DIY Recipes for Gardeners: Make Your Own Pest Control Spray and Soil Mix

Author Stephanie Rose shares the inspiration behind her latest book, Garden Alchemy, and shows you how to create two DIY gardening essentials at home.

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April 21, 2020

Photo By: Quatro Publishing

Photo By: Susan Goble Wildflower Photography

Photo By: Crystal Allen

Photo By: Stephanie Rose

Photo By: Stephanie Rose

Photo By: Stephanie Rose

Photo By: Stephanie Rose

Photo By: Quatro Publishing

Start With the Soil

A successful garden always starts with the soil. How and what you feed your soil will determine how well your plants grow. Feeding your soil isn't rocket science — it's actually easy once you know the recipe. Garden Therapy founder Stephanie Rose shows you how to make your own organic garden essentials in her latest book, Garden Alchemy: 80 Recipes and Concoctions for Organic Fertilizers, Plant Elixirs, Potting Mixes, Pest Deterrents, and More.

BUY NOW: Amazon | Garden Alchemy, $15.37

Years of Study

Garden writer Stephanie's foray into gardening began in 2006. Stephanie came down with a debilitating illness from which her recovery took almost 10 years. "I used gardening to rehabilitate my body and my mind; a process that took many years but changed my life for the better," she explains. During those years, Stephanie studied organic gardening, permaculture and herbalism. "I nerded out on soil science and then tested the concepts to see how they performed," says Stephanie. "The results allowed me to repair sick landscapes into low-maintenance, thriving gardens many times over."

Learn More : Creative Genius: Stephanie Rose of Garden Therapy

Garden Therapy

"I've always been a DIY gardener,” Stephanie says. She shares her garden knowledge on her popular blog, Garden Therapy. In Garden Alchemy Stephanie brings together the concepts of soil science and regenerative gardening into easy and accessible DIY projects that anyone can do in their garden. "My hope is that readers will realize that it takes less work, less effort and less money to work with nature," Stephanie says.

What Is Alchemy?

Alchemy is an ancient branch of natural philosophy that focused on the transformation of base metals into gold, discovering a cure for disease and a way to extend life. “When I give my garden talks, I often make the same comparison to gardeners and alchemists,” Stephanie explains. “They experimented and observed the natural world to learn how it worked and learned a lot.”

Customize for Your Garden

Stephanie took cues from nature when it came to developing her garden recipes. The recipes and experiments in Garden Alchemy help gardeners customize the amendments for their garden, often using organic materials provided by nature to make gardening easier, less time consuming and economical. "I set up Garden Alchemy like a cookbook," Stephanie explains, "so that the recipes can be browsed and chosen based on what the individual needs are for a garden space."

DIY All-Purpose Soil Mix

One of the recipes Stephanie uses year after year in her garden is the All-Purpose Peat-Free Soil Mix. She prefers to steer away from peat moss in her soil mix because the extraction of peat is a major contributor to greenhouse gas. Instead, she prefers to use alternatives such as coconut coir.

To make your own all-purpose soil, you will need:

  • 2 parts screened compost
  • 2 parts peat moss alternative (like coconut coir)
  • 1 part perlite
  • 1 cup worm castings (234 ml) per gallon (3.8L) of prepared mix
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) greensand per each gallon (3.8L) of prepared mix
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) kelp meal per each gallon (3.8L) of prepared mix

Combine the ingredients in a large bin or directly into a raised garden bed or containers. The all-purpose potting mix is already naturally fertilized with the compost, worm castings, kelp meal and greensand.

DIY Pest Control Spray

Stephanie also shows you how to create your own natural pest deterrent spray using ingredients in your garden and pantry. Edibles such as garlic and peppers are often found in commercial pest sprays. Adding fresh herbs to the mix helps deter a host of critters.

To create a mix that helps keep aphids, flea beetles, squash bugs, ants and whiteflies at bay, blend together six whole garlic cloves, one to two chili peppers and a half cup of chopped fresh mint. Once blended, cover with water with fill the blender halfway and blend the mixture once more until thoroughly liquified. Add more water until the blender is two-thirds full and blend again. Wear a pair of gloves to strain the mixture, being sure to avoid skin contact. Add a tablespoon of castile soap and stir. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle. Shake well before use. Use the deterrent when you see pests on your plants.

BUY NOW: Amazon, $13.49

Keep Pests at Bay

Different herbs are more efficient than others, depending on the pest. Basil will keep whiteflies and asparagus beetles away, rosemary will protect your beans form the notorious Mexican bean beetle, and aphids and spider mites hate the smell of cilantro. You can target your specific pests by using common herbs in your garden.

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