Photo Credit to hello-julie on Flickr
Basil leaves are fabulous in many different recipes. They can also be used to get rid of flies, but what happens when your basil is attacked?
After doing a bit of research, I found that basil has its own set of enemies – enemies that like to feed on the basil leaves as much as we love to eat them. These enemies, normally bugs and caterpillars, can be gotten rid of naturally with only a few common household items – vinegar and dish soap.
- How to Keep Bugs Off Basil Plants
- Holes in Basil Leaves
- Basil Plant Leaves: How To Fix Holes In Basil Leaves
- What’s Eating My Basil Leaves?
- Holes in Basil Leaves and Basil Pests
- holes and gaps on basil leaves
- How to Grow Pest-Free, Healthy Basil
- How to prepare my herb garden
- More tips on growing basil
- What’s eating my basil plants?
- Natural Insecticides for Basil That Work Wonders for the Plant
- A Fine Sprayer Can Save Your Basil Plants From Aphids
- 6 Methods to Deter Insects from your Herbs
- A Free Ebook Just For You!
Get Rid of Bugs
To get rid of bugs (and caterpillars), you can use a few different mixtures. Keep in mind, these natural remedies to get rid of bugs on basil leaves have been used by people just like us and have in no way been scientifically proven.
That being said, what does science know anyway?
Vinegar and Water
Fill a spray bottle nearly full of water. Add just enough vinegar that it can be smelled lightly. Spray all over the basil leaves on the top and bottom. Rinse the basil leaves before eating. Try not to add this solution in the heat of the day.
Dish Soap and Water
Fill a spray bottle nearly full of water. Drop a few drops of dish soap into the bottle and give it a shake. Spray the tops and bottoms of the basil leaves. Be sure to rinse well before eating. Do this in early morning or late evening.
Oak Leaf Water
Some people have said they soak oak leaves overnight in a bowl of water then use the water to spay the leaves. They have also stated that it takes two to three days for this to work. The only thing to keep in mind when using this solution is that oak tree leaves and acorns are poisonous to horses, sheep, goats, and cattle.
Keep the oak water solution away from these animals, as it could be toxic if they drink the water or eat the leaves.
Have you had any luck with these or other natural solutions to get rid of bugs on basil leaves? Let us know.
About Annette Phillips
Annette Phillips has written 40 posts in this blog.
Annette Phillips is the owner of an online Christian magazine, Christian Magazine Today, a parenting site where she enjoys writing about toys and games (especially, toys for Christmas), and two blogs Sunday School Lessons of Plenty and Christ Is All I Need. Annette is also the author of several ebooks including: Willow’s Ride, Candle Making Tricks: How to Make Caked and Grubby Candles Using Basic Kitchen Items, a Children’s Bible Study Series, and Honey Recipes: A Cookbook Inspired by ADHD. She is also a professional web content writer, a Sunday School teacher, a stay-at-home home-schooling mom, a wife, and a licensed Cosmetologist.
- View all posts by Annette Phillips →
How to Keep Bugs Off Basil Plants
basil image by aliengel from Fotolia.com
Instead of sharing your delicious basil leaves with the insects, keep bugs off basil plants. Several different insects tend to infest basil plants, but an attentive gardener can keep the upper hand and prevent insects from desecrating a basil plant. Whether you have Japanese beetles, aphids or slugs attacking your basil plants, prevent them from destroying your basil so you will have a bountiful basil harvest.
Fill the Mason jar two-thirds full of warm water, and add two to three squirts of dishwashing detergent to create soapy water. Pick the Japanese beetles from the basil plants, and drop them directly into the soapy water. Continue removing Japanese beetles every time you find them, and place them into soapy water.
Spray insecticidal soap directly onto the basil leaves when you see aphids infesting your basil plants. Spray the leaves in early evening so direct sunlight from daytime sun will not bake the soap into the leaves and damage the basil plants. Check the undersides of the leaves as well, because aphids often cluster in these areas. Spray the basil plants with the insecticidal soap as often as necessary to control aphids.
