Neem Oil

Neem Oil

Neem Oil

At the Organic Soil Amendment Seminar, Mr. Sayed recommended the use of Neem oil as an organic fungicide and insecticide.

He recommended 100% concentrate cold pressed Neem. Several sources were discussed but low and behold we have a source right here on Gabriola! Our own Nature Spirit Earth Market carries a 16 oz bottle. I have given a general recipe for making your own spray from concentrate below but do check the instructions on the container.

Uses for Neem Oil

Neem oil can be used to treat a number of garden ailments, including:

  • Insects: Neem oil kills or repels many harmful insects and mites, including aphids, whiteflies, snails, nematodes, mealybugs, cabbage worms, gnats, moths, cockroaches, flies, termites, mosquitoes, and scale. It kills some bugs outright, attacks the larvae of others, and repels plant munchers with its bitter taste.
  • Fungus: Neem oil is also effective in preventing fungal diseases such as black spot, anthracnose, rust, and mildew.
  • Disease: As if that wasn’t enough, neem oil also battles viruses that can harm plants.

Advantages of Neem Oil

Neem oil is a popular choice in organic gardens because it is:

  • Nontoxic: As long as it isn’t sprayed directly on them, neem oil is nontoxic to beneficial garden insects such as predatory wasps, honeybees, earthworms, ants, spiders, ladybugs, and adult butterflies. Neem oil is considered nontoxic to humans, birds, and other animals as well (see below) and can be used on fruits, vegetables, and flowering plants.
  • Organic: Neem oil is plant based and easily available from organically grown neem trees.
  • Biodegradable: Neem oil breaks down quickly and leaves no lasting residue.

Like everything, less is more. Perhaps my thoughts are an abundance of caution but remember this. Neem works on chewing and sucking insects which is why it is non-toxic to beneficial insects. Let’s remember that those beautiful butterflies come from a leaf chewing caterpillar. So use where necessary. Do not overuse.

More caution. Here again. Let’s keep it off the blossoms wherever possible. I have not encountered this caution anywhere else. It just seems to be common sense to me. The blossoms are where the bees are. Perhaps the experts will think I am being a bit paranoid but we at Wheelbarrel will only use when necessary and will take care not to spray directly on the blossoms.

How To Apply Neem Oil

Here are the general directions for making your own spray from Neem oil concentrate.

Use a high quality, organic, cold pressed oil
Ingredients: 1 tsp Neem Oil concentrate
1/3 tsp insecticidal soap or other detergent
1 litre of warm water

Method: Mix the water with the soap first. Slowly add the Neem Oil mixing vigorously. Put in your sprayer. Shake or agitate frequently while spraying. Use within 8 hours. If you have some left over discard. Neem oil breaks down after 8 hours.

When spraying pay attention to the undersides of leaves where insects like to hide and drench the soil. This won’t hurt the soil and will get rid of fungus gnats or other insects that hide in soil.

Neem oil concentrate should be stored in the fridge, not in the heat. It will thicken in the fridge but bring back to a more usable viscosity by floating the container in slightly warm water before mixing your next batch. I understand that a bottle of concentrate should be good for about a year. Here again, check the instructions on the container.

Soil Testing

Soil Testing

Soil Testing

Our Organic Soil Amendment speaker Mr Sayed suggested that we have our soil tested. Many of you have expressed interest in the Mehlich 3 extraction test. This is the test suggested in the book ‘The Intelligent Gardener’.

After some research the soil testing lab located closest to us is listed below. I have been in touch with Wendy at this lab.

M.B. Laboratories Ltd.
2062 W Henry Ave
Sidney, BC V8L 5Y1

Phone 250-656-1334
Fax 250-656-0443

The most efficient way is to contact the lab directly. They will email you three documents. An instruction document, A Chain of Custody document, and Price list.

One important item to note is that you have to specify the Mehlich 3 extraction test. This is not noted on the list of tests. A quote from Wendy. “The extract is at the beginning of the analysis and will define what is seen in the test. The actual test part is the same regardless of what extraction method was used to get there. Our normal default method is a modified Kelowna extract.”

Organic Soil Amendments

Organic Soil Amendments

The Organic Soil Amendment Seminar

Mr Yasir Sayed from Biofert spoke to us and answered questions for more than three and a half hours. He was very knowledgeable and generous with his information.

Wheelbarrel has carried the Orgunique liquid fertilizer for 3 or 4 years. We will now be carrying the granular line as well. These come in huge 25 kg bags. We will be breaking them down into 2 kg. bags for our smaller gardens. If you have a larger garden, bring your own container such as a canvas grocery bag or smaller plastic container.

A note to our customers. Some expressed the feeling that they were too late to start. The organic growing process is not a quick fix but a process over time. It is something we need to start now and go forward from here.

Put this in human wellness terms we can all understand. Adding organic soil amendment is not like antibiotics which will make you better in a few days but like vitamins and eating properly which will support your immune system and boost your overall wellness over time.

