Natural Pesticides Recipes for Gardens

Written By Marianne Keith, Program Manager

Thirty-five percent of households in the United States are gardening and growing produce at home, the highest level in over a decade! Gardening not only provides an inexpensive source of fresh produce, physical exercise and a reduction in stress and other health problems, it also allows us to have awareness and control over which chemicals touch our food and affect our environment. KIDS for the BAY students at Antioch’s Turner Elementary School studied the effects of chemical pesticides and were inspired to take action and make a difference in their homes and watershed by learning to make natural pesticide alternatives using non-toxic household items. These methods and recipes can be applied to any home garden, as a way to support the efforts of these Student Scientists and protect our neighborhood environment.

To understand the effects of chemical pesticides, students constructed farm models to observe how pesticides leach into our watershed in their Environmental Action Project. A fourth grade student, Kara, concluded, “The pesticides spread in the ground and into the water. In real life this would be bad for the watershed and every living thing in it.” As a direct solution to this problem, students created natural pesticide alternative using four simple ingredients: garlic, jalapeno, biodegradable soap, and water. “Now knowing that chemical pesticides are toxic,” explained Nasir, “I like that we are making a safe, natural type here in our classroom.” Students plan to use their jalapeno pepper spray on the school gardens and at home. They are excited to share the spray and their knowledge with their families and community. “I like that we can take our natural pesticide mixture and recipe home to our families,” expressed Noelani. “I am going to share what we learned with them.”

These recipes for natural pesticides are accessible and simple for anyone interested in having an environmentally responsible garden. They keep pests away, reduce chemical pollution and, according to one of our students, smell great! Try these methods at home and become an Inspired Environmentalist. For anyone lacking access to a gardening space at home, many cities have vibrant and accessible community garden programs.

Jalapeño Pepper Spray

1/2 cup Jalapeño
3 pints of water
4 cloves of garlic

Soap Spray

2 teaspoon biodegradable dish soap
1 gallon of water

Garlic Spray

1 onion
1 head of garlic
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
3 pints of water

Oil Spray

1 cup cooking oil (i.e. canola or vegetable)
1 tablespoon biodegradable dish soap
Use 2 1/2 teaspoons of this mixture in 1 cup of water

For all recipes above: Blend together ingredients, strain using cheesecloth, and store in a plastic or glass spray bottle.