The very idea of gardening helps us feel healthier. We’re growing our own food, right? You can’t get better than that! But here’s the hard truth: Gardening can involve a lot of harsh chemicals if you’re doing it “right.” Most gardeners use chemicals to get rid of bugs so that the plants actually grow, so that they can have healthy food to put on the table. The problem lies in those pest control sprays that are infecting the food—and not actually helping our health. So let’s stop defeating the purpose of growing our own produce and use some natural methods to enhance the health of our homegrown food.
It’s time to throw out the chemicals! Essential oils are a great addition to your gardening regimen, especially because they are great at repelling pests. Here are some oils that work well at repelling the following bugs:
Ants: black pepper, peppermint, spearmint
Aphids: cedarwood, hyssop, peppermint, spearmint
Beetles: peppermint, thyme, oregano
Caterpillars: spearmint, peppermint
Chiggers: lavender, lemongrass, sage, thyme
Fleas: peppermint, lemongrass, spearmint, lavender
Flies: peppermint, lavender, rosemary, sage, tea tree
Gnats: patchouli, spearmint, eucalyptus
Mosquitoes: lavender, lemongrass, citronella
Moths: cedarwood, eucalyptus, lavender, peppermint, hyssop
Plant Lice: peppermint, spearmint
Slugs: cedarwood, hyssop, pine
Snails: cedarwood, pine
Spiders: peppermint, spearmint
Ticks: lavender, lemongrass, sage, thyme
Weevils: cedarwood, patchouli, sandalwood
Do you have bugs or birds eating your garden produce this year? Try cooking up this garden spray and giving the leaves and surrounding ground a good spritzing. Before you know it, you will be on your way to gorgeous, bite-free leaves!
[recipe title=”Garlic Peppermint Garden Spray” time=”5–10 minutes active; 8 hours inactive” difficulty=”Easy”]
- 4 cloves garlic, roughly diced
- 4 cups (1 L) water
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- 8–10 drops peppermint essential oil
- 3–4 drops liquid biodegradable dish soap or Castile Soap
- 16 oz. Glass Bottle with Trigger Spray
- Place garlic, water, and cayenne pepper in a pot. Bring to a boil, and then remove from heat.
- Cover the pot with a lid, and allow the mixture to steep overnight.
- Remove the garlic cloves from the pot.
- Place peppermint essential oil and dish soap in a glass spray bottle.
- Carefully pour the garlic-cayenne water into the glass spray bottle. A funnel is helpful for this step.
- Screw the spray top on the bottle, and shake a little to combine the ingredients.
- To use, spray the tops and bottoms of the plant leaves. It is best to spray on a cloudy day or in the evening so the sun and cayenne combination doesn’t burn the plants. Apply every couple weeks or as needed. Wait 2–3 days after spraying to harvest any food.
Use two 8 oz. Glass Spray Bottles instead of the 16 oz. bottle so you can have someone else help you spray. If using 2 smaller bottles, place 4–5 drops of peppermint oil and 2 drops of dish soap in each bottle.
Pollination Attraction Spray: Of course, we don’t want to get rid of all the insects; so we’ve made this pollination attraction spray to bring in the bees to help your plants grow! It’s simple—just combine 15 drops orange essential oil with 1 cup (240 ml) of water in an 8 oz. Glass Spray Bottle. Shake well before using, and spray over your plants.
Fruit & Veggie Wash: You can never be too careful when it comes to the food you’re eating! Try out this easy wash to further cleanse your food from chemicals. Fill a large bowl with cold water, and add 1/2 cup (120 ml) vinegar and 6–8 drops lemon essential oil. Submerge your fruits and vegetables, and allow them to soak for a couple minutes before rinsing thoroughly and eating!
Gardening can leave your hands rough, cut up, and dry. We’ve created this hand balm to soften and moisturize your skin. This lotion is great for all occasions, not just gardening! Lavender essential oil is great for the skin; it softens the skin and soothes cuts, rashes, burns, and other irritations.
[recipe title=”Gardener’s Hand Balm” servings=”Yield=6 oz.” time=”20 minutes active; 3–4 hours inactive” difficulty=”Easy”]
- 2 Tbsp. (9 g) Beeswax Pellets
- 2 Tbsp. (28 g) Shea Butter
- 5 Tbsp. (60 g) Coconut Oil
- 2 Tbsp. (30 ml) Sweet Almond Oil
- 1 tsp. (5 ml) Vitamin E Oil
- 30–40 drops lavender essential oil
- Two 4 oz. Salve Jars
- Using a double boiler, melt the beeswax completely over medium heat.
- Add in the shea butter, and melt completely while stirring.
- Add in the coconut oil, and melt completely.
- Add the sweet almond oil and vitamin E oil, and stir until everything is completely combined.
- Allow the mixture to cool for 2–3 minutes, and then stir in the essential oils.
- Pour the mixture into the jars, and allow to partially set up on the counter.
- Place the jars in the fridge for several hours or until completely solid.
- Rub the balm into your hands, allowing it to slowly melt into the skin.
This hand balm also makes a great gift for class attendees or just for friends! Use these 1/4 oz. containers to make about 24 hand balm samples.
You can use whatever oils you like in this balm. Oils that are good for skin include peppermint, tea tree, frankincense, geranium, ylang ylang, and rosemary.
Now that we have armed you with more natural tools for your gardening endeavors, get out there and start gardening so that your family can eat more healthy food! We would love to hear about any other tips you have for gardening with essential oils, or even just gardening more naturally. Comment below if you have tips to share!