Homemade Garden Bug Spray With Essential Oils

I have a medically complex son, with special needs.  My garden is full of plants that will go to make his blenderized diet.  Because of this, I don’t want to have to use chemical sprays to control the bug population in my garden.  As a result, I’ve tried pretty much everything, and finally have found a winner with my Homemade Garden Bug Spray.

What Didn’t Work In My Garden

I started out using a simple diluted blue dish soap recipe. It didn’t do much of anything. Scratch that one off the list.

Next, I went to Neem oil. What nobody tells you about Neem oil is that it stinks to high heavens. I’m talking a stomach turning stench that stinks to the inside of your nostrils even after you’ve taken a shower. Blech. While Neem does indeed work, even on squash bugs, I just couldn’t handle the smell.

Homemade Garden Bug Spray

A New Take On An Old Recipe

I have found variations of this recipe all over the internet, using fresh mint leaves and peppers.   Unfortunately,  I don’t always have fresh mint leaves and pepper on hand. However, I do ALWAYS have peppermint essential oil on hand.   While the actual ingredients used are important, the amounts of those ingredients can be increased or decreased depending on your garden’s needs.

How This Recipe Works

This natural bug spray works because of it’s spicy scent. It deters bugs by making the plant leaves something they don’t want to eat. Also, if they rub up against it, it can kill them.

Homemade Garden Bug Spray With Essential Oils Ingredients For LARGE Gardens

*this list contains affiliate links

Separate the cloves and peel 2 LARGE HEADS of Garlic.   Not those little measly things.

1 Tablespoon Dried Cayenne Pepper

16 Cups Water (1 Gallon)

2 Squirts Biodegradable Dish Soap *this post contain affiliate links

Young Living Peppermint Essential Oil  *To Be Added Just Before You Use The Homemade Garden Bug Spray With Essential Oils

Pro Tip:  My FAVORITE essential oils are Young Living Essential Oils.  Here is how to order Young Living Essential Oils.

The Method

Mince the garlic. Add garlic and red pepper to water and simmer. Remove from heat and allow to sit over night. Strain out the dried cayenne pepper and garlic, and add 2 squirts of dish soap. Pour into 1 Gallon Container.

I wait to add the peppermint essential oil until right before I go to use the spray. You can put this mixture into a clean *this post contains affiliate links gallon sprayer if you’ll be using it all in the same day or so.

Adding The Peppermint Essential Oil

I use 1 drop of Young Living Peppermint Essential Oil for every 2 ounces of the garlic/dish soap/pepper liquid. So, for a gallon of the liquid, that would be 64 drops.

However, my garden isn’t big enough to need an entire gallon of homemade garden bug spray. So I usually only make about 1/4 of this recipe at a time. Here’s what that looks like.

Backyard Garden

Recipe For Homemade Garden Bug Spray With Essential Oils For Smaller Gardens

1/2 of a LARGE head of garlic, pealed and crushed.
1.5  Teaspoons Dried Cayenne Pepper
4 Cups Water
1 Squirt Dish Soap
16 drops Young Living Peppermint Essential Oil added right before you use this bug spray.

Pour mixture into a *this post contains affiliate links glass spray bottle, which is what I use,  or another hand sprayer.

As you can see this isn’t a recipe that depends on exact measurements.  You will need to shake the bottle well, and several times in between use.

A Few Cautions

TEST THIS SPRAY OUT ON A FEW PLANT LEAVES BEFORE YOU SPRAY IT ON YOUR ENTIRE GARDEN.  While this is a perfectly safe recipe, it’s always a good idea to do a bit of a spot check.  Spray a few plant leaves, wait a day, and check those leaves out before you spray your entire garden.

This is actually a pepper spray. Don’t get it in your eyes or on your skin. Wearing protective gear is a good thing.

Don’t spray right before a rain storm or during windy weather. Don’t overhead water right after you spray, either. This spray WILL wash off and you’ll need to reapply it.

Make sure you spray the underside and tops of the leaves. Most bugs, and their eggs, hang out under the leaves. Don’t spray the flowers. You don’t want the bees getting into this stuff.

So, what do you use to keep garden pests from devouring your garden?  Let me know in the comments!

Looking For More DIY Essential Oil Recipes?

