What Is Neem Oil Used for in Organic Gardening?

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When gardening is done without using any synthetic fertilizers or pesticides, the practice is called organic gardening. Contrary to popular beliefs, organic gardening is a lot simpler. Besides not using chemicals, organic gardening entails abiding by an entire philosophy the views organic gardening as beneficial.

Organic gardening involves taking the entire ecosystem into account by using holistic methods. This type of gardening can be done anywhere. There are more than a few benefits of organic gardening.

The benefits include everything from plant diversity to water conservation to environmental health.

Benefits of organic gardening

Here are some of the benefits of organic gardening.

Improved Soil

When you use organic components to tend to your soil, it becomes rich, and the nutrient-rich bed leads to healthier plants. The fruits and vegetables will be fresh and look vibrant. Increasing organic matter in the soil reduces the chances of erosion.

Reduced Toxins and Increased Nutrients

Vegetables and fruits grown through organic gardening have higher vitamin content and minerals compared to non-organically grown counterparts. Organic gardening doesn’t contaminate the environment with chemicals and synthetic pesticides in the process.

Saves Money

Growing organic vegetables and fruits is a lot cheaper than buying them from the market. You have to pay 30 to 40% more than regular produce, which is bound to drill a hole in your pocket.

Conserving Water

Organic gardening not only prevents soil erosion but also conserves water, which is good for drought.

Environmental Impact

This is a no-brainer. One of the most important benefits of organic gardening is a reduction in toxin chemicals. Since there is no use of synthetic fertilizers, the whole process is a lot cleaner and safer for you and the environment.

Ways You Can Repel Insects in Your Organic Garden

There are many different types of organic substances and concoctions you can use to repel insects. However, Neem oil for organic gardening is the best option out there.

Neem oil for organic gardening
Neem oil for organic gardening

Neem oil is derived from the tree Azadirachta indica, an Indian plant that is very common across South Asia. It has many uses, including insecticidal properties. The seeds of these plants have been used for centuries to make oil, soap, and wax.

Today, it is one of the main ingredients in a lot of organic cosmetic products. Neem oil is extracted from most trees, but the seeds are used to extract oil that works best as an insecticide.

The Azadirachtin is the effective compound found in the seeds. Gardeners hail the oil for its pesticide and anti-fungal properties.

This oil comes in different colors like brown, yellow, and red. Neem oil doesn’t have a good smell. It is pungent and smells like a mixture of peanuts and garlic. If you are sensitive to smells, there is a chance that this will make your stomach churn.

Neem oil has a pungent smell, which makes it a great insecticide. Bugs don’t like the taste and smell of this oil, so they flee as far as possible.

This oil tends to create an environment for the pests that are not suitable for them. It forces them to move on to other food sources and kills them off. It is the same thing as enjoying a delicious soup, and someone pours mustard oil in it.

You will surely not want to consume that. This is what bugs experience when you spray your plants with neem oil.

Spraying neem on your plants is good but make sure to dilute it. Don’t use raw neem oil. Neem oil, when mixed with warm oil, works very well but not so good with room temperature and cold water.

Neem Oil’s Secret

Azadirachtin is the most important compound in the oil. It is the most-studied and offers protective properties against infestation. A good neem oil will have anywhere between 500 to 2500 ppm Azadirachtin.

That’s why you need to get a good-quality neem oil from a decent brand that has the most Azadirachtin possible. Studies conducted on the effects of Azadirachtin proved that it could control the locust population as it lowered their appetite.

Further research shows that this compound has the same effect on insects and bugs that feed on crops. It stunts the insect’s growth by diminishing the insect’s appetite.

Neem oil is a great alternative for your organic garden. Thousands and thousands of organic gardeners rely on neem oil to ward of pests.

You might be considered with the toxicity levels of neem on people. The good news is that it has no toxic effects on people or animals. However, if you put some undiluted oil on the skin, some people might get an allergic reaction if their skin is sensitive.

