Garden Dilemmas, Delights & Discoveries, Ask Mary Stone, New Jersey Garden blog

Finding Neem Oil

Neem Tree

Neem Tree

Hello fellow readers, I think you’ll enjoy this little ditty of home remedies to garden dilemmas that reintroduced me to Neem Oil – the old tried and true I call my “duct tape” for the garden.

Home Remedies

Last week we spoke about aphids and a remedy using dish detergent. Since then, there’s been an influx of other kitchen and natural remedies against undesirables. Gail of Stone Church suggests garlic, a natural insect repellent, as it emits a strong odor that insects and small rodents cannot tolerate. Mix a solution of 2 cups water, four tablespoons garlic powder, and a squirt of liquid dish soap so it will stick. Spray directly onto plant leaves, repeating every day until the bugs are gone. Why not chop a few fresh garlic cloves and place them throughout the garden while you are at it?

Tom of Hope suggests Pepper Spray, which sounds like “riot control” for insects. Spray it on plant leaves and surrounding soil to keep insects, moles, and other small rodents out of the garden. Use 2 cups water, four teaspoons of powdered pepper (such as cayenne, chili, or red pepper flakes), and a squirt of liquid dish soap.

Why Neem Oil Stands Out

But Neem oil stands out of the crowd as an old tried and true. It’s a natural alternative to synthetic pesticides extracted from the fruits and seeds of the Neem tree/ Azadirachta indica – a tropical or semi-tropical tree native to India. Neem oil’s antibacterial and antiseptic attributes discourage fungi and parasites but do not negatively affect humans or mammals. And it can protect crops against rust, scab, mildew, and blight.

Neem does not directly kill insects on the crop. Instead, it is a contact insecticide, making plants taste bitter. The insects starve and die within a few days. Neem also suppresses the hatching of pest insects from their eggs. Azadirachtin, a chemical in the oil, also interrupts insects’ transitions between stages of metamorphosis. The most significant benefit of using Neem oil is that it doesn’t harm beneficial insects such as butterflies, earthworms, bees, and lacewings. Awesome. It’s like Finding Nemo.

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Column updated 12/22/22


Mary Stone, owner of Stone Associates Landscape Design & Consulting. As a Landscape Designer, I am grateful for the joy of helping others beautify their surroundings which often leads to sharing encouragement and life experiences. These relationships inspired my weekly column published in THE PRESS, 'Garden Dilemmas? Ask Mary', began in 2012. I dream of growing the evolving community of readers into an interactive forum to share encouragement and support in Garden and Personal Recoveries - seeking nature’s inspirations, stimulating growth, weeding undesirables, embracing the unexpected. Thank you for visiting! Mary

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