Homemade DIY Gardeners Soap With Essential Oils

Simple DIY Facial Toner With Essential Oils

DIY Manuka Honey Recipe For Preppers

Embossed Soap Making Tutorial

Lavender Charcoal Soap DIY Homemade Soap Recipe

How To Oder Young Living Essential Oils

Beginning Backyard Vegetable Gardens

Beginning backyard vegetable gardens are gaining popularity.   The benefits of vegetable gardening go way beyond simply saving money.  Let’s face it, there is nothing like the taste of a homegrown tomato.  Here’s a guide to getting your backyard garden growing.

 Beginning Backyard Vegetable Gardens


What Is Your Growing Zone?

This is an important one.  Your Growing Zone lets you know what you can plant, and when the best time to plant it is.  For example, while I would love to plant an avocado tree in my back yard, my growing zone lets me know that isn’t the best idea.

Look up and learn about YOUR growing zone!

 What To Plant In Beginning Backyard Vegetable Gardens

When deciding what to plant in beginning backyard vegetable gardens, it’s best to start small.  You can always increase what you grow next year, when you have a bit of experience under your belt.

First, look at what your family eats.  Remember that plants like cucumber, tomato, squash and others produce all year long.  While carrots, radishes, and corn only provide a single harvest.

Pro Tip:  Did you know that in order to grow all of the vegetables you family would need for a year, you would need to grow about 450 pounds of veggies per person.  Not ready grow that much in your beginning backyard vegetable gardens?  You may be interested in stocking your pantry with some freeze dried fruits and veggies.  We’ll show you how you can order Thrive Freeze Dried Food!

blackberries in beginning backyard gardens

What Type Of Gardening Works The Best?

There are several gardening techniques to choose from. Here’s a quick review of the most popular choices.

Container Gardening

Depending on the size of your family and what you have chosen to grow, a container garden might be your best idea.  There are even specific plants at the nursery geared specifically for container gardening.  Bonus!  You don’t even need a yard for a container garden.  A patio or balcony will work too.

PRO TIP:  Want to learn more about Container Gardening?  I highly recommend The Vegetable Gardener’s Container Bible by Edward Smith.  This book, plus his The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible are must haves in my humble opinion.

Raised Bed Vegetable Gardens

Raised vegetable gardens makes gardening easier.  Especially for more (ahem) mature gardeners of those with bad backs.

Does your backyard have poor soil?  Raised gardens could be your answer.   This is the situation we found ourselves in after building our current home.  Dig an inch down in our backyard and you hit solid rock.

Using cinder block ‘seconds’ my husband built a raised garden bed that we then filled with a few loads of good soil and a bunch of organic matter.

Smaller raised gardens won’t require tilling.  However, due to the size of ours, we still till.

PRO TIP:  Thinking of building your own raised beds?  Raised Bed Revolution has all the details you’ll need!


Beginning Backyard Vegetable Gardens

Traditional Gardening

Many still choose to garden by removing the top grass from our chosen garden spaces, and then tilling and amending the soil before planting.  My Dad grew up in an orphanage where if they didn’t grow it, they didn’t eat it.  This is still his preferred means of gardening.  It works for him as he has 6 acres to spread out on.

Pro Tip:  Regardless of which gardening method you choose, you will want to understand the quality of your soil.  Once you know more about your soil, you’ll know what amendments it might need. *this post contains affiliate links  A soil testing kit can provide you with this important information.

Lasagna Or No Till Gardening Method

This method works for both raised garden beds or gardening directly on the ground.  Bonus!  No tilling……ever!

With this method you kill off the grass and weed seeds by using thick layers of cardboard or newspaper directly on the ground. Personally, I’d lay down a sweet layer of Visqueen under the cardboard to help keep those weeds from sprouting and growing up through your bed.

Next, you build your garden up by adding alternating layers of peat, topsoil, aged manure, mulch, grass and yard clippings. Before you know it, you’ve got a nutrient rich soil to plant in.

PRO TIP:  I love the Lasagna Gardening book by Patricia Lanza.  I think you will too.

Beginning Backyard Vegetable Gardens

Where Will Your Garden Grow?

The location of your garden will be very important to it’s success.  Here are some things to consider.

