*Hot Peppers as Organic Garden Insecticide ... and More*
By: TooshieGalore
30 May 2016

I grow hot peppers not to eat but as the main ingredient in organic insecticide and varmint garden barrier. I grow only the highest scoville heat, (and thus varmint misery) those are: cayenne, jalapeños, habanera and reapers. One plant yields massive amounts of peppers. I usually grow three plants of each pepper to work a large garden. My recipe has been working wonderfully against birds, deer, cats, dogs, rabbits, squirrels, ground hogs, skunks and moles in addition to most insects.

But first - - hot peppers are on my HAZMAT-materials list. Please note the following precautions: Oil/juice from peppers is absorbed quickly into the skin. Even if you wash your hands, you'll still smell hot peppers for several days. Although you wash your hands, any sensitive area will burn after your hands touch it, for several days. (Ladies ... ask me how I know!) Therefore, I use PPE. Before putting on a good pair of heavy-duty cleaning gloves, I spread a generous lathering of coconut oil or hand cream. The oil/cream forms a barrier so skin doesn't absorb pepper oil. Also, fumes from hot peppers will burn nasal cavities, mouth and lips as if you had eaten them. Wear protection. I use a N95 mask and safety goggles - not glasses. Plus, I cover my long hair in conditioner and top it with a plastic showercap else my hair absorbs the pepper smell. One time when I didn't wear hair protection, I had to launder my pillow - I couldn't sleep on it again after the first night - it was overwhelming. Remove PPE with full HAZMAT decon protocols. When you wash your hands, use a fingernail brush. OK, you get the idea - be careful with this stuff.

At harvest, I cut off the green tips, slice the pepper lengthwise in half and remove the seeds. I then refrigerate the peppers until I have enough to fill my Excalibur dehydrator. I'm not drying peppers for eating so I don't worry about washing or cutting out any spoiled areas. But if a pepper is obviously a gonner, I don't use it.

You can dry peppers in any regular kitchen oven. Set the temp at its lowest setting or 140-degrees. Arrange them in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Leave the oven door ajar. You don't want to cook them, just dry them out. Flip peppers over after about 4 hours for even drying. If you find that the peppers are being cooked, open the oven door wider.

However, I recommend dehydrating outside in a well-ventilated area. Dehydrating peppers give off pungent fumes that are irritating. If your dehydrator has a temperature setting, place it at 140 degrees. Let the peppers dehydrate for 8 to 12 hours. Larger, thicker skinned peppers take longer to dehydrate.

After they are thoroughly dried, crush them into small flakes or powder in a food processor, blender or spice mill. I use flakes around the base of plants and powder to make a spray. I store mine in a mason jar.

I add three tablespoons of powder to a pan of boiling water. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Heating makes a more potent spray.  Allow mixture to sit outside for about 24 hours. Strain if needed. Add enough water to the strained liquid to make 1 gallon. Add a tablespoon of dish soap and 1 tablespoon vegetable or other light cooking oil to help mixture stick to plants.

Most insects feed overnight. I like to spray is early evening when plants are dry. Do not apply during direct sunlight. To apply use a spray bottle or a garden pump sprayer depending on the size of your garden. Spray an even coat all over the foliage - specially the underside of leaves - stems, fruit and area on the ground around the plant. Your plants will look lusciously shiny and healthy. Re-apply every week or two (when the shine wears off) depending on the amount of rainfall.

Yes, you'll want to wash food before eating. No, your food will not taste like hot peppers.

To save pepper seeds, wash thoroughly, separating any pepper "meat" from the seeds. Discard pepper meat, it will spoil. Spread seeds in a thin layer on a paper towel and allow to air dry for about 48 hours. I store seeds in a plastic bag, labeled with variety name and date. I store seeds in the refrigerator. Plant the seeds for a new crop of pepper plants next season.

P.S. If you were inclined to DIY pepper spray for self-defense, this works great in a children's toy water gun.


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