The mythology behind garlic is long and storied. From vampires to devils to werewolves, garlic is purported to do anything and everything. While those stories may just be myths, garlic is both a great plant to grow in your garden, and a great plant to use on your garden. It’s a common plant used to repel bugs in the garden as well.
Garlic bulbs consist of numerous segments called cloves, which can be separated and planted. A biennial usually grown as an annual, garlic boasts many antibiotic and pest preventive properties as well as many health benefits when consumed.
Listen to this post on the Epic Gardening Podcast
Benefits of Garlic Spray
In my opinion, the biggest benefit of garlic spray is that it means you are NOT using other, more toxic pesticides in your garden. It’s an eco-friendly, green way to treat pest and disease problems.
The pungent smell that garlic is well-known for will kill or repel many of the more annoying garden pests, though it may also scare away some beneficial bugs as well.
But what makes it work so well against pests? The answer lies in the sulfur compounds found in garlic cloves. You might recognize sulfur as a powerful standalone fungicide, but when paired with allicin, a compound within garlic, it confuses insects by interfering with their sensory receptors.
If you have a case of powdery mildew or downy mildew, garlic spray can also treat it, which makes it a very versatile garden tool.
Making Garlic Spray
Here’s what you need to make your own garlic spray:
- 1/4 pound garlic (2-3 whole garlic bulbs)
- 1 quart water
- 4-5 drops dishwashing soap
- Blender or food processor
- 1 quart glass jar
First, separate your bulbs into cloves — but don’t peel them. Put all of the cloves into a high quality food processor or blender and add 1 cup of water. Pulse or chop them well.
After they’re nicely chopped, add in the remaining water and your dishwashing soap. If you were using a food processor, transfer to a blender and blend until the mixture is completely liquefied.
It’s important to make sure it’s completely liquid, because you’ll be using a spray nozzle to apply and even small chunks will get caught in the nozzle. Plus, you want to get as much of the garlic to mix with the water and soap as possible.
After a thorough blend, strain through cheesecloth to catch any last chunks of garlic that would clog your spray nozzle. You can strain a few times if you want to be absolutely sure that your final mixture is 100% liquid. Put the mixture into a glass jar for storage.
When you want to use it, mix 1 part of your concentrated garlic mixture with 10 parts of water and add to a bottle with a spray nozzle top.
Note: most bugs don’t like garlic including beneficial insects.
While the basic recipe outlined above works just fine, many gardeners like adding in extra ingredients to boost the pest-repelling properties. The most popular additions include:
- Neem oil
- Hot peppers
All of these have unique characteristics that make them good additions to a garlic pest spray. Keep in mind you can also buy a commercial garlic spray and then customize from there as well. The most popular sprays are from Garlic Research Labs (what a great name) and this cold-pressed garlic spray.
Here’s an example of how to make garlic spray with a mint addition:
Using Garlic Spray In The Garden
If you need to spray, you should time it for the early evening. This way your plants are dry and there is a greater likelihood that the insects you want to get rid of will be out in full force.
Just use a standard spray bottle and coat the vegetation of your plants as evenly as you can. Be sure to get the underside of the leaves, as many more annoying bugs like to hide there.
I like to use a pressurized pump sprayer to make sure I get even coverage over all of my plants. It makes it a lot easier to deal with a larger garden.
Re apply your garlic spray at least once a week — and after a rain — to make sure its pest-repelling properties are put to full use.
If you are spraying plants that you’re going to eat soon, wash them thoroughly before consuming…unless you like a garlic and soap-flavored garden!
That’s all there is to it! Enjoy using this cheap and eco-friendly spray in the garden, and let me know what you like to add to your garlic spray recipe in the comments below.