As mentioned earlier, dilute the oil before using it on the crops and wear protective equipment. Wear respirator goggles or a dusk mask and a pair of gloves while spraying the crops. If you ingest the oil by accident, you may experience severe gastrointestinal irritation and inflammation.

You will get stomach cramps and diarrhea throughout the day. See a general physician if it gets worse.

Neem oil is deemed safe by the USDA. You can use it as pest control without any problems. It can be purchased online or at a local store. Most gardeners and nurseries have a stock of neem oil. This is why neem oil for organic gardening is effective and effortless.

How to Use Neem Oil

Neem oil is either available in concentrated form or a diluted spray. You can also dilute the oil with water. It should be noted that most diluted neem oil sprays are expensive, and it is better to buy the oil in concentrated form and then dilute it at home.

What Is Neem Oil Used for in Organic Gardening
What Is Neem Oil Used for in Organic Gardening

Here is how you can use neem oil for organic gardening.

How to Make Pest Repellant with Neem Oil

You will require the following ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon of cold-pressed neem oil
  • 1 quart warm water
  • If you want to make a bigger batch, scale up the quantities. The above ingredients are for a 0.5% solution, but add more neem oil if you want a stronger 1% solution.

Instructions

  • Add water to a spray bottle
  • Pour in the neem oil and then put a lid on the spray bottle
  • Shake the bottle well before each use
  • After mixing the home-made neem repellant, go out into the garden with eyewear, respirator, and gloves. When spraying the plants, use the misting applicator and spray the plants from a distance.
  • Remember to cover all the sides off the leaves and stems because that’s where the bugs prefer hanging out. Spray into the nooks and crannies of the plants, making sure the entire garden gets coverage.
  • Don’t worry about the spray getting on your soil because it will have no detrimental effects on the health of your plants. If anything, the oil will prevent nematodes from infesting your soil to improving the quality.
  • After you are done spraying your garden, discard the leftover spray down the drain. Since there are no toxic ingredients in the spray, it won’t harm the water supply. The pest repellant will breakdown in eight hours.
  • You also don’t have to worry about over-spraying your plants. Make sure to spray at least once a week with a 0.5% solution. If there any existing infestations on your plant, then use 1% solution. A strong solution will kill off the bugs. Spray two times a week until the insects are gone.

How Is Neem Oil Extracted to Make a Pesticide?

There are different methods of extracting neem oil from the neem seeds. The methods range from complex procedures to simpler ones depending on the types of resources available. One of the simplest ways of extracting neem oil is through the seed-pressing machine.

The first step is collecting the seeds. Matured needs seeds can be harvested from the trees easily. The seeds are then cleaned, dried, and sorted. The ripe ones are cleaned, and the skin is removed. The seeds are spread out in the sun for the process of drying to take place.

Drying the seeds reduces moisture content as well as makes decortication easier. Unwanted materials, such as dirt and stones, are removed, and the seeds are shelled afterward. The shelling process involves pounding the seeds, and then the process of winnowing takes place.

Winnowing involves separating the seeds from the shells. The kernels from the seeds are crushed by using a mortar and pestle. Pounding the kernels turns them into a fine mesh, followed by the winnowing process. The pulp is then sieved to get a green-brown powder.

This powder is then steamed over boiling hot water for 20 minutes. The steam allows the powder to turn into a doughy texture from which the oil is extracted.

Once the dough is formed, it is wrapped up with a fine muslin cloth or cheesecloth and then placed in the oil extraction machine. The metal lid in the machine presses the dough when the lever on the machine is turned clockwise.

With enough pressure, the oil starts emerging from the dough and flows into the barrel attached to the machine. If proper steps are taken, you will get between 100 to 150 ml of oil from 1 kg of seeds. The final steps are for the formulation of neem oil pesticide.

For most plants, 0.25 ml of oil is diluted in 20 liters of water and applied using a spray bottle. You could also use a broom. Dip it in the neem oil and water solution, and sprinkle it on the crops.

