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Jun 9, 2011 09:00 AM

Garlic Spray for Insect Control on Basil?

The insects are awful this year! Maybe it's because of all the rain earlier this spring, or (more likely, I think) the disappearance of the bats that used to live behind our shutters, but for whatever reason, we've got more insects on our deck area than I can ever remember having before.

I'm not much of a gardener, but I do have containers of herbs -- basil, parsley, cilantro and rosemary -- growing on my deck. The basil is being eaten, and not by me! I did a bit of Googling and found a few mentions of using homemade garlic spray to keep the insects off the basil. Has anyone successfully used this method of insect control? If so, do you have a "recipe" and a technique you can share with me? Or, do you have some other product -- homemade or store bought -- that works for you? Thanks!

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  1. Get a bowl of water. Wash your hands in it using a bar of pure soap (not detergent or liquid soap) until the water becomes cloudy and milky.

    Crush a couple cloves of garlic, mince up a hot chile pepper, toss them into the water and let it steep overnight. Drop some mineral oil into it, strain it, pour it into a spray bottle, shake, and you're ready to spray.

    The soapy water will kill any softbodies bugs that may still be on the plants by asphyxiating them.

    The garlic and hot chile will make the plants unpalatable for future bugs.

    And the mineral oil will help to adhere the spray to the leaves.

    Be aware that a good watering may wash this concoction off, so repeat as needed.

    You can also get a small cup or the lid of a jar, fill it with beer and vegetable oil, and set it out between your plants. If your issue are slugs/snails, they will drown themselves in the beer and you'll have a full lid to toss out in the morning.

    Hope this helps!

    1. I have a friend who takes two peices of wood and squishes the bug on the leaf (for large plants such as mustard greens). Then she leaves the dead bug on and this deturs other bugs of the same species from eating their own dead. This may sound gross but for smaller plants (like basil) she traps and catches the bugs then processes them in a blender (for garden use only) and sprays the plants. She has a degree in agriculture and has never steered me wrong. I personally would try the less messy garlic mixture first.

      1 Reply
      1. re: thewindycity

        Ok, so this might be a stupid question...I am always full of If your theory, or info, about leaving the dead bugs to detour bugs from eating a plant with their own dead is true... then I wonder if I shouldn't spray off all the dead aphids that my insecticidal soup killed. Usually I do a strong jet spray after I know they are all dead but maybe I will leave them on to scare their friends Ok, I warned you I had a stupid

      2. I want to spray something on my basil that I don't have to spend a lot of time washing off before eating it. That rules out soap. Any other suggestions?

        1 Reply
        1. re: pablosj

          Garlic and diatomaceous earth powder mix in liquid. It's actually what I have a tree care company do ground spraying around my house with instead of insecticide. If you have slug problems, try a pelleted iron phosphate bait on the ground nearby.