Organic Soil Amendments

  • Earth Boost – Humic acid based with naturally occurring minerals
  • Starter Food   1-3-15 –  Formulated for early plant establishment
  • Organic Blend  6-2-7 –  Slow release fertilizer for organic production
  • HiN 10-3-0 –  High organic nitrogen in readily available form
  • Hi-P 0-15-0 – High organic phosphorus in readily available form
  • Biosul-90 – pH correction and rich source of sulphur
  • Rock Phosphate 0-3-0 – Slow-release source of phosphorus & calcium
  • Sulphate of Potash 0-0-52 – High source of potassium with low salt index

Happy Spring!

Happy Spring!

The seeds are in with new trees, shrubs, fruit trees, ground covers, perennials arriving. Most should be in stock by early March with annuals starting to arrive later in March. We are getting the plant displays set up as the weather improves and shipments roll in.

The winter has been kind to gardens. Our beds will soon be bursting forth with growth and colour.

We look forward to meeting you all again at the nursery.


The nursery is open 7 days a week to help with your spring gardening.
February hours 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.


Wheelbarrel Nursery Club

Sign up for our Nursery Club and recieve one point for every $10 purchase (pre tax).

10 points earns a 10% discount on your next purchase.

Gabriola Garden Club

Garden Club members receive 10% on every purchase upon presenting their membership card.

*Please note that we cannot give a discount on bagged or bulk soil.

March forward hours 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Gift Certificates:

Is there a gardener on your gift list?

Our gift certificates are very  popular. We can mail gift certificates or hold them for pick-up at the store.To order a gift certificate, phone us at 250-247-8728 during business hours with credit card information and we can immediately issue the gift certificate.

E-mail us if you have any questions about our gift certificates.


Sign up for our newsletter to receive information on what has arrived that week. It is also the only place our sales and specials are advertised.

We look forward to your visit!

photo credit: Michele Black

Mason Bee Fall Chores

Mason Bee Fall Chores

Mason Bees.

If you are increasing your mason bee population by providing nesting houses, early October is the time to remove the nesting tubes and clean the houses with water and a bit of bleach to kill the mites that may be overwintering.

Remove your cocoons from the nesting tubes and gently rinse them with water.  Use a sieve and water only, no soap or bleach.   Put the cocoons on paper towel until perfectly dry. The mites that kill the bees are brownish red.  There should be no stain on the paper towel.    If there is repeat the rinsing process.

This might be a good time to sort the cocoons into male and female.  It will be important to know when you put them out in the spring.  That is if you are dividing the cocoons and dispersing over your yard.  The female cocoons are usually larger.  It seems not too difficult to tell.  We will see how successful I was in the spring.

To keep the cocoons safe over the winter, the clean and dry cocoons should be stored loosely surrounded by paper towel. Perhaps some cardboard underneath (keeps them off the cold metal), in a metal container with air vents punched in the lid.  I am using an old cookie tin.  The tin should be stored in a cool place such as a garage or other outbuilding where it will not freeze.

The metal container is necessary to keep the mice and such at bay and the vents are necessary to keep from smothering the little bees.

Think about bringing them out when the Pieris bloom.

Photo By USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab from Beltsville, Maryland, USA – Osmia conjuncta, F, MD, back_2015-11-20-21.40, Public Domain

Pests and Pestilence

Pests and Pestilence


The heat has slowed these guys down some.  As well as it being warm enough for the garter snakes to be comfortable and out and about snacking on them.  Hand picking is the best remedy but if you have an area which is totally out of control, a product called Safers Slug Bait can be used.


We have had quite a run of aphids.  The simplest remedy is vigilance.  Hand picking and then rinsing affected plants.  Water seems to knock them off the tender shoots and they are unable to return.  Another remedy that works is to plant sacrificial plants that attract the aphids such as dill in the veggie garden or plants that repel aphids such as onions and garlic.  I have known those who planted garlic among the roses to keep the little devils away.  We planted garlic in our roses one year and certainly wished I had done it this year as this was the worst year for aphids in my memory.  A super out of control invasion can be controlled with Safers End-All.


Again the worst year for earwigs that I remember.  Probably too mild a winter.  There are some remedies but I have had limited success so would like to hear from some of you who have had success.  Often the damage is slight but at the Nursery at least they can cause a lot of damage when they invade lily buds as an example.

That brings me to the dear Deer.

Again this year they have taken to coming in the front gate without worrying about those of us who are around.  Last year it was a young buck, this year it is a doe with baby.  Our front gate is closed but do not be dissuaded, we are open and happy to see you.  At least if you do not have 4 legs and eat my apple trees and roses.  I was very surprised to notice that she reached over the rose bushes to eat all the leaves on the apple tree she could reach.  There was some snacking done on the roses but it was obvious her preference was the apple tree.

Powdery Mildew

And in the pestilence department we have powdery mildew.  Again rinsing with water seems to be an acceptable remedy.  You can also spray with a mild solution of baking soda and water.   A serious case might call for Safers Defender.

Photo by Michele Black