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How are people tackling the bugs that find our systems?  I've been using a combination of beneficial insects (mainly ladybugs) and spraying with insecticidal soap when I have to...but I worry about the effect that using too much of that might have on the fish.  If a plant is pretty small (lettuces, greens, beans, peppers) and is pretty bug infested I'll take it out of the media and let it soak in the fish tank for about 15 minutes. the bugs drown, and the fish seem to love them.

I know some people use neem oil with success.  What are the downsides?  What else do you guys use?

Also, my most buggy plants are salad greens and peppers.  They've stayed totally off my herbs, broccoli, and tomatoes.  What have other's experience been with this?  Any hypothesis as to why?  Travis thinks it has something to do with nitrogen levels...

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Well, not really magic...and though I've not tried it, many cucurbits (cucumbers, zucchini, gourds, watermelons, melons etc...) contain chemicals called cucurbitacins (as far as cukes go, I think this chemical is found mainly in their skins, but I am not sure). This is one of the bitterest tasting chemicals the human tongue can register, and are generally cytoxic to some animals and insects, while an attractant for others. So go figure. I guess once again it may depend on set, setting and circumstances...

 Here's one study...there are other as well. http://www.must.edu.eg/Publications/cucurbitacin.pdf

Now whether or not the cucumber/aluminum pie pan or cucumber/baking soda trick actually work is another story, but their does at least seem to be a basis/foundation for such a thing...

I guess i don't see the connection between the skins of cucumbers and an aluminum pie plate hanging nearby. The skins of cucumbers may be bitter but many people eat them with no problem and never both to peel it. We always eat the "skin" of zucchini and don't find it bitter. Many of these anecdotal approaches are merely that. I tried, for years, to see if planting marigolds near my garden helped and, frankly, it never did. Others may have had success. 

I will stick to garlic and hot pepper sprays that have more proven success though, I will admit, are not at all foolproof. Despite spraying lima bean pods with garlic and hot pepper and Bt, they still disappear. 

Vlad Jovanovic said:

Well, not really magic...and though I've not tried it, many cucurbits (cucumbers, zucchini, gourds, watermelons, melons etc...) contain chemicals called cucurbitacins (as far as cukes go, I think this chemical is found mainly in their skins, but I am not sure). This is one of the bitterest tasting chemicals the human tongue can register, and are generally cytoxic to some animals and insects, while an attractant for others. So go figure. I guess once again it may depend on set, setting and circumstances...

 Here's one study...there are other as well. http://www.must.edu.eg/Publications/cucurbitacin.pdf

Now whether or not the cucumber/aluminum pie pan or cucumber/baking soda trick actually work is another story, but their does at least seem to be a basis/foundation for such a thing...

You stick to what works for you...But, what does the fact that people eat them have to do with the price of tea in China? It's not supposed to repel people, but insects. 

Again, I'm not saying that the pie pan works, nor am I saying that it doesn't. What I'm saying is that it is undeniable that industry uses cucurbitacins in various applications in regards to insect control and that they are most definitely 100% commonly accepted, scientifically proven (over and over for a long, long time now) cytotoxic to some animals and insects. That is all. No magic involved.

Personally I prefer the pepper and garlic spray, but that's me.

You're right. The key is scientific studies and so much of the earlier days of organic gardening depended upon anecdotal evidence that hadn't been subjected to rigorous studies. That's why I like Gillman's book. It's like what we read about herbal remedies. If some of these herbs can act as antibiotics then that would be easy to prove in double blind studies. As Wally in My Dinner with Andre said, "We know things now." 

I'll stick to organic gardening because we also know that chemical pesticides are bad for us and for our environment. But I want to see things subjected to testing to see if they work and to see if they are harmful. This is where the FDA and others are falling far short. 

So it isn't your remedy that i criticize; it's the aluminum pie plate. 

Vlad Jovanovic said:

You stick to what works for you...But, what does the fact that people eat them have to do with the price of tea in China? It's not supposed to repel people, but insects. 

Again, I'm not saying that the pie pan works, nor am I saying that it doesn't. What I'm saying is that it is undeniable that industry uses cucurbitacins in various applications in regards to insect control and that they are most definitely 100% commonly accepted, scientifically proven (over and over for a long, long time now) cytotoxic to some animals and insects. That is all. No magic involved.

Personally I prefer the pepper and garlic spray, but that's me.

Agreed. Much of what was anecdotal is now upheld by solid science, while much turns out to be utter hog-wash. Throw "the telephone game" into the mix, and our human propensity to misunderstand or misrepresent what a person or a even what a study says (or even worse, our penchant for spreading information because we desire it to be true, even though we have no idea whether it is or isn't) just makes things worse...

