Organic in Uganda, part 2 – Pesticides

Did you know that tobacco has many useful purposes?  I learned of its benefits as a natural pesticide this past season.  We found tobacco spray effective against most pests, particularly aphids, and even cabbage worms to some degree.  Phoebe showed us how they made the spray at school:

Tobacco leaves coarsely chopped, then “scrubbed” in water (just like you’d scrub clothing) to extract the plant juice.

Soap is finely shaved and dissolved in water.

We mix all of the above together, then strain it into a backpack sprayer, and we are good to go!

I discovered that people in Uganda will also plant tobacco around the perimeter of their gardens to deter snakes from entering. Go figure…

We made a similar pesticide spray from potato plants. Potatoes and tomatoes are in the nightshade family, so both of these can work, although they are most effective against insects that will ingest the foliage. I am certainly no expert in organic pest control, so I can only share our experiments. We also tried to plant garlic and marigolds dispersed through our vegetable gardens, but it is difficult to tell what impact they had.

There are a multitude of other sprays using hot pepper, onions, garlic, basil, etc. Some websites I’ve found interesting, though their veracity has not been confirmed:

As with any pesticide spray, be mindful of when you spray and harvest.  Make sure there are several days in between to allow the poison to break down before harvesting. Tobacco’s natural poisons work excellently against unwanted visitors. Of course, it would also works against beneficial insects.  Ideally, a well-balanced ecosystem with healthy plants is your greatest asset. Any sprays are only dealing with symptoms of a larger problem.  There is an extensive field of study and practice that deals with such topics, called Integrated Pest Management (IPM).

Feel free to share your experience and what works best for you.  Happy gardening!


Posted on October 1, 2012, in Agriculture, Heart for Uganda, Uganda, Work. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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