Harmful insect pests like mites, aphids and whiteflies can do a lot of damage to plants in a small amount of time. Organic gardeners avoid chemical pesticides, because they are toxic to breathe and they contribute to environmental damage. Innovative new methods for pest control are being implemented by sustainable agricultural programs and organic home gardeners. Topical applications of pepper are effective against many common garden pests.
Organic garden and sustainable agricultural practices are designed to function within natural earth rhythms using materials derived from natural sources. Integrated pest management (IPM) techniques include farmscaping, companion planting, biological controls and crop plant diversity. Pepper is a barrier method of pest control that repels insects as they approach the plant. Pepper sprays can be made easily and used in a hand sprayer or hose-attached sprayer.
Pepper spray is effective on aphids, mites and whiteflies as part of an integrated program for pest management that includes soil health. "Pest management begins with the soil," according to an Ohio State University Extension paper on intensive organic gardening. Healthy soil leads to healthy plants that are able to resist disease. All gardens suffer from occasional insect problems, and pepper spray is one natural solution.
Companion Planting Effects
Companion planting can reduce insect infestations and the need for solutions such as pepper spray. Pepper exudes chemicals that are toxic and repellent to many insects. Some plants also release chemical substances that repel insects. French marigolds release a chemical substance that kills harmful soil nematodes, and garlic repels aphids on rose bushes.
Pepper Spray Recipe
Plants can be made distasteful to insects that chew. The Capitol District Community Gardens recommend pepper and garlic spray for cabbage worms, caterpillars and tomato hornworms. Their recipe for spray also includes garlic, onion and pure soap.The spray can be applied frequently, and is especially effective after rain. Ground cayenne or red hot pepper sprinkled directly on plant leaves are also an effective insect deterrents.
Pepper spray is effective only when insects ingest it or are repelled by it. Frequent spraying keeps the plants well coated with the pepper mixture. Sprays that include dishwasher liquid help pepper stick to plant leaves, but may need to be washed off after a few hours. Pepper spraying is most effective on cloudy days or in early morning. Pepper and garlic both repel small rodents as well as insects.