Homemade Insect Repellent for Vegetables

Written by christina shepherd mcguire
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Homemade Insect Repellent for Vegetables
Ground chilli pepper provides an excellent deterrent for garden insects. (Ablestock.com/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

Certain insects wreak havoc on organic vegetable gardens. Yet chemical pesticides can poison food and harm the health of your family. With a little ingenuity, you can implement old-fashioned repellent techniques into your cultivation. Using natural ingredients to make homemade sprays and poultices doesn't require much effort. And these bug deterrents often work better than chemicals to ward off invaders.

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Neem, a tree native to India and Pakistan, is an age-old insecticide and fungicide. As an herb it can be digested to treat colds and flu. As a repellent, neem mimics an insect hormone that deters pests and inhibits their digestion and reproduction. Buy dry neem seeds, which are sold at many health food stores. Grind the seeds into a fine powder. Mix the powder into water at a ratio of 5 grams of powder to 10 litres of water. Soak overnight and use.

Chilli Pepper

Chilli pepper is a natural bug deterrent due to its harsh smell and spicy taste. For a potent spray, dry two handfuls of chillies or purchase previously dried chillies. Grind them to a fine powder and soak overnight in 2 litres of water. Take care when using the spray. Capsican, the active ingredient in chillies, can burn leaves and kill young plants. Always run a test patch before applying the spray to the plant's entirety.

Stinging Nettle

Stinging nettle, an herb known to treat allergies and acne, also functions as an insect repellent in gardens. Use nettle in two ways. As a companion, plant nettle next to vegetables to create a barrier for insects repelled by their essential oils. To make a spray, cover 1 quart of nettles with water and ferment for three weeks. Strain the tea and mix one part tea with seven parts water.


Similar to chilli pepper, garlic repels pests due to its potent qualities. Garlic also has natural antibacterial and antiviral properties. Use garlic in companion planting or as an insecticide spray. For the spray, finely chop three bulbs of garlic. Soak the chopped garlic in 10 litres of water as long as two weeks. This spray is gentler on plants than the chilli spray. However, its effects last only one to three days. After that time, reapply.

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