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Need to know series: Neem Oil

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This article is all about the neem tree and the benefits people have found when using certain by products like neem oil especially as an insect pesticide. Although the neem tree has been used for centuries, but only until now are some people only now discovering this truly amazing tree’s beneficial and healing properties.

Neem trees are found in most Indian villages.

The Neem tree Azadirachta indica is a tropical evergreen tree native to Indian sub-continent and is also found in other southeast countries like Africa. Other homes for the neem tree seem to be located amongst drier forest areas throughout all of South and Southeast Asia, including Thailand, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Malaysia, and Indonesia. It is in actual fact commonly found by roadsides and many a front yard in India. Its characteristics are those of a medium to dark green leaves, small white sweet smelling flowers with yellow and green olive-like fruits.
Neem oil is accessed by crushing the now dried neem kernels which actually has a garlic-like odour, and a bitter taste. The neem tree is noted for its drought resistance and probably shows this y where it grows around the globe. Normally it thrives in areas with sub-arid to sub-humid conditions found as mentioned before in South and Southeast Asia and Africa.

Flowers of the neem tree

Explorers found ancient Indian Ayurvedic texts which have described the Neem tree as ‘Sarva roga nivarini’ – translates: the universal healer or curer of all ailments and has been found to be used in healing as far back as 5000 BC. The Ayurvedic texts go on to describe neem as ‘Arishtha’ meaning: perfect, complete and imperishable and ‘Nimba’ from the term ‘Nimbati Syasthyamdadati’ which means ‘to give good health’

The people of India have used the neem tree for many years for all sorts of ailments and useful purposes. To name but a few uses of neem from healing all kinds of skin disorders like eczema, and even used as an internal medicine like curing ringworm. Most notably it has been recognised as an excellent insect repellent and pesticide for agricultural crops and even as protection for silo filled grain storage. 

Neem tree fruits actually resemble olives.

Neem oil has an abundance of active ingredients, and Azadirachtin is one of the more desired compounds in Neem. The neem tree has over 100 compounds with natural organic pesticide properties. Azadirachtin has the ability disrupt and rupture the genetic life cycles of a huge array of insect and pests. No harmful effects or negative symptoms on animals and beneficial insects as its actually non toxic. First time users of neem oil should not expect to see a radical change overnight, as it takes some time for it to take effect. In actual fact neem oil kills or repels against up to two hundred insect species, like mites, nematodes, fungi, bacteria, also aphids, whiteflies, snails, mealybugs, cabbage worms, gnats, moths, cockroaches, flies, termites, mosquitoes, in fact some neem products are effective against up to about different 400 species of pests are actually affected by neem extracts. It kills some insects outright, but attacks the larvae of others, and repels leaf eaters due to its bitter taste and can even some stop some viruses.

Neem oil is not an out and out insect killer. What neem does do, and how it works is actually quite unique. How they affect insects is by disrupting their behaviour, confusing them to the extent of forgetting to feed or breed or allow them to metamorphose. Neem oil has many intricate dynamic ingredients that are naturally found with this wondrous tree. But rather than being a simple poison, the ingredients are similar to the hormones that insects produce. Thus the insects take up and digest the neem oil ingredients just like natural hormones. The insect infestation eventually reduces, and eventually they will disappear. Finally their cycle is broken. Neem can even be used as a soil amendment, as it is effective for control of nematodes.

Neem tree dried kernels.

Neem simply protects your garden crops from chewing and sucking insects and also from fungal diseases such as black spot, anthracnose, rust, and mildew. Another neem benefit is that insects do not become resistant to it. Normal synthetic insecticides create resistant insects. When sprayed and tested outdoors, after allowing the plant sprayed with neem to dry, the fragrance of the neem literally put some flies off from landing on this plant, so stands out as a great deterrent too.

How to use neem oil concentrate, is to usually mix with water and spray on both sides of your plants leaves. Remember when using neem, that oil and water tends to separate, so you’ll need to keep your solution well stirred throughout the spraying. You can also mix it with insecticidal soap for more of a two pronged attack. Neem oil is bottled in different concentrations, so follow the instructions on the package to get the right proportions of oil to water. The best neem oils when purchasing are usually undiluted and in cold weather you will find you may have warm up your neem oil before it is able to pour as it does solidify in cold climates. Although if you’re fortunate enough to have a neem tree close by or in your garden you can try steeping the leaves, seeds or kernels to make a pesticide without the need for the neem oil extract.

Gardeners tend to find that after applying neem oil their plants have a lush sheen to it and look much more vibrant. This healthy look does stifle some growers into thinking they should inoculate their plants even more but too many frequent applications with neem can actually cause blockage of your leaves stomata’s slowing down your plants photosynthesis progress and in some cases can actually slow down growth rates.

There you have it, neem oil is definitely worth having in your armoury against the fight against pests and insects, and neem is organic oil and is also non toxic. Lastly to give an idea of how highly regarded this tree is, in parts of India the neem tree is literally referred to as their local pharmacy.
For any further information or instruction with using neem oil please feel free to visit us at the shop: Go Grow Hydroponics Unit 1 Mill Yard, Columbia Avenue, Edgware HA8 5EF or feel free to call on 0203 609 4067.