Bugs and worms may make their way into your garden and eat your tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum, zones 10-11) before you can. Rid your vegetable garden of these pesky critters with some all-natural bug and worm repellents as alternatives to synthetic pesticides.
Many different pests can wreak havoc on your tomato garden. The tomato hornworm and fruitworm are particularly destructive ones, feeding on the fruit and leaves of a tomato plant. Also be mindful of potato aphids, leaf-footed bugs, stink bugs, hornworms, silverleaf whiteflies and two-spotted spider mites as they can harm your tomato plants too.
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Make Hot Pepper Spray
This spray is an effective pest deterrent and is inexpensive to make. It can be used for most insects and pests that are making their home in your garden. It is particularly effective for aphids, Japanese bean beetles and squash bugs.
- Place 4 or more cayenne peppers in a blender. You can use hotter peppers, if desired, such as habanero or bird's eye peppers.
- Add 2 to 4 cloves of garlic.
- Mix in 2 tablespoons of olive oil or another vegetable oil of your choice.
- Pour in 2 to 3 cups of hot water.
- Combine all ingredients in a blender on high for a few minutes or until liquified.
- Pour the contents into a bowl and leave it overnight for a minimum of 12 hours. This will allow the full potency of the garlic and peppers to come out.
- Next, filter the liquid with a strainer, cheesecloth or towel. Pour it into a glass jar or container.
- Mix 2 tablespoons of the liquid with 16 ounces of water. If you need a bigger batch, mix 3 tablespoons of the liquid with 24 ounces of water.
- Shake the water and liquid together vigorously.
- Pour into a spray bottle for the best application.
Wear gloves when applying to avoid skin irritation. When using, spray directly onto the plants and repeat when needed. It can also be used preventively. Apply the spray as often as needed.
Try a Neem Oil Spray
Neem oil is primarily used to moisturize skin and make hair shiny, but it can also be used as an all-natural pesticide. This oil derived from seeds of the neem tree has a sulfur and garlic-like smell and is very bitter. It works well to deter tomato fruitworms and hornworms, whiteflies, aphids, flea beetles, mealy bugs, spider mites, cabbage worms, stink bugs, squash bugs and moths.
Mix neem oil according to label directions. Spray the mixture directly on the plant. Apply to the tops and undersides of the leaves. You may need to shake the mixture from time to time to maintain the consistency. As a bonus, use any remaining neem oil to treat your skin and hair.
If you have existing bugs on your tomato plants, apply the spray every seven days until you do not see any remaining bugs. If you are using it preventively, use every 14 days. Reapply after rain.
Wash the tomatoes thoroughly and use a vegetable wash before eating to remove any lingering spray. Using a DIY natural and organic pesticide is the safest and healthiest method for removing bugs and worms and preventing future infestations.