Homemade organic pesticides for tomatoes


Tomato plants can suffer from insect infestations, including flea beetles, tomato hornworms and other leaf-chewing insects, aphids, whitefly and mites, as well as fungal diseases, such as early blight and powdery mildew. When growing tomatoes, you also have to battle common garden problems with weeds and pesky slugs. Make your own inexpensive organic pesticides to manage and control these tomato-growing challenges.

Insect and Mite Control
To manage problems with aphids and mites, try a pesticide made with rhubarb leaves. Simply boil rhubarb leaves in water for 20 minutes, and when cool strain into a spray bottle. A mild dishwashing soap can be added as well. For managing leaf-chewing pests, mix up mashed chili peppers, chopped onion and a head of minced garlic. Allow to steep in water for 24 hours before straining and spraying tomato plants. To curb attacks from tomato hornworms and other leaf cutters, make a mash of marigold leaves and flowers, and soak in water for 24 hours. Strain the solids, and add another 1.5 quarts of water plus a pinch of liquid castille soap before spraying. For problems with beetles, caterpillars, whitefly and any soft-bodied insect pest, use a mix of water, cayenne peppers and chopped horseradish root.

Fungal Prevention
Fungal diseases, like powdery mildew, can be prevented using a spray made of baking soda or potassium bicarbonate, horticultural oil and water. If you don’t have horticultural oil, citrus oil or molasses makes a good substitute. In addition, milk deters powdery mildew. Mix 1 part of milk to 9 parts of water in a spray bottle for easy application. Cornmeal also can be used to manage fungal infections. Mix 1 cup of cornmeal with 5 gallons of water, strain, and then spray on tomato plants. For warding off early blight, mix 2 tablespoons each of cooking oil, organic baby shampoo and baking soda with 1 gallon of water, and then spray both sides of the leaves for best prevention.

Other Garden Pests
To rid tomato gardens of weeds, try some home remedies. For the first, mix 1 gallon of vinegar with orange oil, molasses and liquid soap. The second option is to add 1 pound of salt to 1 gallon of boiling water. When using these weed killers, make sure they do not come in contact with tomato plants. They cannot discriminate between good plants and weeds. For managing troublesome slugs, add beer to shallow dishes placed low to the ground around tomatoes. Overnight, slugs will crawl in for a drink and drown.

Application Concerns
Always remember that any pesticide — whether homemade and organic or a commercial chemical product bought from the garden center — can be dangerous to humans and animals as well as to plants, if not used correctly. Rhubarb leaves, for example, are extremely poisonous and fatal if ingested. Sprays made with hot chili peppers can irritate skin and eyes and should not be inhaled. Oily sprays should not be applied to tomato leaves when in direct sun, or the plants can suffer sun damage. A good rule of thumb is to apply a pesticide to just a small area of the plant first as a test.


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