• Is it safe to use neem oil on edibles to prevent pests?

Depends on what type of neem oil, if you go to neighbourhood shop and get the $2 neem oil where people use it for praying, I would say not safe. I use very pure neem oil which is for human consumption, about 100% concentration.

Neem oil is banned in certain countries for agriculture use. What I do is I will only harvest my vegetables 7 days after I spray neem oil because the vegetables tend to taste a bit bitter if I harvest within 7 days.Probably because of the residue.

This 7-day witholding period also applies to sulphur soap. I personally tested it.

  • My biggest bugbear with my experience with edible plant gardening is controlling the pests that attack my plants. They range from powdery mildews to mealy bugs, white flies, aphids, caterpillars, and leaf miners. I have tried different kinds of commercial organic pesticides as well as sulphur soap and homemade fruit enzyme mixtures. It’s a constant battle that is very discouraging to me. What is your solution?

Being went through the whole journey, for organic farming, we can only mitigate pests and we cannot eliminate pests. If eliminate until zero pest, it’s not organic farming. For mitigation, it means you are able to control the pest population in such a way that it doesn’t eat all your lunch and you still have something to harvest.

  1. Your area must be sunny, pests like cooling environment
  2. Prune pest infested plants, bag and throw them (do not compost these infected leaves)
  3. If you can, mount a fan because that will help to improve ventilation
  4. When infested, check your plants everyday and use your organic pesticides on a daily basis. If you can’t do this everyday, minimumly, do it three times a week for two weeks. Remember to spray your organic pesticides early in the morning (it doesn’t burn your leaves and gives plants time to dry up – more pests will come if the leaves are wet, especially powdery mildew)
  5. Water in the morning, do root zone watering for herbs, don’t wet the leaves and this will cut down a lot of pests
  • Some of my soil has millipede, centipede and tiny triangle snails. How?

Let’s start with the soil you bought from somewhere. If the soil gets a bit wet, when you open up (air goes in), the eggs of millipede, centipede and cone snail hatch. If you want to kill those eggs, sun your soil.

Some people said pour hot water but I think in the long run, the soil become wet and more problems arise.

If you are referring to soil in your garden, please check if your garden is very damp or stuffy (no wind), if yes, pests will come.

How to get rid of cone snails? Cone snails are attracted by food. At 7 pm, get a slice of pineapple and put it in one corner of your garden (shady/cooling area). Remember skin up and flesh down. Next day before 7am (before sun is up), pick up the pineapple skin and you will see a lot of cone snails, throw. Once the sun is up, they will burow into soil. Do this for a few times.

Alternatively, take a walk at your garden in the early morning, spray a bit of water (cone snails like misty feeling), hand pick them and throw.

Centipede is poisonous. Be careful. Let it go, it won’t hide in your soil for long. It is carnivorous.

For milipede, you can cut it into two and compost it or you can pick it up using a tong and throw.

  • For outdoor veg, is it necessary to have a plastic cover on top? Should we always use nets to prevent pests? Where to buy the tent shelter for outdoor vege planting?

Plastic cover is to keep the rain out. It is important if you wish to grow vegetables well during raining season. If you can stop planting say during year end, then you can do without. Netting is to keep flying pests out like grasshoppers, caterpillars and beetles. But like I said during class, if you are ok to hand catch all these, netting is not necessary. Little Urban Oasis custom those nettings as a turn key project. Alternately, you can get PVC pipes from hardware shop and netting from daiso and DIY yourself.

  • Nai Bai leaves are very prone to having leaf miner. How to avoid it?

Cut the leaves, discard, bag and throw immediately. Over time it will reduce. Do not leave infected leaves around.

  • I used potting mix from the nursery. After some weeks, there were a lot of fungus gnats. I read online that possibly the mix already had gnat eggs in it. Wonder if I should follow some online advice to pour boiling water on the mix to sterilize it before using it?

It will be more effective to sun it. Once your soil is dry, gnats disappear.

  • Will very hot water kill the mealy bugs in the soil?

Possible. But please dry the soil well before next use.

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