Drainage You want your garden in a part of your backyard that drains well. If drainage is a concern, you will want to think about raised gardening rather than gardening directly in the ground.

Sunlight Vegetables and most herbs require at least 6 hours of direct sunlight. Take the time to see how much sun each section of your yard gets during the summer.

Water I remember watching an episode of Little House On The Prairie where Laura had to carry bucket after bucket of water to her newly planted apple trees in the blazing sun of summer.

You won’t have to worry about lugging water to your beginning backyard vegetable gardens if you choose a spot that is close to a convenient source of water.

Direct Sowing Or Ready Made?

Congratulations!  You’ve picked your spot, and created your plot!  Now it’s time to get planting!   But….should you plant seeds or go to the nursery and buy plants.  Well, this is a bit of a personal decision, but I’ll share what I do.

Beginning Backyard Vegetable Garden Peas

I direct sow the following:

Vegetables  squash, broccoli, beans, leafy greens, melons, peas, onions (from onion sets), and beets and other root vegetables.

Herbs  cilantro, parsley, basil, and chives.  The nursery is my friend when it comes to herbs.

I purchase ready made for my tomatoes and peppers.  If you would rather not go to the nursery here’s more information on Starting Seeds Indoors  and Starting Seeds Indoors: Germination.

Where To Find The Best Seeds

Wondering where to find the best seeds? Just because I love you guys so much, I’m sharing my Favorite Garden Seed Sources! *muwah*

Here’s the thing.  Gardening is truly on of those learn as you go activities.  Do something that kills  off all of your cucumbers this year?   Well, I bet you won’t do that again next year, now will you?  heh.

Go.  Have fun.  Take notes on what works and what doesn’t.  And feel free to ask any questions in the comment section below.

How To Make The Most Of Survival Seeds

“I bought these survival seeds so that I can grow all my own food when the SHTF”.

I hear this a lot.   Often from people who have never planted  a seed in their entire lives.   Experienced gardeners must be doing a terrific job of making their work look super easy for so many people to figure that if the world were to explode, they could just till up a little bit of dirt, throw out their package of  survival seeds, and viola!, dinner is served.

There’s a whole lot of people in denial out there folks.  A whole lot.

Many of these people couldn’t even tell you what type of seeds are in that survival  seed kit, or if their family even likes those vegetables.

How To Make The Most Of Survival Seeds


How to make the most of survival seeds.

1.  Do your researchHow much land you have will determine the type of garden you’ll create.

Suburban homesteader?   Check out All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew,  Mini Farming:    Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre by Brett L. Markham, and The Backyard Homestead by Carleen Madigan.

Urban homesteader?   Grow what you need in pots!  The years my family spent living in a major city in Turkey we grew in pots on our balcony.  The Vegetable Gardener’s Container Bible will get you started.

Another strategy would be to sprout your seeds for fresh eating.  Ann Wigmore leads the way in teaching about sprouts and their health benefits in The Sprouting Book.

Ready for the Big Leagues?   You’ve got your land, paid your dues and ready to go off grid?  Here’s a few resources to take a look at:  The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery, John Seymour’s The Self-Sufficient Life, and Abigail R. Gehring’s classic, Back to Basics would be good places to start.


2.  Gain some real life, hands on gardening experience……..NOW.

Gardening has always been a part of my life and my husband grew up tending his grandparents  acres and acres of garden. That’s a lot of gardening hours and we still have years that where certain things are total flops.  Let’s face it, you learn from your mistakes.  Take that time to make those mistakes now, rather than in an emergency situation.

3.  Make friends with other gardeners.

Pick their brains for gardening information specific to your location.   Trust me, gardeners love a willing audience.



Save your own survival seeds!

Every gardener should learn how to save seeds.

The day might come when ordering your seeds on the internet is no longer a possibility.   Suzanne Ashworth and David Cavagnaro’s Seed to Seed:  Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardens., is a must have for any gardener.


Want to know my very best advice in regards to creating a plan for using your survival seeds?

If your personal emergency comes about in the dead of winter, what will you eat?  What will you eat while your garden is making it’s way to harvest?

Food security can’t be found  in a box of survival seeds.   Experienced gardeners would find it challenging to grow everything  to keep body and soul together for a year.   Factor in the amount of physical work growing all your food would require and, well, you get the idea.

