Neem Oil for Pest Control in the Garden

I don’t like to use “chemicals” in my garden  but there are some pests that are just too hard to pick off with your fingers and have any hope of winning the battle.  A few years ago I was introduced to Neem Oil.

Neem oil is organic as it comes from the Azadirachta indica tree in Asia.  It is non-toxic when used following the product directions (Water it down. Wash it off your clothes and skin.  Keep out of reach of pets and children).

Neem oil as a pest control works well against squash bugs, potato beetles, aphids, leaf eating caterpillars, and other chewing insects.  Neem oil works systemically.  Once it is in a plant’s vascular system, chewing insects ingest it.  Once ingested generally the insect will cease eating and starve or prevent larvae from maturing, and the insect will no longer desire to mate and lay eggs.  It may take several days following an application to notice the bothersome insect population diminish.  Neem oil also works as a fungicide which helps combat fungi, mildew, rust, mold, root rot, etc.

Follow the directions on your bottle of neem oil.  The bottle I have says to use 1 tsp of oil to 1 litre of water.  I add 1 tsp of oil to about a cup of very warm water and mix it up, then add in the remainder of the water at a cooler temperature and mix it more.  Once prepared to the correct dilution, spray it liberally on the plant, on both sides of the leaves as well as in the soil around the plant.  Don’t use during extreme heat or extreme cold or during any time the plant is stressed by environmental factors. Don’t spray it on the plant at a hot sunny time of day or risk burning the plant.

Neem oil should be safe for flying pollinators such as bees as they are not eating the plant.  If spraying liberally in very large amounts (such as one would in a commercial operation), do so at a time of day when bees are unlikely to be present to avoid spraying directly on the bees.

Use your diluted solution the same day you mix it as it will break down and be far less effective after the first day.  Concentrated neem oil in a bottle can last up to two years if kept at room temperature in a dark place.  Spray your plants once a week for best results.

Neem oil breaks down quickly leaving no lasting residue so your produce should be safe for consumption assuming you are not consuming immediately after an application.  Wash your veggies as you normally would.

Warning: There are concerns about neem oil usage and human fertility.  If you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, consider having someone else mix the oil and water for you, even though the risks are associated with actual consumption of the oil. Play safe.

Watch me mix neem and apply it to my zucchini plants here:

How to Use Neem Oil for Pest Control in the Garden

How to Use Neem Oil for Pest Control in the Garden

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