The Four Kitchen Staples To Use If You're Sick Of Garden Pests

For everything from gnats to slugs.
Christopher Laszlo Bonis / 500px via Getty Images

Ah, summer. There’s nothing like it for looking out on your lawn and seeing bursts of colourful flowers, verdant grass, and... endless clouds of gnats?

Apparently, ’tis the season for pests. Gnats, aphids, slugs, and other pests thrive in warm conditions and can be really damaging to your plants (as well as potentially ruining your legendary barbecues).

So, we thought we’d round up the best ways to repel the pesky creatures from your lawn (and no, you won’t need to travel further than your kitchen to achieve bug-free bliss).

1) Garlic is your friend

If you couldn’t already tell from its flavour-enhancing qualities (hello, garlic bread), the aromatic really only seems to want what’s best for us – and that includes repelling bugs.

Midges and mosquitoes can both be banished from your garden using the plant because it contains a group of sulphurs that interfere with their reproductive ability. It can also discourage aphids, slugs, and carrot flies.

To make an effective garlic spray at home, gardening expert Leigh Clapp told Homes & Gardens that you can “Puree two garlic bulbs with one tablespoon of vegetable oil, let it sit overnight, strain, add one teaspoon of mild liquid soap and four cups of water to fill the spray container.”

You can either apply this every few evenings to affected plants or spritz it on every couple of weeks to act as a deterrent.

2) Tomatoes can produce their own insecticide

If you’ve ever grown tomatoes, you’ll know how rewarding eating your own freshly-grown tommies can be. But you might not have known that you can use the plant’s leaves to make your very own anti-aphid, anti-mite spray.

Tomato plants, members of the nightshade family, contain toxic compounds called alkaloids in their leaves. When the leaves of tomato plants are chopped, the alkaloids are released. By suspending the alkaloids in water, they make an easy-to-use spray that is toxic to aphids, but still safe around plants and humans,” says The Spruce.

It’s surprisingly easy to make your own spray. Just soak the leaves overnight using equal parts leaves and water, then strain the liquid with a cheesecloth or fine-mesh sieve.

It’s a really clever way to make use of pruned tomato leaves – just make sure you spray it on the underside of your leaves too, because this is aphids’ favourite hiding spot.

3) Got too many slugs? Try eating a melon

You’re really, really not advised to kill slugs at the moment. They’re crucial for the diets of our ever-dwindling bird population – but that doesn’t mean you have to let them eat your marrows before you can get your hands on them.

Yorkshire Live offers some great green-fingered advice; cut a melon in half, eat the fruit, and then place the empty rinds in your lawn.

Slugs and snails will be attracted to the sweet treat and become trapped in its bowl shape. After that, you can carry the gross gauntlet as far away as you like from your garden – and I guess the birds can chow down on a fairly grim cornucopia.

4) Tired of gnats? Gnab (sorry) some apple cider vinegar

Whether your problem is indoors or outdoors, making a gnat-repelling trap couldn’t be easier.

Just “Cut an old, two-litre soda bottle in half, filling the bottom half with a mixture of half a cup (of) warm water, two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, a tablespoon of sugar, and six drops of liquid dish soap. Place the top half of the cut bottle upside down on top of the bottom half so that the spout is close to the liquid line but not touching it,” say Homes & Gardens.

The flies will be attracted to the sugar but won’t be able to escape the trap’s shape, and will eventually fall into the liquid.

Here’s to some pest-free summer parties!