Thursday, August 19, 2010

Natural Pesticides/ Insecticide/Herbicide for your garden/glasshouse use

Pesticides and Insecticides

Many people in the world today are bombarded with information regarding harmful effects of Pesticides and Insecticides sold in supermarkets and garden stores. Much of the pesticides and insecticides when used properly need not be harmful. However good information is unfortunately available only in western countries who have strict laws which legislate against improper use of insecticides and pesticides and make it mandatory for users to undertake training in correct use of the pesticide or chemical herbicides, use of correct personal protection equipment (safety hoods, glasses, gloves, hats, fully covered clothes such as heavy cotton pants and shirts, fully covered shoes etc). In western countries all the chemicals come with label information, Material safety data sheet (MSDS) which gives how to use the chemicals safely without harming humans or the environment, minimum residual limits, maximum withholding periods etc.

I have looked at the labels for chemicals in India and I am yet to see any company give the level of detail either in the labels or in the so called safety information. I am yet to see legislations either by state governments or central government of India on chemical labels, MSDS, Maximum/minimum residual limits (MRL) and Minimum/maximum withholding limits. I have seen no sign of grouping of chemicals based on their active ingredients (AI) and using these grouping to develop Integrated Pest Management strategies (IPM). These exist in legislation in the western countries but Indian farmers do not seem to deserve the level of protection that the western farmers seem to deserve. India need not reinvent the wheel here but it needs to copy the legislations and systems implemented in countries like Australia and the US where these systems have now saved countless farmers lives. Please go to Internet links such as and look at the safety use of the chemical. The brand name may be different from country to country but look at the chemical active ingredient and understand the safe use of the chemicals.

Chemicals generally sold in garden stores in the west are allowed to be sold only on a diluted basis. However this is not the case in India. Please look at the banned chemicals in India and also registered chemicals in India in this blog. This is the reason I am showing how to make insecticides and pesticides for your garden using natural chemicals. I have used these in my own garden at home and in a large scale in glasshouses at work. These mixtures work very well to a large extent. Note that the idea is not to kill every bug every insect from your veggie patch or garden but to maintain at such a level that it does not lead to crop or garden loss and destruction. This is part of the integrated pest management strategy.

Herbicides are a bit harder but I will show the tricks in this blog.


1. Neem oil.

Neem oil can be bought from most Indian and Asian stores in small bottles. In India in Bangalore, if you live around Malleshwaram you can purchase it in small bottles in small kirani stores on 11th cross and also opposite a shop in Sajjan electrical store. In Sydney one can purchase it in Indian stores such as Spiceland in Home bush, Sydney. There may be other stores where there could be sold. In Coffs harbour BioNeem company sells it in larger volumes. Many Indians stores in US also will sell them.

Neem has an active ingredient called Azadiractin which is a registered ingredient in many countries.

To make a neem oil pesticide/insecticide use 5mls of neem oil and add to 1 liter of water and add a drop of liquid soap of any kind. Shake it well in a sprayer and use it immediately. Don't store this mixture as it tends to clog up. You do not need to use any gloves etc as it not harmful unless you are allergic to it.However if you have never used a chemical either synthetic or natural it is better to wear gloves, mask and covered shoes to prevent allergies or spillage.

Use neem oil to spray on insects like bugs/scales/aphids etc. spray on the whole of the plant especially underneath the leaves and in crevices. Neem also kills the juveniles but to be safe spray again in 9-10 days time as any newly hatched juveniles will be killed.

when spraying neem either spray at either dawn or dusk when there is still enough daylight but bees have left the plant. Do not kill lady bug beetles as they are the predators for aphids.

2. Pest Oil

Most garden stores in the west sell Pest Oils. Use it by adding the recommended amount on the label with water and a drop of liquid soap which acts as a surfactant or a spreader.

3. Chili and Garlic Pesticides/Insecticides

Take a handful of dry chillies which you can buy from any Indian of Asian store. Add these to 1 liter of water. Remove skin off 2-3 Garlic cloves and press it to release and break out some juice. Add this to the same liter of water which has the chillies. (wash your hand with soap and water or with yogurt to get rid of the heat from chillies). Leave this mixture to brew for a month or so. Once the brew is done, use it in the same way as neem oil. You can also use higher amount of 10mls to the liter.

4. Nicotine Insecticide/Pesticide

Purchase a packet of cheapest possible cigarettes or tobacco leaves from the shops. Ensure children do not get access to this. Next break the cigarettes into halves ands remove the filters at the end. Use several cigarettes and place it in a bottle in 1 liter of water. allow it to brew for a month. use it at 5-10 mls per liter similar to Neem oil.


Herbicides can be selective or non selective that is they can kill every plant (Roundup) or they can kill either grasses or broad leaf plants but not both. Some herbicides are compound chemicals and some are hormone based chemicals. If you are using these chemical make sure you follow the label instructions otherwise you might end up killing everything.

Natural ways of killing weeds in the garden

1. Pulling weeds out physically. Use heavy duty garden gloves to pull out weeds manually as you can be highly allergic to the weed or sap from the weed. Pull weeds pot when they are young and before flowering as many weeds spread seeds while they are being pulled.

2. Using saturated solution of table salt. Take a liter of water and keep adding salt and stirring it till no salt grain is seen. This is the saturated solution. Pour this on weeds at the center so that you kill the growth points and the plant.

3. Boiling hot water. Use boiling hot water to kill difficult to kill weeds such as onion grass weeds, wild radish, oxalis, parthenium, lantana etc. The hot water will not only kill the plant but also kill the growth points so that the weeds do not regrow. Ensure that children are not in the vicinity while carrying the hot water and use covered shoes.

To identify weeds in

Australia go to the web link

I haven't found a website for India as soon as I do I will make it available on this blog.

Few Common Weeds

Parthenium Weed
Note: Parthenium can have different color flowers and its flowers cause high levels of allergies and asthma in some cases.
Oxalis weed

Onion Grass weed
Wild Radish

Pink Lantana weed

In your lawn do not fuss too much about clovers (white and red) and get rid of them. Clovers  are very useful in fixing biological nitrogen and providing nitrogen to your grasses. Just keep them mowed. Don't fuss about every weed just ensure that it does not become a problem. Most weeds have a useful function of holding the top soil together, putting carbon into the soil, providing organic matter into the soil which allows nitrogen and other useful carbon sources to be held in the soil.

Do not water lawns too frequently unless they are being established. Once the lawn is established watering it more than once a week in winter and twice a week in summer will only limit the root development and capture of ground water and thereby kill the grasses in the lawn. over watering makes the root week and kills the plant. Cracks in the soil are a clear indication of low moisture. I do not water my lawn in summer at all most lawn grasses need summer dormancy and they grow back during natural rain periods. Good healthy lawns do not breed many weeds.

Ensure fruit trees such as oranges, lemons are watered well but not overwaterd. They need adequate watering to ensure flower set and fruit set. They also need well draining soils.

Disclaimer: This blog is provided to raise the awareness and information only. Author does not take any responsibility for improper use or misuse of the information provided. Do not copy or publish the information without written permission of the author.

Images are collected from various sources.

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