Sprinkle diatomaceous earth liberally onto the soil around the basil plants to control slug populations. Because diatomaceous earth is a powder, shake it lightly to dust it over the basil and the soil. Applying the diatomaceous earth in the morning while dew still coats the basil plant will help it stick more readily. Reapply the diatomaceous earth after every rain shower.
Holes in Basil Leaves
Last year I planted basil in a pot on our deck. It wasn’t long before there were holes in the leaves. It looked like something was eating them. I wasn’t sure how to treat it and wanted to check with you before I buy some again. Thanks so much!
Slugs eat large ragged holes in the leaves of basil and many other plants. They feed at night and hide under mulch, plant leaves and rocks during the day. Trap and drown slugs using beer. Place the beer in a shallow dish sunk into the ground or use a half empty bottle laid on its side. The slugs are attracted to the fermenting yeast, crawl inside and drown. Sluggo and other slug controls with iron phosphate as the active ingredient can be used around food crops. Be sure to read and follow all label directions before purchasing and applying.
The four lined plant bug can also damage basil. They suck plant juices causing circular clear or black spots on the leaves. The dead tissue can eventually fall out resulting in small holes. Hand picking, if you are quick, and insecticidal soap can be used to control these pests.
Japanese beetles are the culprit when the leaf tissue is devoured and just the veins remain. You can’t miss these pests as they eat and mate in broad daylight. Pluck these insects off the plants and drop them in soapy water. Or try Neem. This eco-friendly product can help control small populations of Japanese beetles.
problems-pests-weeds slugs basil
Basil Plant Leaves: How To Fix Holes In Basil Leaves
A relative to mint, basil (Ocimum basilicum) has become one of the most popular, easy-to-grow and versatile of garden herbs. All basil is heat- and sun-loving, regardless of variety. Originating from India, basil plant leaves may be found in a plethora of cuisines from Italian to Thai and can be used to flavor foods, vinegars, oils, teas, and even to scent soap. However, you may sometimes be surprised to find holes or other basil leaf damage in basil leaves .
What’s Eating My Basil Leaves?
Generally speaking, basil plant leaves are not susceptible to many issues as long as you rotate plantings and maintain hygiene surrounding the plant. That said, you may on occasion notice that something is taking a nibble or two from your soon-to-be pesto. What basil pests are capable of this relentless infraction? Let’s learn more about the pests associated with most basil leaf damage.
Holes in Basil Leaves and Basil Pests
When gaps or holes in basil leaves have been discovered, the time for action is now! The most frequent assaulters of your precious basil plant leaves are Japanese beetles, slugs and aphids.
Japanese beetles are usually found for around a month during the summer. They ravage the tender leaf but do not eat the larger veins of the basil plant, leaving a lacy looking skeleton on your plant. Japanese beetles can be plucked from the basil plant with your fingers and squished or dropped into soapy water to dispose. You may also choose to cover plants with garden fabric to reduce the number of mature insects that feed on them, which can also include the grasshopper.
Slugs or Snails
Slugs, ugh, slugs! Slugs find the basil plant leaves almost as delicious as you do. They create ragged holes in the basil plant leaves after climbing up the plant. While basil plants like mulch to help retain the moisture they enjoy, it is also a conduit for the slugs. To retard those munching slugs, try sprinkling diatomaceous earth over the mulch. The diatomaceous earth scrapes the slug’s skin and causes it to dehydrate and subsequently die.
Products such as Bayer Advanced Dual Action Snail and Slug Killer Bait, Sluggo, Escar-Go, and Schultz Slug and Snail Bait must be reapplied after rain or watering. While not totally nontoxic, these products contain iron phosphate, which is significantly less harmful to pets, birds and beneficial insects than the more antiquated metaldehyde-containing products.
Aphids and Soft Bodied Insects
Soft bodied insects such as aphids, spider mites and whiteflies can be eradicated with insecticidal soaps like Bonide Multi Purpose Insect Control Soap, Safer Rose and Flower Insect Killer Concentrate, Safer Insect Killing Soap Concentrate and Concern Insect Killing Soap Concentrate. Most of these pests will be on the underside of the basil leaf and must have direct contact with the soapy spray to effectively eradicate them.
