Spotted cucumber beetle
Gardening organically is important if you care for your health and for your family’s.  Chemical pesticides have time and again been shown to cause all kinds of chronic health issues, from allergies and skin problems to cancer and fertility issues.

So how do you fight off all the critters that want to eat all of your lovely garden vegetables and plants when you can’t rely on those easy-to-use chemical controls?

You turn to an easy-to-use organic control measure.

I got some great advice from a farmer friend in a group on Facebook that combined two ingredients that I had only used separately before:  Neem Oil and Diatomaceous Earth (DE).

First, a little background about how these substances work.

  • Neem Oil is an insect repellant derived from the fruit and seeds of the neem tree, offering a deterrent to a “wide variety of pests including the mealy bug, beet armyworm, aphids, the cabbage worm, thrips, whiteflies, mites, fungus gnats, beetles, moth larvae, mushroom flies, leafminers, caterpillars, locust, nematodes and the Japanese beetle.” according to Wikipedia.  It also acts as a control for diseases like black spot, powdery mildew, and rust.
  • Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is a white powder, much like talc powder, that is derived from the fossilized remains of marine creatures called diatoms.  It acts as an abrasive and dehydrating agent, which causes tiny cuts and/or dries our the waxy layer of insects that keeps their moisture inside their exoskeleton, resulting in their death due to dehydration.  Fun times, eh?  Make sure you get “food grade” DE, which is safe for human and animal consumption.  DE is normally applied by sprinkling the powder on plants for use as a garden insecticide.

My farmer friend suggested combining them in a solution and spraying them (neem oil is usually diluted and sprayed for application anyway).  This made a lot of sense because you get the repellent effects of the neem oil with the insecticide power of the DE.  So if any bugs are not repelled by the neem oil, when they come in contact with or eat the foliage of your plants that have been sprayed, the DE will do its job to kill the pests.

Since the solution will dry out on the plant after a short time, the DE in the solution will leave a white chalky residue on the plants, but it will last longer than if DE was used by itself, because the neem oil acts as a surfactant to hold the DE in place. Brilliant!

The Recipe:  For each 1 gallon of water, mix

Mix thoroughly in a pump sprayer to apply to your plants.  Be sure to spray the underside of the leaves to ensure full coverage.

Let me know how this works for you and if you have any organic pest control tips to share by leaving a comment below.

 

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