Luckily it is pretty easy to try things out for ourselves, or even better, have people like Mr. Gillman who do some of that leg work for us. But still, nothing but nothing beats trying something out for yourself, in your set and setting.

If I could chime in here... in my dirt garden I've tried all kinds of "cures" for pests that everyone on line swears by, and they didn't work at all.  I have a hunch there are missing pieces of information about garden conditions, weather/heat, conditions of the plants (and the pests) at the time, and other data that goes overlooked or unnoticed.  These other factors may play into the "cure" way more than the one suggesting them realize...and the conditions at someone else's garden would never be duplicated.

For example...plant marigolds around everything they say... well our marigolds (we have about 50 plants all over our yard) get attacked by pests themselves.

All this being said, I did stumble on one situation that I'm going to continue watching and testing this year and next... I cut up handfuls of chives into 3"-4" lengths and laid them heavily under my pepper plants this year and put new ones every week or so.  Unlike the last 3 years...what used to be an aphid nightmare on the pepper leaves is not a problem this year.  But jury is out for me still until I see it happen this way for 3 years with all different conditions and weather.

Bravo Bradly. Good comments. Living in a sub-tropical area, as I do, with heat, humidity, and no killing frosts presents unique challenges so what you say is right. It depends.

Let us know how your chive experiment proceeds. 

there have been plenty of studies on the cucumbers.. it does work for some pests..

i've used chilli/garlic/pepper spray with limited success.. ladybugs have worked the best for me so far, and they last quite a while in the fridge so i never use them all up at once.. nematodes took care of my fungus gnat problems

the aluminum pie plate was my bad.. i was thinking about beer traps for slugs.. been reading about a lot of "natural" pest controls lately

studies have shown that cucumber skin/slices are especially effective in keeping snails and slugs away, some ants as well..

+1    :)

Bradly said:

If I could chime in here... in my dirt garden I've tried all kinds of "cures" for pests that everyone on line swears by, and they didn't work at all.  I have a hunch there are missing pieces of information about garden conditions, weather/heat, conditions of the plants (and the pests) at the time, and other data that goes overlooked or unnoticed.  These other factors may play into the "cure" way more than the one suggesting them realize...and the conditions at someone else's garden would never be duplicated.

For example...plant marigolds around everything they say... well our marigolds (we have about 50 plants all over our yard) get attacked by pests themselves.

All this being said, I did stumble on one situation that I'm going to continue watching and testing this year and next... I cut up handfuls of chives into 3"-4" lengths and laid them heavily under my pepper plants this year and put new ones every week or so.  Unlike the last 3 years...what used to be an aphid nightmare on the pepper leaves is not a problem this year.  But jury is out for me still until I see it happen this way for 3 years with all different conditions and weather.

i did find this on aluminum/cucumber;

"they may create a chemical reaction when in contact with aluminum. Cucumber skins contain the chemical curbitacinm, which is an excellent pest control substance. Spreading peels around sends many pests in opposite directions. Adding cucumber peels to an aluminum pan or soda sets off a chemical reaction that repels harmful grubs, beetles and even cockroaches in the garden, lawn and around the home."

maybe i did see something about the aluminum pie tins..

 

 

Hehe...now if we could only find a reference that replaces the phrase "they may create a chemical reaction when in contact with aluminum" with "the following reaction has been observed when Cucumis sativus comes into contact with aluminum..."...

Again, it's not that far fetched though for odors/gasses to be given off when an acid comes into contact with a metal. I fondly remember blowing stuff up with HCL and zinc (and the subsequent hydrogen gas that was released). And much more recently while I was soldering together my Struvite reactor I had to brush on an acid (I used 14-16% HCL) over the galvanized metal parts I wanted to solder together, to get rid of the zinc layer. It smelled and stung the eyes a bit...

There are many many such common reactions between acidic enzymes and various metals...

So again...quite feasible and intuitive to a degree, but more hardcore data would be very, very nice...



Keith Rowan said:

i did find this on aluminum/cucumber;

"they may create a chemical reaction when in contact with aluminum. Cucumber skins contain the chemical curbitacinm, which is an excellent pest control substance. Spreading peels around sends many pests in opposite directions. Adding cucumber peels to an aluminum pan or soda sets off a chemical reaction that repels harmful grubs, beetles and even cockroaches in the garden, lawn and around the home."

maybe i did see something about the aluminum pie tins..

 

 

i agree...

even snopes says it is under investigation!  lol

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