Neem Oil Benefits for Organic Garden

The best part about neem oil is that it kills off bugs at every stage. Most store-bought pesticides only target a certain stage of the lifecycle. Neem oil will work for larvae, eggs, and even adult pests. It works by disrupting the behavior of insects.

how neem oil is used in organic gardening
how neem oil is used in organic gardening

Neem oil for organic gardening works by getting rid of the harmful pests and not affecting the beneficial insects.

It smothers the larvae and eggs and makes sure they don’t grow into adult bugs. A study conducted on the oil shows that it can offer blanket protection against 200 different types of pests, such as:

  • Mites
  • Greenfly
  • Whitefly
  • Thrip
  • Aphids
  • Scale insects
  • Mealybugs
  • Grasshoppers
  • Caterpillars

Neem oil is also excellent for preventing mosquito bites. Instead of using sprays, people use neem oil spray in their homes or gardens to chase the blood-sucking insects away.

There is a possibility of some pests building a tolerance to chemical pesticides. However, in the case of neem oil, it is going to effective for a long time. If you want, you can increase the strength of the solution.

Non-toxic to Pets

Another excellent benefit of neem oil is that it is non-toxic to pests, unlike chemical pesticides. Even if your pets consume the foliage of your plants, it won’t lead to severe sickness or death. The worst it will do is give them an upset tummy.

You can also spread neem cakes (an extraction process) around the flower beds to allow them to break down in the soil for extra protection and nutrients. You can also use neem oil for your house plants. They are very safe to use.

However, remember that indoor plants have different pests compared to the ones outdoor. Therefore, start with the lowest strength solution and, depending on the type of infestation, move up.

Neem Oil is Biodegradable

As mentioned earlier, neem oil is a natural derivative of the neem tree. It is natural and biodegradable. The Environmental Protection Agency has declared neem oil to have no adverse effects, deeming it safe for the environment and the U.S population.

Neem oil will have different types of active chemicals depending on the extraction process. Some neem oils are processed using the cold-pressed method, while others are made by further processing the oil.

Doesn’t Harm the Earthworms

Regular chemical pesticides harm the earthworm, whereas neem oil encourages the activity of earthworms.  Earthworms are good for your garden soil. By burrowing through dirt, they build tunnels that function as pathways for the rainwater and air to reach the roots.

They also excrete casts that are beneficial for the soil. They include nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. When Earthworms die, their bodies decompose and help fertilize the soil.

Neem Oil for Dormant-Season Application

Besides using neem oil to kill insects at different life cycles, it can be used during dormant-season on the plants to kill eggs or overwinter pests. The types of insects it kills as dormant oil are:

  • Tent caterpillars and leaf rollers as well as caterpillar eggs that get stuck to plant leaves in winter
  • Mites
  • Aphids that lead to leaf curling in the spring season
  • Scale insects

Lawn Grubs and Neem Oil

Lawn grubs can be controlled with neem oil. They are the larvae of Japanese beetles. They have the capability of destroying the garden and soil.

They burrow a tunnel in the garden and feed on grassroots. If there is a lawn grub infestation in your garden, you will see large bare or brown spots everywhere.

Neem oil prevents the Japanese beetles from laying eggs that turn into larvae. It also repels them from your garden and inhibits their growth. Spray your garden with a neem oil solution at night.

Different Varieties

Neem oil comes in many different concentrations and formulas. You can buy whichever one suits your needs. Sometimes neem oil is used in organic insecticidal soap to make it more powerful. Neem products can be found in:

  • Granules
  • Emulsifiable concentrates
  • Wettable powders

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Conclusion

Neem oil for organic gardening is the preferred pesticide because it is natural and doesn’t leave any poisonous residue like other man-made insecticides and pesticides. It can be used sparingly by gardeners without worrying about polluting the water and harming other animals who consume water around the garden.

You can have your pets freely roam the garden without them ingesting the oil and getting sick. If you want something that’s environmentally-friendly, neem oil is excellent because it is biodegradable. It means that it will easily break out naturally without leaving behind any harmful by-products.

Hopefully, the many benefits of neem oil for organic gardening will make you choose this DIY option rather than investing tons of money on organic store-bought pesticides and insecticides.