There are many homemade solutions that can help keep harmful chemicals out of the garden. Pest control can start at planting with steps to deter insects from coming to the garden in the first place. While you will never be able to stop all pests, you can cut down on the damage they cause when you spend a little time and money by applying homemade insecticides and insect-repelling techniques to your garden.
Rotate planting locations each season. Some insects like certain plants and will lay their eggs in the soil where the preferred plant was grown the previous season. The eggs hatch and feed off the next crop. By rotating the plants, the insects will not have the proper food and die.
Cover the row of just-planted seeds or small plants with a floating row cover. Lay lightweight screening material right over your plants. This screening cover allows water and light in but keeps many insects out. The covers expand with the plant, so you will only need to move it to weed, according to Washington State University Extension.
Pick weeds and rake out any debris from the garden regularly. Many insects feed on the debris and weeds and will migrate to the garden plants. By keeping the area clean--not only of weeds, but of old plant pots and volunteer plants from last year--these bugs will not come to the garden, advises WSU Extension.
Place some rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball and wipe the leave of a plant infested with spider mites. Leave the alcohol on for two to three hours and wash it off with a garden hose. You can also mix 3 tbsp. of dishwashing soap to 1 gallon of water and place the mixture in a spray bottle. Spray the entire plant, including the underside of the leaves. Wash off with fresh water after three hours and repeat every five to six days until the mites are gone.
Bury small bowls or jar lids throughout the garden, so the lip of the bowl or lid is just at ground level. Fill it with beer to trap slugs. Change out the beer ever three days to keep it effective. You can also hand pick slugs from the plants at night with a flashlight.
Mix 1 tsp. of vegetable oil with 1 tsp. of dishwashing soap in a cup of water. Place the mixture in a spray bottle. Water the plants first and then spray the entire plant with the solution. Wash off with fresh water after allowing it to sit on the plant for three hours. Repeat every three days until the aphids, eggs and larvae are gone.
Trap earwigs, pillbugs and sowbugs by wetting some paper towels, folding them up and placing them throughout the garden overnight. Remove the paper in the morning and discard by placing in a garbage can or soaking them in a bucket of water and dishwashing soap solution.