Pest Concoction (long)
As requested by Jel48:
I had some greenhouse pests (whiteflies, aphids and fungas gnats) and then I had a minor mouse problem. I HATE mice, and I would freak if one got into our living area. Anyway, after having unsatisfactory results with two exterminators I did some research.
I had previously sprayed an alcohol, dish soap and water solution on my g/h pests, which worked instantly on the pests that got hit with it. However, it didn't always kill eggs or pests under the soil. I tried to let my soil dry out some and that did help with the fungus gnats, but my plants would suffer from dehydration before the pests would be eradicated.
Some of the stuff I read about helped with mice, some helped with plant pests and some helped with both. I decided to simplify things by using one solution for both purposes. For the most part, the plant pests hate orange or citrus oils and cinnamon, and the mice hate rosemary, hot peppers and chilli powder. Both hate garlic. Mice also hate mint, but I haven't had to use that.
So what I do is I dice orange peels, and put in a big pot with diced garlic, chilli powder, hot pepper flakes, cinnamon and rosemary. I bring to a boil and simmer for about 20 minutes and when cool enough I put it in the downstairs fridge for a day or so. When ready to use, I filter first with a paper towel, and then with a coffee filter. If I don't filter like this, it plugs up my sprayer.
I've read that you need to spray where the mice are getting in once a week, and after any rain. I use a pressure sprayer and it only takes a minute. I would suggest spraying more often in the beginning when the mice are entrenched in the habit of going in there. There hasn't been a mouse come into the house since I started this. When the weather warms up.. I will be placing a pots of rosemary and mint where the mice seem to be getting in. I have it narrowed down to a general area, and I'm still working on finding the exact spot so I can plug it up.
In the g/h, I had immediate and wonderful results. I spray anything that moves, and I water the plants with the solution also. You do have to be careful with the cinnamon- it's effective in killing pests, but the oil can be harmful to some plants. I haven't had any trouble, but be careful. Oh, and the cinnamon is also good for fungus and any mold problems as well. I've read that the citrus oils stimulate the plant roots, not sure if that is true, but my plants seem happier than ever. Most of my plants are showing nice growth, and the plants that used to have problems with yellowing not due to overwatering (hibiscus, some of my dahlias and mandevilla) are no longer having these problems. I add fertilizer to this solution as usual.
Apparently when you water with the solution, the plant tissues also become unpalatable to pests as well. This is also how neem oil works, and I have had good luck with neem oil, but it is expensive. I will be trying my solution in the summer with my plants- spraying them with it and occasionally watering with this solution. I sure wish I had figured this out sooner! Oh, and it's important to pick up any dead, diseased leaves etc and dispose of them in the garbage rather than the compost.
Speaking of compost.. I'm a bit of a compost fanatic and I find this solution/process helps my compost too. After using the fluid from the mixture, you can add more hot water and reheat and use the solids in this way for about a week. When you finally discard the solids into the compost, you then have components in the compost that repel mice as well, along with the paper towels and coffee filter.
It takes a bit of time to filter, etc, but I just keep at it while I do other stuff. And as I said to my husband.. it doesn't feel like I'm doing more work to deal with plant pests, I'm just doing more of it in the kitchen with my preparations. I hated using chemical treatments and they didn't work nearly as well. I don't have to obsessively work on my plants to keep the pests off, and they are happier and healthier than they have ever been!
If you have any questions.. just let me know. I have no science background, but I have been reading and experimenting and this is what works for me.