Conventional pesticides can be both expensive and dangerous. Many of them use ingredients that are toxic to both humans and pets. When growing vegetables, this is especially concerning because trace amounts of the pesticides may turn up in or on the vegetables they are meant to protect. However, there are a number of household items that can be used as a substitute for chemical-laden pesticides. Most of these options are nontoxic and will cause very little damage to the soil.
Oil spray is effective for treating plants against immature insects and to ensure that insect eggs do not hatch. This method includes combining 1 cup cooking oil with one tablespoon dish soap. Use 2 tbsp. of this mixture per cup of water and treat both sides of the plants leaves. Eggs can often be found on the underside of foliage. According to Pays to Live Green, a website devoted to both earth friendly living and economic household hints and tips, this oil mixture is safe for plants and people.
Pepper is a well know deterrent of both insects and four-legged creatures. There are two basic methods for using pepper as a pesticide. Cayenne or other hot pepper can be sprinkled in circles around plants to deter animals that will walk through the pepper and then lick the mixture from their feet, causing a burning sensation. Reapply after it rains. However, Pays to Live Green recommends making a pepper spray by combining ½ cup hot pepper, ½ cup garlic cloves along with 2 cups water. Allow the mixture to steep for 24 hours and then spray the affected plants liberally. This will prevent most bugs from infesting the plant.
Homemade Best Made, a household resource published by Reader's Guide, states that aphids, mealy bugs, mites and scales can be contained by making an ammonia spray. Combine 1 part ammonia with 7 parts water and spray the plant liberally to kill any current bugs as well as ensure that any eggs laid along the plant or in the top soil do not hatch.
Crushed egg shells are effective against slugs and snails. According to Ayushveda's online magazine entitled Health and Style, the shells act like broken glass to deter these bugs. The site recommends mixing small amount of salt in with egg shells if egg shells alone do not take care of snails and slugs.
Snails and slugs love beer. In addition, other pests such as beetles are likely to indulge in this beverage. Place saucers of beer close to the vegetable plants and empty them frequently.