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Organic Farming: Using Neem as a natual organic insecticide

Neem is a tree found primarily in India. Neem has been used for a long time for a variety of purposes in India, such as a natural toothbrush, its dried leaves are used when packing clothes so as to protect against insects. In addition, the oils from Neem are used as part of making soap for bathing and for cleaning. Going further on this line, Neem is very helpful against insects and pests, and is an integral part of organic principles. For organic farming, it is mandatory that any treatment of insects and pests be done without using chemical insecticides; it does not prevent the use of insecticides, only that they should be naturally occurring materials.
Neem makes for an excellent insecticide. It acts in a different way from chemical insecticides; you apply a chemical insecticide and the insects / pests drop dead or run away. However, Neem acts in a different way. You cannot apply Neem based insecticide, and expect to see the insects dying off in droves. Neem acts to subvert the natural behavior of insects, affecting them internally. So, in some time, you will start to see the insects unable to eat, unable to create eggs or young larvae, in fact, insects seem to forget how to do their normal behavior, and eventually leads to the dying off of the population. This takes time to happen, so the gardener needs to be patient.
Further, the effect of Neem seems to affect only those insects who are categorized as chewing or sucking, so you can stop worrying that all the pollen spreading bees will die off after you apply neem. You of course need to be a bit careful, not using the Neem insecticide during the daytime, instead using it either in the morning or the evening. This way, you do not coat the insects with the liquid, instead the bugs deal with the dried insecticide.
More technical: You need to be careful of what you buy for this purpose. Many stores do not have Neem labelled as an insecticide because of regulations. When you buy one, be sure that it has the following on the label – Azadirachtin. You should take care to buy a Neem product that has ‘Azadirachtin’ with a high content, and not some substitute that contains hydrophobic extract (will not be powerful enough, but you would not know that and would be disappointed with the results). Also, if you have a pond in your garden, be sure that you do not spray the neem into the pond.
Further, Neem works from inside the plant as well, since the Neem is absorbed by the plant and goes inside the tissues. As and when the insects start consuming the plant, they feel the effect of the Neem insecticide. For some insects, they consume the insecticide, and others get repelled by the smell.
Neem needs to be mixed with water, with around 1 ounce of the insecticide with around a gallon of water. You also need to apply the insecticide on a regular basis, maybe around once every 10-14 days. Further, since useful insects such as bees and lady bugs don’t eat the plant, they don’t feel any effects of the insecticide. Also, you need to spray the insecticide solution on the potting soil as well.

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1 comment to Organic Farming: Using Neem as a natual organic insecticide

  • Wolfgang Stuetzel

    One obstacle to using Neem Oil is that it needs to be emulsified in order to dilute well with Water! Certainly, adding some “hand-washing and dish-washing liquid soaps, soap oil, eco-friendly detergents, soapnut powder or any other organic emulsifier” would be a logical solution!

    How will the above-mentioned emulsifiers effect the astronomical colonies of Bacteria and Micro-Organisms laboriously cultured in VermiTea (Worm Tea) via 60 Hours of Aeration?

    Many thanks, Wolfgang in Central Philippines

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