Thursday, July 07, 2011

Neem Oil

Something has been wiping out my beautiful sweet meat squash (as seedlings) and my beans (also seedlings). Other things are getting munched too, but the bigger plants tolerate it much better than the tiny ones.

This year I got neem oil so I could plant squash. This is my last-ditch organic effort before I throw up my hands and invite Monsanto (Satan of the agriculture industry) to build a chemical plant and/or genetic modification lab on my property.

Baby grasshoppers became apparent last week, which disappointed me greatly, as last year I used Nolo Bait to deal with a terrible infestation. It is supposed to have some residual effect but by the time I'd gotten mine from the lady who finally ordered it, it was a bit late in the year. I used neem oil on the ones in my garden area last week, and I believe it had an effect! There are still baby grasshoppers, but fewer.

But my bean sprouts kept getting eaten. My mad scientist friend advised it could be nocturnal bugs, like earwigs (and also told me how to use magnets to grow super-plants, and how to precipitate some toxic acid from crocus bulbs to [naturally] genetically-modify (?) things into super-duper-plants o.O ). I haven't had time to find a compass to determine + and - on my kitchen magnets, but I did don Hubby's LED headlamp and head out into the garden after dark the other night.


Earwigs. Perched on (what is left of) my squash seedlings, hanging around the beans. Also roly-polies (sow bugs). The info I looked up on Neem oil didn't say anything about earwigs, but many sites recommended using soapy water on them. The Neem oil says NOT to add soap or other surfactants, but my sprayer was already half full of neem, which I wasn't going to waste, so I DID add some dawn dishsoap to the mix. I hunted through the garden, hunched over (I think the battery is getting low), hosing down the thieving earwig vandals. I am happy to say it worked! The sow bugs don't seem as affected (darn it), and I don't aim for spiders, but they do run away from it.

Oh, and I have a friend that's fairly new to the area, and she had never seen an earwig. They are pretty hideous, if you're not used to them, and in case you don't know what I'm talking about, here you go:

They're not that big; one inch is probably as big as they get (and right now many are much smaller), and solo they're probably not much problem. They're rarely solo however, and can really wipe out small, tender plants. You'll find them en masse in a compost heap, so they're not *all* bad, and chickens do a good job of keeping their populations down (I just don't have chickens in my garden! Such quandary!). However, they are nocturnal for the most part (and chickens are not), so you might not know how many you really have until you see their damage. Or, until you're standing under the light over the garage late at night, and you notice the gravel seems to be moving... *shudder*

So, in any case, neem oil works on earwigs. Or maybe Dawn dishsoap does. :)

*I've also set 'traps' of crumpled or rolled newspaper. They like to crawl into it. Some recommend dampening the paper, but in the morning you can gather up the papers in a bucket and set them afire, or dump them in the middle of some hot asphalt, and be done with them.


Fatima said...

Last year, we hardly had any zucchini due to vine borers. So sad. But this year, the zucchini is coming out my ears!
I think this is just part of gardening, good/bad years, good/bad yeilds, and lots of learning.
Thanks for sharing your trick and the funny image of you out there with a headlamp battling bugs. ;)

sariah said...

I've had the same issues with basil, beans and earwigs. I don't think the bush beans will ever amount to anything because they are so raggedy and holey. The pole beans outgrew the chewing. But pole beans take so long to make beans.....