British Columbia

Make your own organic pest control for the garden

Horticulturalist Estelle Bogoch demonstrates how to make some deadly concoctions at home that will help keep your plants bug-free.

Bug problems in the garden? Try these easy homemade pest control recipes

Do you have a bug problem in your garden? We've got a few solutions for you...and the answers may be right in your kitchen. Horticulturalist Estelle Bogoch-Stelmach teaches people how to make their own pest control from everyday ingredients. 

She says it's better to use organic pest control methods rather than buying chemicals at the store, because some of those chemicals end up in our food system, and they can kill garden-friendly insects such as pollinators. Her rule is: if you can eat it, then it's safe to use in the garden. 

Here are a couple of recipes she wants to share.

Insect spray: for soft-bodied bugs such as aphids and ants.

  • 1 large, very sharp onion.
  • 3 cloves garlic.
  • 1 tbsp. hot sauce.
  • Dash chili powder.
  • Dash cayenne pepper.


  • Discard skin from onions & garlic.
  • Chop onions and garlic into small pieces.
  • Add all ingredients to blender.
  • Fill blender with water, leaving about one inch at top, blend well.
  • Strain at least twice through a sieve to remove solids.
  • Discard solids or use as a soup base!.
  • Store liquid concentrate in a glass jar in the refrigerator, until needed
  • Discard after one season

To Use:

  • In a spray bottle, add two inches of concentrate and one inch of liquid dish washing soap and enough water to make spray come out easily through sprayer (bottle can be kept at room temperature). 
  • Spray directly on the bugs to kill them.

Slug Dough

  • ½ cup flour 
  • 3 tbsp. cornmeal 
  • ½ tbsp. yeast
  • 1 tbsp. molasses
  • 1/3 cup water


  • Mix first 4 ingredients well.
  • Add water slowly and blend well as water is being added (should look like bread dough).
  • Place into plastic sandwich bag with sealable top.
  • Place on top of refrigerator (or in a warm place) and let it rise overnight. 
  • Place into small deli container with four (1 inch x 1 inch) holes cut into top and replace cover to prevent rain from getting in.
  • Sink into the ground up until bottom of holes.
  • Replace entire container and slug bait each week.

Other tips from Estelle

  • Keep tabs on your garden so you know when you have a bug problem. 
  • Soap attracts the sun on the leaves, so make sure you give your plants a shower after you've sprayed them.

Estelle likes to grow a lot of chives and plants in the onion family to help keep the bad bugs away. And sometimes she says you don't need any pest control — just let the plants be, even if they've got a few bug bites. The only case in which she would use pest control is for vegetables. If a plant dies, it's not the end of the world.