At this point, we’re all aware that synthetic pesticides are bad for the environment. But what are the alternatives? One Tiktoker may have a solution, which she’s broken down in a video that’s gone viral, attracting 8.2 million views, over 1 million likes, more than 159,000 reshares and upwards of 2,000 comments.
The video, uploaded by Sarah Murray (@shecooksorganic), is titled “Recipe my grandpa taught me for a pest-free garden and garden care.” Murray’s Tiktok bio states that she is a “Home Chef & Culinary Gardener” who provides “helpful gardening & cooking tips.”
The video begins with footage of a mixture of orange pieces and peel in a large bowl.
“This is a recipe that my grandpa taught me when he was a gardener. And it’s a natural pesticide,” Murray says in a voiceover. “You take oranges, orange peel—boil it on the stove in a pot for about 15-20 minutes and what you’re doing is taking out the nutrients in this, which is the calcium, magnesium, sulfur and nitrogen found in the orange peel and also in the orange.”
Murray then mashes up the mixture using a potato masher, and sifts out the chunks and peel, which she saves for later. The process leaves her with an orangey concentrate, which she waters down before spraying it on her garden beds.
“This is what I do with my plants. This is why they’re so healthy and pest-free. I put it on my tomato, different types of bean plant like this one, different herbs and it keeps away the aphids, whiteflies and slugs or snails from getting into the garden,” she says, before adding, “This is very helpful for keeping away ants as well. And next to take the chunks and put them in the bucket, where the beans grow.”
Fellow Tiktokers shared their thanks for the tip and delight in the fact that the recipe had been passed from grandfather to granddaughter.
@user4009515481783 wrote, “To the presenter, Kudos to your Grandpa and sharing with us. Thank you,” while @Aych Deedubya added, “I just made this today. Going to water my house plants with it later. Crosses fingers.”
A slightly more enthusiastic response came from @cynthiacarpenter14, who wrote, “THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS EDUCATIONAL RECIPE AND IT’S ALL NATURAL! Keep ’em Coming”
Murray’s grandpa’s recipe works because of certain chemical elements found in oranges, according to a piece of research published in 2021. The researchers note that natural pesticides, including plant extracts and essential oils, are becoming increasingly popular, in an attempt to “mitigate the adverse effects of pesticides in the environment.” According to the research, essential oils from more than 1,500 plant species have been shown to act as natural pesticides. This includes Citrus sinensis L, AKA the orange tree.
“Orange essential oil is found mainly in oval-shaped sacks on the flavedo or orange portion of the peel and acts as a natural toxic barrier for many microorganisms and insects,” the paper states.
Science aside, it appears that many Tiktokers will be adopting the technique for their own gardens, including @llphandy, who commented, “I love using natural products to help grow & take care of plants. My Dad grew a big garden all natural. Gave it to elderly neighbors & to his family.”
Meanwhile, @Mark Egan wrote, “I’m having a mega problem with slugs & snails eating my hostas. I will give it a try! Many thanks!” and @Connor2711 simply responded, “Outstanding keep up the good work.”
Newsweek asked Sarah Murray for comment.