If you are interested in using a more environmentally friendly product, you may investigate Azadiractin, which is an extraction naturally produced by the Neem tree, and is also known to gardeners as neem oil. Products which contain Azadiractin include: Align, Azatin, Neemex and Omazin. These products provide the gardener with another option for controlling basil plant marauders.
Finally, remove any basil plant leaves with holes in them to avoid contaminating the rest of your plant. Chances are good that those damaged basil plant leaves harbor some type of pest vying for your next batch of Pesto Genovese.
holes and gaps on basil leaves
Good morning I have planted some basil plants in pots on my balcony about a month ago (I am on the 7th floor of a condo). Each pot has a tomato plant and a basil plant planted in it. Over the past couple of weeks I noticed that the basil leaves have “holes” and “gaps”. I do not see bugs on the leaves but the problem seems to get worse. I do not use any fertilizer or pesticide on my plants.
The pots get few of hours of sun in the morning between sunrise and about 9AM and then few hours in the afternoon after 4PM. I have grown basil on my balcony for 5 years and this is the first time I see the problem. Are the leaves safe to it, or do I need to remove the plants? If a problem exists, would it affect the tomato plants or other herbs I have in other pots? In addition I have another issue: in another pot I have planted a couple of zucchini plants about 3 weeks ago. Over the past 10 days or so I noticed some “black” stuff on it, not sure what it is (picture attached) Thank you in advance for any assistance you might be able to provide Best Regards Sara
How to Grow Pest-Free, Healthy Basil
You know the scenario …… You carefully purchased the best potting soil money can buy, you even bought a brand new pot to plant your beloved baby basil plants in; the pot color even matches your house, for cryin’ out loud! You put the stones for drainage in the bottom of the pot like the “experts” said – and now, the crowning glory ….. you scrupulously inspected each sweet basil plant at Home Depot until you found “the one” and you proudly place it in it’s new color-coordinated “newborn” nursery! Such a proud mom (dad)!
Fast forward two weeks. Things are going fantastic. Your new little offspring is now twice the size it was the day you brought it home from the basil “baby hospital”. You’ve meticulously watered it (unlike last year, when you forgot about it and went on vacation!) and made sure that it received lots of snuggly warm sun all afternoon. You are so proud! Your dreams are filled with basil recipes – Sweet Basil Vinaigrette, Roasted Tomato Basil Bisque, Mint Basil Syrup, Caprese Style Italian Chicken ….. Basil Rathbone …… Hold it! Rewind ….. Basil Rathbone? ….. wait a minute, what’s he doing in your dream?
It’s now four weeks into your newborn’s life, and one bright, cheery, sunny morning, you walk out to your garden and … ARGGGGGGGGHHHHHH! Your flourishing little green baby has been half consumed by some no good, dirty rotten, floor-flushing, blood-sucking …….. BUG! Does this scenerio sound vaguely familiar? I thought so. Bugs have been the bane of every gardener since Adam and Eve, and they always seem to strike just when you let your guard down, even for a minute! Since our recent Sweet Basil Vinaigrette post, Chris and I have received a lot of emails, comments and questions about what to do to keep your basil going and growing; so we decided to come up with some tips that will help you with growing your own herb garden. I’m talking specifically about basil today, but these tips apply to almost any herb.
Let’s take a look at some things we can do to grow strong healthy plants and wage war against these little Darth Vaders! First, let’s set the record straight, bugs are doing what God intended for bugs to do; eat things that taste good. If you and I like the taste of basil, why wouldn’t some lowly little starving bug? So … really … he or she is just doing their job and staying alive (cue the Bee Gees music?) Here’s a little checklist of things you can do before, during and up to basil harvest time to make sure you get more of the basil crop than the bugs, slugs and other garden thugs do; after all, we’re smarter than they are, right? A healthy plant will be able to fight off “invaders” far more than a plant that’s just struggling to stay alive.
