The use of pesticides on fruit and vegetables

Mark

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Personally, I don't like to use pesticides but can I put my hand on my heart and say I've never used them? No I can't.
The following statement might be controversial and surprising to some (coming from a nature lover): I think there is a place for low toxic (or organic) pesticide use in the home garden
. However, I do believe the use of chemicals on crops should be a last resort, and done sparingly in a very thoughtful manner to minimise (or eliminate) damage to the environment and other insects.

Sometimes netting against pests isn't practical and occasionally other organic control methods just are not effective enough to save the bulk of a crop. That's my opinion anyway. :)
 
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DBayGardeners

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I suppose a consideration in pesticide use would be how desperate you are to harvest the crop. I'll leave aside residues and pollution ...

However ... I have found that mollycoddling plants results in harvesting sick plants. You might have killed the pest or disease but what do you have left? In my (not at all) humble opinion - you have sick plants. Because ... the health of the soil (number 1) is coupled with other issues such as climate, variety, aspect, nutrition and so on.

Just the other day someone was after a particular variety of Tomato believing that this one was fruit fly proof. As if! The reality for me anyway, has been if the plants are well grown (including soil and other issues as above) there are rarely fruit fly problems. The same goes for diseases.

So, in a nutshell: attend to the soil first - organic matter, drainage, nutrition, soil micro-organisms and worms. Then plant the appropriate crop and variety for your situation and season. Then look after the watering, pruning or whatever is appropriate for that crop and harvest at the peak time.

Simple? Well, simple-ish. There's more to gardening than putting in some seedlings and snipping off the odd lettuce leaf! But it's not so complex you need a University degree to do it. The first priority always must be the soil or the growing media, other stuff is good for growing plants besides natural soil.

Look at pests and diseases as a sign from the Universe that something is wrong. Sometimes pulling out the crop is the shortest route to wherever you want to go. Then planting a cover crop and building up the organic matter. Sometimes too the longest way is the shortest in the end: doing the preparatory work will give you better crops with less hassles then rushing in and planting on poor soil.
 

Mark

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Great advice this DBayGardeners and very well explained also! I think the concept a pest problem is "natures way" of saying check the soil etc couldn't have been put better - you certainly made me think.
BTW, I've never seen fruit fly in cherry tomatoes - not to say cherry T's must therefore
be fruit fly proof, just saying :)
 

Mark

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Just to elaborate a little more about the use of pesticides whether a person supports the usage or not here are some more points to consider:


  • growing fruit and vegetables (particularly annuals) at the right time of year for your region will reduce the amount of pest attacks. For example, growing braccias (broccoli, cabbage, etc) during summer in a subtropical/tropical climate is sheer plant suicide as the cabbage white butterfly grub and several other insects/diseases/fungi will attack the crop. In this scenario/example, best to grow these crops in winter.
  • Not all pesticides/sprays are considered highly toxic there are many organic applications on the market and low toxic naturally derived chemicals (like pyrethrum - from daisy flowers) which can be an ok choice IMHO if used carefully.
  • There are some bad pesticides avail to the general public for over the counter purchase; however, these chemicals are NOTHING compare to the commercial grade chemicals used in many farms on a large scale. When I see huge pyramids of perfect looking, blemish free specimens in supermarkets I often wonder what was used on these fruit and vegetables to keep them so faultless.


There it is - more food for thought :confused:
 
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DBayGardeners

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Pyrethrum however, is a contact poison and will kill any insect it touches, useful or pest. The best reason I know for not using it! Rotenone (Derris Dust) is similar with the added toxicity of killing fish. Even Garlic spray is fairly severe and as for Nicotine ... I used to think that if I used "organic" sprays (meaning not manufactured ones) that would be OK. I have since found that is not the case. Not that long ago there was an infestation of Aphids on an Okra plant. Really gross and I grabbed a can of fly spray and whacked the plant. The leaves were burned and the plant was struggling from the leaf damage and the Aphids carried on as before. The Ladybirds moved in and in a couple of weeks, the whole infestation was gone and the plant went on from strength to strength.
 

Mark

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Pyrethrum however, is a contact poison and will kill any insect it touches, useful or pest.

Yes, that certainly is true and care needs to be taken if using pyrethrum like spraying late in the day when bees are less active etc. Sometimes bad bugs attack healthy plants and for whatever reason there is an imbalance causing a lack of predator bugs, if the baddies aren't dealt with the plant/tree may never recover. Take olive lace bug, for instance, these little buggers can get out of control quickly and suck the life out of mature olive trees so if a tree is infested there is little hope nature will save it through predator insects swarming in. What to do? I think spray...as much as I hate it.


Talking about predator insects there's a growing industry in farming predator insects. There's a guy near where I live who farms predator mites and you can buy them from him online to release on the vege patch - hopefully that is where the future is heading. :D
 

Pink

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Yes, that certainly is true and care needs to be taken if using pyrethrum like spraying late in the day when bees are less active etc. Sometimes bad bugs attack healthy plants and for whatever reason there is an imbalance causing a lack of predator bugs, if the baddies aren't dealt with the plant/tree may never recover. Take olive lace bug, for instance, these little buggers can get out of control quickly and suck the life out of mature olive trees so if a tree is infested there is little hope nature will save it through predator insects swarming in. What to do? I think spray...as much as I hate it.


Talking about predator insects there's a growing industry in farming predator insects. There's a guy near where I live who farms predator mites and you can buy them from him online to release on the vege patch - hopefully that is where the future is heading. :D

Have to agree with the cherry tomatoes. They seem to be very hardy and can't wait till we have our crop and don't have to pay $10/punnet:Faint again:
 

Mark

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Have to agree with the cherry tomatoes. They seem to be very hardy and can't wait till we have our crop and don't have to pay $10/punnet:Faint again:

Yeah, they can cost a penny! We've got some ripening ATM from a self seeded plant growing off the side of our strawberry patch - they're a Godsend because our large tomatoes are still several weeks away from ripening. One of the best natural pest and disease free plants to grow is the cherry tomato and there are lots of different varieties from white, black, red, and yellow, to round, pear shaped, and pleated. Great plant to grow in the home garden. :amen:
 

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According to scientists, Pesticides and other noxious chemicals used in growing fruit and vegetable could be putting young children at risk of increasing cancer chance in later life.
 

Mark

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This week hundreds of native birds near the town of Dubbo NSW have been killed due to ingesting pesticide. These chemicals not only inadvertently kill good insects but birds too!
 

Mark

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and if birds are being effected, then I wonder if the local honey bees and native bees will be effected also, as we've discussed with our Colony Collapse thread.
Very true! I wonder... Also, they say honey will be going up in price soon due to the smaller harvests this past year.
 
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