Controlling Garden Pests

After a couple years of battling pests in my garden whenever I’ve grown edibles, I finally just pared back to a few items that don’t attract critters to my balcony: sage, limes, tomatoes, pineapple sage, and lemongrass.

I’ve tried spraying water with a scant amount of dishwashing liquid, which damaged my plants. I also tried releasing ladybugs, and they didn’t help too much. Any suggestions? Thanks.

My go-to spray is a pint spray bottle, nearly filled with water, with a little bit of dishwashing liquid (I used Dawn, but I don’t think it matters…) and about the same amount of vegetable oil. Shake shake shake, and spray. I’ve never had any problems with it damaging the plants. How did the soap spray damage yours?

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Thanks for your reply, @kcshigekawa. I’ll have to try your method if I have another bug infestation. I’ve been slowly switching my plants over to cacti and succulents because they don’t seem to attract the critters and are drought-tolerant.

When I sprayed my plants with the water and dishwashing liquid concoction, the leaves turned yellow, and it didn’t seem like a case of overwatering. I’m not sure what the problem was…

Sounds like you burned the leaves with the dishwashing liquid.
The best stuff I’ve found to work is Palmolive bars (usually found in packs in the 99 cent store) or other natural soaps that don’t contain chemicals (Tom’s works too!). It’s less abrasive and won’t burn the leaves.

My method is some water, some soap (wash your hands in a bowl of water until fairly milky), a little sesame oil, and blended with a glove of garlic and hot chile. Let steep over night. Strain into a spray bottle.

The soap will kill pests on contact. The oil will help it to adhere to the plants and not immediately wash off. The garlic and chile will make the plant inedible to newer incoming pests.

Edit to add: I just realized you didn’t state what kind of pest problem you have?

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Yeah, your assessment sounds about right, @Novelli. When the critters return, I’ll try your concoction. By the way, sans the soap, it sounds like a cracking start on an Asian recipe.

I live on the Westside in Los Angeles, and my garden gets infested with tiny white or black bugs, possibly aphids, not sure.

Thanks again for your help!

A strong spray with the water nozzle dislodges a large portion of the blackmite colonies from the plants they are feeding on. Follow that with a healthy release of ladybugs (evening hours work best) to finish those aphids off.