How to prepare my herb garden
- Soil – dirt is the where all the nutrient action takes place, so go for the best you can get; most brand-name soils contain a great balance of organic matter, peat, (for water retention) and other good nurturing things. Today’s lawn and garden stores carry a wide variety of quality products. Or you can strap on your Birkenstocks, save your banana peels (and anything else that likes to decompose) and make your own soil – whatever floats your boat! If you really want to get scientific and you live in the U.S., you can also have your herb garden soil tested by your local USDA cooperative extension office. It’s an extra step, but very worthwhile. Adding fertilizers, whether organic or made by a company is always a shot in the dark if you don’t have a base line to start from.
- Take your Vitties! – just like Mom always told you to take your daily vitamins, you need to “read” your basil plants to see if they are really getting all the nourishment they need. Basil grown in pots especially needs to be regularly fertilized, since a lot of the nutrients get washed out the bottom drain hole of the pot each day. If your basil seems stunted (smaller leaves) or pale green, that’s a good sign that it’s not getting what it needs. I use Miracle Grow about once every 7 to 10 days, to feed my guys, because they live in pots that are automatically drip irrigated. They hang off the railing of our deck. Fertilization needs will change depending on which part of the season it is and how stressful a summer we’re having here in North Carolina, where temperatures can climb into the mid 90’s with lots of humidity. Within 24 hours after fertilizing, you literally see the plants, “jump” in growth. By the way, make sure you follow the directions about the concentration level of fertilizer to water; one of my friends recently fertilized (killed) his shrubs because he thought, “If a little is good than a lot is great!” Not a great plan.
- Drainage – most plants don’t like “wet feet”. Remember that comment about putting pebbles in the bottom of the pot? Actually, that’s a good idea. Cut a circle of black weed stop material and place it between the dirt and the stones, so the soil doesn’t end up plugging up the drainage hole. Here’s one more thing to watch out for; check the drainage hole periodically during the growing season to make sure it’s still doing it’s job. Sometimes the plant has such dense root growth, that it’s own roots choke off the hole, turning the pot into a muddy, stinky “swimming hole” – not good!
More tips on growing basil
- Use your Finger – Plants are a lot like you and I. We need a certain amount of liquid every day, throughout the day. But we don’t want to drink so much that we wash the good electrolytes out of our system. A good way to check for too much water in your herb garden? Use your finger to check the soil frequently – it should be slightly moist, but not squishy and spongy or crumbly and dried out. Your nose is also a good indicator, if it smells musty, too much water. If the leaves yellow, too much water. If the plant is wilting or shriveling up, give the poor thing a drink, it’s thirsty!
- Let It Shine, Shine, Shine – basil loves sunshine, so place your plants where they’re guaranteed to get 6 to 8 hours of warm summer sun. Basil is definitely a warm weather herb, so, if you live in a cooler climate, you may want to think about other herbs that are more cool-weather tolerant.This may seem obvious, but most of the people I’ve seen with underperforming herb gardens are clueless to the amount of sun each herb needs. If you have a garden or deck area that spends most of the day in the shade, basil’s not your plant. And remember, just like you and I are different, so are different varieties of herbs. Build a relationship with a nurseryman at your local (probably not big box) garden center …. or maybe a neighbor who has remarkable success in his/her gardens – they love to share.
- Time for a haircut! – When herbs start to blossom or get too “leggy” (tall) it’s time to give them a trim. Unless you “scalp” them most herbs will respond well and the part of the plant you leave behind will be stronger, fuller and less prone to little critters.
What’s eating my basil plants?
Your Adversaries – if you do all the things we’ve talked about above, you are setting up your basil for success. The strongest deterrent to pest damage is a healthy, strong plant to begin with, so, right now, give yourself a good pat on the back; you’re half way there!
