Do you see those lovely, lovely zucchini?Â Are they not the most lovely zucchini in the whole, wide, freaking world?Â They are to me and I will tell you why. Â Because I grew them in my very own garden. I can hear what you are thinking, “yeah, you and everyone else. I get so many of them that I grow them like baseball bats just so the kids have something to play with.â€
I know that everyone and their cousin Bob can grow zucchini, but up until this year, I have not yet been successful with this seemingly easy plant. In fact, I have not been able to get a squash plant of any kind to for darn near 8 years. How crazy is that?
The reason was vine borers. Every year those insidious little fuckers would invade my squash plants like Russian spies in the American suburbia. Quietly and stealthily they would bore into the base of the squash plant,Â and run a destructive gauntlet down the hollow core of the plant.
I tried the covering, I tried the surveillance and seek and destroy, but every time they got past me. But not this year. This year I had a secret weapon and that was neem oil. The best damn pesticide I have ever, ever used.
Ah, right now so many of you are scurrying to the bottom of this post to leave a comment that starts with “But Hannaâ€ that I can hear the collective squeak of mouse roller balls. But if you don’t know about neem oil, you need to finish reading this post. I swear you will be amazed.
You are thinking how could I use a pesticide on my garden. Think of the bees. Think of the butterflies. Â How could I be such a ruthless bitch all for the sake of a few zucchini. Ah-ha! I will say back to you. I am not. (Ok, maybe you were not thinking that. Maybe I am just paranoid.)
#1 most awesome thing about neem oil — it only kills bad bugs and does not harm good bugs (or people or pets for that matter).
As a matter of fact, bee keepers have been experimenting with neem oil to try to treat mite infections in bees. They found that you had to use a high percentage solution of neem oil to even start to hurt bees. Neem oil is typically sold at a high solution percentage and then diluted to a very low solution percentage before being applied. Even extension services say that neem oil application in the home garden is safe for bees at any time.
#2 most awesome thing about neem oil — as mentioned, it is safe for people and pets.
Don’t believe me, just go ask the approximately 1 BILLION Indian people who have been using it in cosmetics, medicines and as a contraceptive for generations. Studies have been done and the most dangerous thing they can come up with is that if you eat a lot of it, over a long period of time, it may cause liver damage. I don’t need to eat it. I have my wine to help me with my liver damage, thank you very much.
#3 most awesome thing about neem oil — It works systemically.
All those other insecticidal oils wash right off if it rains or you water from above. Neem oil gets into the plant. Which is why it worked on my vine borers. Â Any part of the plant becomes dangerous to the bad bug, inside and out. So where normal pesticides would fail, because they only stay on the surface, neem oil can succeed because it moves through the plant. So very cool.
Â #4 most awesome thing about neem oil — It takes care of other gardening problems too.
Neem oil is also effective as a fungicide and a miticide. All your gardening pest needs rolled into one.
I have to say that the only thing that neem oil lacks is that visceral satisfaction you get when watching harmful pests die. Neem oil is not an instant kill pesticide. Â It works like the Pax on Miranda. Â Â For reasons science is still not clear on, they don’t fall over dead, they just “stop fighting…and then they stop doing everything else. They stop going to work, they stop breeding, talking, eating.â€Â Except about bad bugs, instead of innocent people.
Still, I can live without the quick kill as long as it works. And, as evidenced by the fact that I now have more zucchini than I know what to do with, it does work.
P.S. Still waiting on ripe tomatoes. 🙁