Survival Seeds can be an excellent ‘Plan B’

Keep growing those gardens! Plant those fruit trees and berry bushes!   Gardens are a major  component of your food storage plan.   A wonderful, healthy, financial friendly, much needed component, that helps free up much needed cash  you can use to buy your three months supply of what your family normally eats, and then a year’s worth of longer term food storage.

‘Cause thinking when the SHTF you’ll  rip up your lawn and grow everything you need with that box of survival seeds, simply ain’t  going to keep your family fed.

How do you plan to feed your family in case of an emergency?































Starting Seeds Indoors: Germination

Starting seeds indoors? Really? Already? If you are like me, and still having huge storms at the end of March, it may be hard to remember that it is time to get those seeds started indoors! But believe it or not, it is.

Steps for Starting Seeds Indoors:

  1. Buy fresh seed-look for the date stamp on packet. Remember that many preppers buy more seed than needed to store. If you are going store left over seed make sure to leave them in a cool, dark place and clearly mark them.
  2. Pick a date- I like to start my peppers and tomatoes the first week of April. Here in the Denver area many people use Mother’s Day as the planting date but I have seen too many late May snowstorms blow in and I feel safer with a Memorial Day plant date. Your outside plant date needs to be shortly after the danger of frost has disappeared in your area. Once you have your ‘plant outside date’ you need to read the seed packet carefully. The seeds below should be started 5 1/2 weeks before your desired plant outside date. Starting seeds indoors: how to read seed packet
  3. Gather your seed germination supplies.

    In addition to seed, you will need:

    • this list contains Amazon Affiliate Links. 
    • Drip Tray
    • Dome cover or plastic wrap for humidity. You can buy these or use plastic cake covers like what you would get when buying cupakes (ask your bakery or treat the kids)
    • Jiffy Peat Pellets or
    • Root riot starter cubes or
    • soil-less, sterile seed starter mix like Fertilome or EKO
    • chopsticks or a sharpened pencil

    I found Jiffy Peat Pellet trays with the domes and pellets on sale at Lowes for $6 so I decided to use those this year. You can also get them on Amazon. 
    how to get seeds started indoors using jiffy peat pellet trays

  4. Plant your seeds at the right depth-after you follow the directions on watering your soil less starters you need to refer back to your seed packet for the right planting depth. The seeds we were looking at above need to go in at 1/4″. Get a chopstick or a sharpened pencil and measure that mark on your planting stick. Now use it to make a hole in the center of each pellet just to that depth, place a seed in and lightly cover it up. The number one thing people do wrong in the germination process is bury seeds too deep.
  5. Provide the right heat and light. For most plants (especially tomatoes and peppers) you are going to want to use a heat mat under the tray to keep them warm enough. These are usually around $30 and are designed to fit one planting tray. They last forever and I consider them a good investment.
  6. Water often but carefully. Use a mister to water your seedlings. You want the tops slightly damp but don’t soak! Mold will become a problem under those domes so make sure to check for too much condensation. If it starts to look like a rainforest under there you will need to vent them. You should be able to see through the domes with a light layer of condensation on the top.how to get seeds started indoors by germination with heat mat and dome
  7. Check your seeds often. It seems like nothing happens for days and then all of a sudden you have plants on your hands! A baby seedling popping up after getting started indoors. As soon as plantlets start to pop up you need to move them to a south facing window or put them under grow lights. I use full spectrum grow lights that are set to 3″ above the leaves for 12-14 hours a day. I just don’t get enough sun for them in a window.
    plants starting under grow lights
  8. Water. Use warm water and water from the bottom up. Let the seed trays do the work. Mist your plants often as most seedlings like 50-70% humidity. I like to put the domes back on at night when I shut the lights off.
  9. Fertilize: Once the seedlings have developed their first set of true leaves fertilize with a half strength liquid fertilizer.
  10. Pet your seedlings. I know this sounds crazy but you are trying to harden them off from the winds they will have to face outside. Just open your palm and run over the tops gently.
  11. Get ready to move them to larger pots. I am just about to move these artichokes, rosemary and butterfly over to bigger pots so I can get my tomatoes and peppers started. I’ll post those pictures as soon as I do.