- Bugs – these little guys are as numerous and varied as the stars in the sky. You’re going to have to do some study of your plant for a while to identify what type of bug is destroying your precious little basil (or any other herbs). Bugs are also tricky, shy and smart as can be when it comes to attacking your plants. Come out at night with a flash light, check in the morning and late in the afternoon, until you can see them actually “at work”, devouring your plants. Here in North Carolina there is a common cast of characters; white flies, mealy bugs (they’re the ones who look like a pile of white dust – until they walk away!), aphids, Japanese beetles, caterpillars and on and on. Each insect has a particular set of favorite herbs, time of season they are most likely to attack and ways to combat them. Study the instructions on most commercial organic and nonorganic pesticides and you’ll learn a lot. For our herb gardens, I use insecticidal soap spray, which you can get at any garden center, big box store, or hardware store. Some common brands? – Ortho Elementals, Schulz – Garden Safe Insecticidal Soap are the two I’ve used for the past several years with very good success. If you’re a creative DIY person, you can also Google “homemade insecticidal soap” (it’s actually a very simple mixture). Be proactive with the soaps and don’t wait till half of your plants are devoured. The nice thing about these soaps, is that you can use these sprays right up to the day of harvest without worrying about chemically-tainted herbs. Just make sure and give your herbs a good washing in water before using them, or you might be blowing soap bubbles after your delicious meal! Again, befriend a neighborhood gardener who has a true green thumb and ask the dumbest questions until you become the local “bug lady/man” expert! Here’s another website that might help: http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/
- Slugs– If you wake up one morning and discover your basil is beginning to resemble lace, with large “bites” or holes here and there, it’s probably slugs. These guys can do some real damage ….. and they’re the “stealth bombers” of the critter world. You don’t see them, because all their damage is done at night, by moonlight – and man, can they do damage – whole leaves, big parts of whole plants! If you ever catch them out early in the morning or just before dark, get ’em or they’ll get you, and your beloved basils. When you see a slimy one crawling towards your garden, have a box of Morton’s table salt available – a slight sprinkle and they’re history. Yes, I know that it’s a pretty graphic death, but it’s fast for them, and pales in comparison to the death and destruction they can cause your herbs. I regularly treat the main areas of my gardens (both herb and flower) with Bug-Getta Plus, by Ortho. I don’t put the granules on or near the herbs, but where I think the slugs are residing. It knocks out a large number of them long before they migrate to the basil. A couple of other tricks? A little beer in a small (as in a bottle cap, how convenient!) just level with the ground around the cap. Slugs are attracted and it knocks ’em out of the picture. Oh yeah, and if you notice your dog or your husband staggering around the yard, tell them to stay out of the beer traps!
- The Fungus Among Us – Just when you think you’ve got every creepy crawly creature under your belt (or gardening clogs!) along comes another “pest” – fungus and leave diseases. As with the 4, 6, and 8 legged buddies, knowledge and observation is a key here too. Again, if you underwater or overwater your plants, remember, you’re creating a shangri-la for most plant diseases. We can’t emphasis that enough. I use Ortho Elementals Garden Disease Control – it’s helps control a wide range of plant diseases. A great resource, of course, as always, is the web. Here’s a site, complete with “mug shots” of common diseases from the National Gardening Association.
Again, studying your plants and responding to their needs before they become a candidate for the trash can is always the best path. Happy herb gardening!
Natural Insecticides for Basil That Work Wonders for the Plant
Garlic spray, banana peel, dish soap solution, etc., are different natural insecticides for basil infested with aphids. One can get rid of nasty aphids and yet prevent the plant from encountering the harsh chemicals in chemical pesticides.
Originated in India, basil is an annual herb closely associated with Italian cuisine. This herb is grown for its fragrant and tasty leaves, and is consumed in both raw and cooked forms. Most people dwelling in tropical climates are seen cultivating basil in their vegetable gardens or small indoor pots. It’s a herb that grows all year round. Besides being a culinary herb, basil is also touted for its medicinal benefits. It’s also a wonderful insect repellent. However, what about those insects and pests that invade the basil plant itself?
Basil is an insect repellent herb and is used to repel various insects. However, when the life of its own plant is in danger, it requires the help of insecticides. Rather than rushing to the nearest chemist and purchasing some chemical pesticides, it is better to opt for less harsh solutions for the problem. Chemical pesticides comprise various toxic chemicals, which may directly or indirectly affect the life of living things.
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The greatest basil pest known are aphids; plant lice which are mostly seen attacking indoor plants. These plant sap sucking insects are one of the most destructive plant pests, as they cause a lot of damage to the phloem cells of the plant cells, which are responsible for the transport of food materials throughout the plant. This debilitates the plant and eventually conduces to its destruction.
