Shortly after my son was born, eleven years ago, I was standing in the front office of the facility where I worked complaining to some co-workers about having to use chemicals in my gardens to keep the pests away. Prior to the birth of my son, I had not even given any thought to the potential harm chemical pesticides could cause. However, now that my little one was crawling around, I was paranoid about anything chemical being near my baby. Unfortunately, I did not know of any alternatives to the store bought chemical sprays.
While we were having our discussion, a sweet retired farmer from down the way came into our place of business. Mr. X came in about weekly to sell extra fresh vegetables from his "little" garden in his backyard. At the time he was probably about 80 years old (and still going strong) and had been gardening as long as he could remember.
He proceeded to tell us all that for all the years he had farmed he never used a store bought pesticide. Mr. X said he just did not believe in them. I was floored, as were all the other ladies standing around. Of course we all had to know then how he kept the bugs off all his beautiful vegetables and so he told us. We all broke out a piece of paper to take down the recipe, which I still use today! And here it is...
1 pack of Red Man chewing tobacco
6 oz liquid dish soap
19 gallons of water
Put the chewing tobacco into an old panty hose and tie it up tight (cut off just part of the leg and foot and tie a knot in the top) place it into a large pot with the water. Bring to a boil. Squeeze out excess water from the chewing tobacco and throw away. Add 6 ounces of dish liquid and mix well.
To use this mixture, simply pour it in a sprayer. My garden is rather small (10 x 12) so I simply use a liter size spray bottle that I picked up at Dollar General. Next point and spray at the leaves, stem and fruit. You don't need to drench them, just give a light spray. Whenever I see a bug, I spray again (generally once a month or so).
Normally, I cut the recipe in half when I make it and share several gallons with friends. The rest of the mixture I store in one gallon washed bleach bottles. So far, I've only stored it for a couple years. However, I did not notice any reduction of the effectiveness during that time; so I would say it stores well.
If you are looking for an alternative to pesticides in your garden, give this a try. The nicotine in the chewing tobacco acts as a repellent and will keep pests off you veggies and fruits.