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In the Garden

Written By: Bob and Linda Larson  |  Posted: Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

"Build ye houses and dwell in them; and plant gardens and eat the fruit of them." Jeremiah 29:5

While you are waiting for your seeds to sprout and your young plants to grow, there are some things to watch for. Plant diseases and insects can attack and threaten your crop. We like to use the most natural remedies possible to control these pests.
Some of the major threats are insects, plant diseases, and of course the dreaded weeds! In this article I will address insects and some ways to control or eliminate them. As I was doing research for this article, I came across a publication my Grandmother had in her library from the US Department of Agriculture dated 1961. It was interesting to me how some things have changed and how some things have stayed the same. One of the pesticides listed for use was DDT which was banned for use in the US in 1972.
One way to deter insects in your garden is to keep your plants as healthy as possible. Things that were discussed in past articles like the proper soil preparation, proper nutrients and fertilizers, and enough sunlight will grow strong and healthy plants that are less prone to problems.
It is important to inspect your garden at least weekly to look for insects. Look at the underside of leaves for mites, whiteflies, aphids and insect eggs. If you stop an infestation early before it spreads, you can take care of the problem with fewer products.
Here is a list of several more natural products and a brief description of what they are composed of:
1. Pyrethrum is an insecticide derived from the flowers of a species of chrysanthemum flower imported mainly for Kenya and Ecuador. It causes rapid paralysis of most insects but does not kill them unless combined with other poisons.
2. Nicotine is a tobacco extract highly toxic to warm-blooded animals. It is usually applied as a liquid spray. Nicotine dusts can irritate the skin and is not normally available for garden use. Nicotine is used for piercing and sucking insects such as aphids, whiteflies, leaf hoppers and thrips. It degrades quickly so it can be used on many foods nearing harvest.
3. Rotenone is extracted from the roots of derris plants in Asia and cube plants from South America. This general garden insecticide is harmless to plants, highly toxic to fish and many insects, and moderately toxic to mammals. It acts as both a contact and stomach poison to insects. It is slow acting and, in the presence of sun and air, its effectiveness is lost within a week after application.
4. Neem oil is an extract from the Neem tree native to Southeast Asia. The seeds of the Neem tree contain the highest concentration of Azadirachtim and other biologically active compounds. Moths and butterflies and their larvae are most affected by Neem oil. The product causes some larvae to remain in a permanent larval stage.
5. Soap has been used to control insects since the early 1800s. During the first half of the 19th century, whale oil soap and fish oil soaps were an important part of insect control. Recent tests indicate that Ivory Liquid dishwashing detergent diluted with water to a 1 to 2% solution provides the most consistent control and is cheap and easy to mix. Thorough coverage of the plant and repeated applications may be necessary to bring insect populations under control. Spraying several times a week may help to bring infestations under control. Expecting control with one application is unrealistic.
6. Picking and destroying bugs by hand also works. Many people don't like to think of touching insects, but this is the technique we used the most over the years. I can remember Bob walking between the rows of potato plants with a jar of water, picking potato bugs every night. Also, as children, we took caterpillars from garden plants, put them in jars and hatched out butterflies and moths. I'm not sure this controlled the population, but it sure was fun.

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