounds everywhere not a slug in site.any coffee shop will probably be glad to get rid of some

  21. GetYourEcoOn says:

    Reblogged this on Get your Eco on! and commented:

  22. […] of plants, here are 12 homemade organic garden remedies for things like pests, weeds, and fertilizer. (via Hope […]

  23. Bill Hellyer says:

    This is a great list of remedies; some of which I was completely clueless about. I have always had trouble with aphids on the pepper plants I grow in the summer, and I hate the idea of using insecticides on something I will be eating, so some of these recipes are a huge help. Deer are a problem for me too, but the big issue I have is a woodchuck or groundhog. We have one or two a year that show up every now and then, waddle into the yard, and eat the flowers off of my vegetables and perennial flowers. Occasionally they’ll eat the bottom off of a pepper as well. Any ideas on how to get rid of these guys aside from chicken wire?

    • spielbee says:

      I use human or dog hair (pull it out of your hairbrush or I collect it when I get my hair cut) as the scent sometimes deters animals and the hair is a great compost for the garden. Other than that, I think you need a fence. I use the plastic chicken wire…easier to use and I’ve yet to have anything chew through it. Good luck!

  24. Dragontatoo says:

    Will olive oil work in place of the vegetable oil?

    • spielbee says:

      Thanks for the questions. Yes you can use olive oil.
      Oil plays two roles in organic sprays. One, it helps the ingredients in the spray adhere to the leaf and two, it can actually suffocate the insect. Use oils sparingly and right on the pest if possible. Olive, vegetable, mineral oil…all the same.

  25. […] A Dozen Homemade Organic Garden Remedies. […]

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