Garlic spray is an effective natural insecticide that can be used for aphids control. To prepare this spray, blend one whole peeled garlic bulb along with two cups of water. Once the garlic has been finely pureed, dollop it out into a stored container and let it stand for a day. The next day, strain out the garlic pulp and separate the liquid. Add one gallon water to this garlic liquid and fill it into a sprayer. Spray this garlic water onto the leaves and stem of the basil plant. Do this regularly everyday for about a week. This will help repel aphids.
Aphids cannot stand bananas. One should take some banana peels and spread them around the basil plant. Aphids will not come near your precious plants. Moreover, banana peels decompose and combine with the soil, and their potassium and phosphorous content enriches the soil. This remedy is for outdoor basil plants, because cleaning up banana peels becomes bothersome for indoor basil plants.
White Mineral Oil and Dish Soap
In one cup of white mineral oil, add 2 tbsp. dish soap and 2 cups of water. Put this solution into a sprayer and spray it onto the basil plant. Do this every few days, until you find the aphid numbers receding.
If your basil is planted in your vegetable garden, then you could plant marigold plants in your garden as an aphid control measure. Marigold plants attract insects which eat aphids, and will help control the aphid population. You could also plant onion, garlic or chives in your garden to deter aphids.
Then there are slugs and beetles that attack outdoor basil plants. Depending on the kind of insect invading your plant, the kind of natural insecticide will vary. To prevent insect manifestations, it is important to keep your plants well watered and fertilized. Proper care will help reduce complications.
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A Fine Sprayer Can Save Your Basil Plants From Aphids
Even in the safety of your own home plants are still susceptible to an attack from a number of pests and disease. Basil in particular can be difficult herb to grow as issues of going to seed, overwatering and attacks by aphid can be common and deadly.
Aphids are recognisable on plants as tiny white specks, often found on the underside of leaves. They can appear overnight and if not treated can quickly spread and lead to an infestation of your crop. Aphids attack plants such as basil by living on the leaves and sucking the plants sap. This will overtime weaken the plant eventually killing it. The leaves most susceptible to attack are youngest and freshest and most succulent leaves. If you want to treat your basil plants for aphids it is important to pay particular attention to these areas.
To treat plants that you hope to eat for pest problems the number of options available to you are limited. There are a number of insecticides and pest control options that kill aphids but they are not something that you would want to eat with your basil. So with that in mind what options are available? Well aphids are in general easy to kill, the problem with aphids only occurs when an infestation occurs. To kill off large number of these bugs repeated and regular treatment over a number of weeks is required.
One way that you can get rid of your aphid problem is to spray them with a powerful water sprayer such as a pressure water sprayer. This will knock the aphids off the plant and drown them. However this will only kill less than half and repeated application is required.
A more delicate and accurate method that I use is to apply a water and washing up liquid mix to the leaves and affected areas of the plants. A cup of water and small squirt of washing up liquid works well, this should then be applied to the plant using a small painting bush. The smaller the bush the easier it is the get to those hard to reach parts of the basil plant – which generally has the most insects. This method kills the majority of insects but 4 applications over 2 weeks is still recommended. All indoor plants and herbs should be treated at the same time and those that have a severe infestation should be isolated from the healthy plants to prevent the problem spreading.
Generally if one herb or Basil plant is infested then it is most likely that all the others are too. Once the problem has passed you should stay vigilant as it only takes a few surviving aphids to start another infestation some weeks later.
Herbs tend to be relatively low-maintenance plants, which is one reason they are so popular to grow. They also add to our lives in more concrete ways like providing delicious additions to family meals, preventing infections for minor cuts or scrapes, and many other health benefits.
So it stands to reason that these wonderful plants haven’t gone unnoticed by other critters as well. A bug infestation is rare with herbs, but if it happens, it’s best to already have natural solutions on hand to deter insects from ruining your herb garden.
