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.