I must admit that trying to grow my vegetables without pesticides is a challenge. My home made oil based pesticide does not seem to deter pests. I was upset to see the leaves of my brussel sprouts completely stripped. On careful investigation and to my utter horror I saw colonies of caterpillars on the leaves. I tried to remove them manually using forceps but just gave up when I saw the biblical proportion. I do not think I am going to grow brussel sprouts again next year. My beautiful bluish green cabbage leaves have large holes in them and the slugs seem to have taken over every inch of the garden. My squash and pumpkin plants have been afflicted by some sort of black powdery bug which is so sticky and difficult to remove. We have had small victories like a few beautiful cauliflowers and rhubarb chard and baby green tomatoes are looking promising. My initial enthusiasm has almost turned to despair and just hope that I will have some vegetables before winter for the hard work I have put in.
Watching my little vegetable garden grow and thrive is giving me immense joy and pride these days. We are finally seeing some sunshine and can feel the British summer arrive at long last. The extended daylight hours are a great blessing as I tend to linger longer in my garden, weeding, fussing over my plants and generally pottering around. My courgettes, squash and tomatoes have started to flower and I can see little red bulbs of radish poking their heads out from the soil. Shiv, my mother and the kids are showing interest in the garden which gives me added pleasure. I do have my share of sorrows as the neighbourhood cats still think that my garden is their toilet. I have tried hard to keep them off but alas, nothing seems to work. A friend suggested a website which sells predator pee. I am quite sceptical to try it and think I’d rather have Shiv or Ansh mark their territory in the garden. Then we have the problem of unwelcome guests from the pest kingdom who visit our garden in biblical proportion. I have made a homemade pesticide, which I believe is fairly potent in keeping pests away. My Dad gave me this recipe years ago and I hold it very dear to my heart as with all my memories of him.
- I use about 100 ml of Neem oil (Available in most Indian grocery stores)
- 200 ml of hand wash soap or laundry detergent
- 500 ml of water
Pour these into a sprayer bottle and shake till you get a murky emulsion. Neem oil smells vile but believe me its benefits are many. I am convinced that my courgette plants’ leaves have been spared of powdery mildew because of my spraying them generously with my home made Neem oil pesticide.