6 Methods to Deter Insects from your Herbs
Encourage Biological Predators
The circle of life is naturally occurring. Therefore, if you do have a pest infestation, eventually you’ll start to see the bugs’ natural enemies coming in. Some of these predators are all around good, like the praying mantis. They eat just about any insect they come across, so if you have pests, the mantis can have a meal.
Other beneficial bugs include ladybugs, which are partial to aphids. Birds will eat slugs, snails, earwigs, and a variety of other insects. Wasps help pollinate and will eat other bugs. Most varieties of wasps also aren’t aggressive if you leave them alone. Remember, if you have enough of a food supply, the predators will come.
Soap Spray—Your Number One Defense
If you have some bugs that just won’t leave, soap spray can be very helpful. Japanese beetles, for example, are terribly destructive to plants. However, in order to eat the plants, the beetles have to be able to hang on. Spraying insecticidal soap on your herbs prevents them from being able to do that.
For this particular soap spray mixture, you may also want to add a teaspoon of cayenne pepper and a little neem oil to give it a punch to munching bugs. Add 1 tablespoon dish soap to every quart of water. Be sure to spray from the top down.
You may want to make an effort to rinse off the leaves after harvesting if you’ve recently used this spray. However, the amount of soap used should be small enough that it won’t cause anyone harm, not even the smallest of humans! Just remember that if you bite a fresh leaf and it tastes a bit off, it could be the spray.
Neem oil is so versatile you should never be without a bottle of it. At the first sign of harmful insects on my plants, I spray a diluted solution of half neem oil and half water. The mixture should be shaken before every time you use it since it will naturally separate and sprayed on both sides of a leaf. It’s not advisable to consumer neem oil so make sure you do not spray it on the produce part of the plant that you plan to consume. Don’t make a lot because you’ll need to use the mixture within a week.
Use Essential Oils
Herbs are often fragrant enough on their own, but it might not always be enough. The prevention of pests in your herbs may need the occasional boost, and essential oils can provide that. Cedar oil has a strong scent, reminiscent of juniper. The powerful smell can help to ward off slugs, snails, aphids, and thrips, but don’t be surprised if you notice a decrease in other annoyances as well. If you have a furry friend, they may also appreciate the juniper smell, since it can help to deter insects such as fleas and ticks! Other oils that can help deter pests include citronella, lemon, orange, peppermint, garlic, tea tree, and lavender, just to name a few.
One of the easiest and most effective ways to apply the oils is to add a few drops to an 8 ounce glass spray bottle, shake and then spray on the leaves or surrounding areas around your plants. Essential oils can be harmful if ingested, so please do not use them when the produce part of the plant appears.
Companion Planting With Edible Plants
Companion planting is when you arrange your plants so they can help each other out. This is highly beneficial in all types of gardens and will help prevent the spread of disease or insect infestations. You can plant just herbs with each other, or you can turn it up a notch and mix your herbs and vegetables!
However, we’ll try and stay focused on using companion planting in your herb garden as a way to deter insects from reaching your edibles. Cilantro and dill will discourage spider mites and aphids, and chamomile will work to attract the right kinds of insects to your garden. Garlic planted nearby will help disguise the smell of rotting leaves that attracts Japanese beetles, and mint can help drive off ants.
Nematodes For Soil
Nematodes are a type of round worm that lives in the soil. For most of the world, nematodes are a naturally occurring species, and they are a wonderful preventative measure against pests in herb and other edible gardens. These microscopic insects are often considered a biological insecticide because they actively seek out and infect a broad range of insects — many of which are the larval form of garden pests.
The use of nematodes as an insecticide has not been shown to damage the soil in any way or wreak havoc on larger animals or insects that don’t bury eggs underground, such as bees.
If you’re starting an herb garden, prevention and proper maintenance are keys to keeping it happy and thriving. Knowing all about your plants, including what conditions they like, what they can be used for and even their histories from a cultural context are all important to helping your garden thrive. Learn more by looking into the courses offered here, and get started on a path of wonder, nature, and healing!
Ali Lawrence is a kombucha-sipping writer who focuses on healthy and sustainable living via her family blog Homey Improvements. She was born and raised in Alaska and dabbles in Pilates and is a princess for hire for kids’ parties.
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