Our new greenhouse has drastically expanded our short growing season…
But it’s also expanded my garden challenges.
Especially when it comes to pests– something I usually don’t have to worry *too* much about, considering we garden in the arctic (aka Wyoming)…
The Surprise Guests in My Greenhouse…
The kids ran into the house one March afternoon announcing there were tiny eggs all over my spinach.
Honestly, I ignored it at first. After all, the temps were still well below freezing, and any insect wouldn’t dare to make an appearance this early in Wyoming.
I realized the error of my thinking one afternoon when I took my colander out to harvest spinach for supper. Not only were the leaves covered in eggs, they were also crawling with tiny green bugs.
I’ve never really had to deal with aphids here in Wyoming before… I mean, sure, I might have seen one or two on occasion, but NOT the infestation I was seeing on my poor spinach plants in the greenhouse…
But alas, there I was… needing to come up with a quick fix for those little boogers.
But sadly, the aphids weren’t my only problem.
I also noticed a steady stream of ants crawling over the plants with the thickest layer of aphids.
Apparently ants go hand-in-hand with aphids. Who knew?
Turns out, ants are actually aphid “farmers.” Ants somehow maintain aphid herds because they eat the sticky residue that aphids leave behind. (source).
And judging by the army of ants accompanying my aphids, it appeared to definitely be true.
Usually, when I think of aphids, I instantly think of ladybugs.
Ladybugs are the sworn enemy of aphids and a fantastic permaculture solution to controlling these garden pests.
You can often purchase bags of ladybugs in garden stores and I’ve instructed the kids to carefully transport any ladybug they see to the greenhouse so they can have an aphid feast.
However, when I first discovered the infestation, the temperatures were too cold for ladybugs to survive (even in the greenhouse), so I knew I had to find a different method.
Homemade Aphid Repellent Spray
While I’ve battled garden bugs in the past (usually cabbage moths or potato beetles) ants and aphids were a new enemy. Thankfully, in all the reading I do, I recalled coming across some simple concoctions for repelling these garden pests.
My organic pest control spray is one option (it uses onions and garlic to deter critters), but most of the time, insecticidal soap is recommended for aphid control as well as other smaller insects.
You can purchase insecticidal soap at the lawn and garden store, OR you can make it yourself for a few pennies.
Here’s the recipe I’ve been using in my greenhouse:
My DIY Aphid Bug Spray for the Garden
Makes 1 quart of spray
You will need:
- About 1 quart of water
- 1-2 tsp liquid soap
- 20-30 drops peppermint oil
Add 20-30 drops of an essential oil. I chose peppermint because most bugs hightail it outta there when they get a whiff of the menthol in peppermint, especially ants. Shake it up a bit, and you’re good to go!
I mixed mine up in a mason jar and added this mason jar spray lid. I use these lids for any animal/farmyard sprays, garden sprays, or homemade cleaners. They have a million +1 uses for a homesteader, not unlike mason jars.
And anything that makes a mason jar more useful around the farm scores a few bonus points with me. In fact, they’ve given me lots more ways to use my jars. (Who’da thought that was even possible?)
A Few Notes about Using Any DIY Bug Spray in the Garden
- Any time you’re trying out a new spray, make sure to test your spray out on a small section of a plant or two to make sure it’s not going to burn or kill your plants.
- Avoid spraying anything on your plants during the heat of the day, since the intense midday sun can kind of fry your garden plants, even if the spray you’re using is totally harmless in and of itself.
- Any old spray bottle you can scrounge up will do the trick, but if you’re looking for a neat garden kit, look no further than right here.
DIY Bug Spray for the Garden
About 1 quart of water
1–2 tsp liquid soap
20–30 drops peppermint oil
Fill a quart jar with water.
Add 20-30 drops of an essential oil, I chose peppermint because most bugs don’t like the menthol in peppermint, specifically ants.
Shake it up a bit, and you’re good to go!
Be sure to test the spray in a small area before using it liberally.
Watch Me Make My DIY Aphid Spray Recipe
On this video, I’ll show you my top THREE secret weapons for fighting bugs in my garden, which includes the above spray and two other options as well!
Prefer to listen to content? Check out the Old Fashioned on Purpose Podcast.