Thursday, May 26, 2011

Bugger off!

Last year at this time I wrote an entry about my beloved dog, Black Jack, who died at age 16.  He was a chow. Three years before that I lost my little Lhasa Apso, Honey, to Cushings disease.  I thought I would never get another dog but a few weeks ago I met Sweetie, a young healthy Lhasa Apso who was without a home.  So, now I have Sweetie - and fleas!  In spite of putting her on very effective flea treatment from the vet's she is a tender little thing and all we have to do is visit the dog park once and she comes back with a few hitch-hikers.  So I wanted something that would be safe to put on her that would repel fleas, not just kill them once they bite her.

Why am I writing about this here in my garden blog?  I'll tell you why: stink bugs, grasshoppers, beetles, moth borers and a host of other bugs that want to eat my garden.  So I need something that is organic for my garden and safe for my Sweetie.  Neem oil promises that and more.

Neem oil is well known in India, where it is made from the neem tree, and other parts of the world know it, too. Here in the U.S. it is sold mostly in health food stores.  There is no FDA approved uses for this but that only means they have never looked at it.  So I purchased some yesterday and am declaring war on the little suckers.

As neem is an oil, it is not water soluble without adding a little detergent.  I find that Dr. Bonner's Peppermint Soap works well and is milder.  The way to apply it to plants is by adding a squirt of soap or dish detergent to a little water then adding the neem, about 3-4 teaspoons per gallon. Add water to make one gallon and spray directly on plants and soak the soil around them. Reapply after a rain.  According to everything I've read, this is not an instant kill; it works over time.  So we'll see.

Back at home I added a few drops of the neem to some vitamin E oil and rubbed Sweetie down with it. She's still pretty itchy but that might be from previous bites.  I couldn't find any fleas on her but they are easy to miss.  Tonight I'll bathe her with it in her doggie shampoo.  I'm thinking that should do it!

I will report back here on any results both on Sweetie and in the garden.

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