Thursday, March 24, 2011

Neem Oil

One of the great things about growing your own fruits and vegetables, is that you control what pesticides (if any) that you want to use. I am not much of a pesticide person but if the bugs get really bad there are a few things I will do.

My first choice is removing them by hand and dropping them in a bucket of water. This is best done in the morning because the bugs are wet from the dew and can’t fly away. If you don’t want to touch the bugs you can try shaking the branch over the bucket or bribing your kids. My kids are usually willing to go on a bug hunt.

Another option is Neem oil. Neem oil is extracted from the nut of the neem tree. I starting using neem oil because it came recommended from other gardeners. I also use it because it is organic and safe if my kids touch it. I got the following information for you at they can it better than I can.

Neem oil insecticide solutions are made by mixing an oil concentrate (usually 3-4.5% azadirachtin) with water. The oil is sometimes combined with insecticidal soap to enhance the activity of both .
Always check the product label carefully but most neem oil insecticides can be effectively used for aphids, armyworms, many leaf-feeding insects such as root weevil adults, leafminers, thrips and whiteflies. Sprays can be used on many vegetable crops as well as spices and herbs, small fruits and berries, stone fruits and tropical fruits. Insecticide applications can often be made up to the day of harvest.

Benefits of neem oil insecticide
• low toxicity, safe for the applicator
• low environmental impact
• organic and biorational
• relatively broad-usage allowed
• easy on beneficial insects and mites
Beside all of the benefits of neem oil the only real downside is that it is not very persistant so may need to be re-applied every few days (see instructions on product label). Many gardeners, however, consider this characteristic to actually be another benefit because neem oil insecticide won't interfere with beneficial insects or delay harvest.

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