Burnett: Be very wary of homemade garden remedies

Personally I steer clear of homemade remedies as much as possible.


sometimes get a kick out of people steering away from science-based products and information while on the other hand blindly delving into homemade concoctions that are found on the Internet or just recommended by a friend.

I know I will get some flak for this but I feel I should bring the topic up. We all love to think that something we make at home from “natural” ingredients is safe and effective to use.

Heck, I’ve been known over the years to do some do-it-yourself electrical work and I am not an electrician.

Such as the time I replaced a circuit breaker and didn’t realize there is a special material that needs to be applied to the aluminum wire before installing it.

A few years later I smelled that familiar burning wire smell by the breaker box and upon inspecting it saw that the connection was definitely failing which could have been catastrophic I suppose if it hadn’t been discovered.

Similar situations can arise when homeowners take it upon themselves to concoct pest control products.

There are some concoctions that are obviously safe such as using deteregent to combat certain soft bodied insects like aphids; however, even with these it is difficult to know just how strong to make the solution in order to get maximum efficacy without causing harm to the plant (phytotoxicity).

Over the years I have heard of people boiling rhubarb leaves and cigarette butts in order to create their own “safe” insect control.

I have even heard of people using petroleum products to control weeds.

In my opinion I wouldn’t put a lot of faith in these until proper scientific testing and registration takes place.

You see there is a tremendous amount of scrutiny given to each new product coming into the market place with the latest scientific methods, and due to public pressure, which is a good thing, the criteria for registration is becoming more and more stringent.

Detailed testing has been done on all the pesticides that have been available in the market place for years resulting in the removal of literally dozens.

This screening has applied to “organic” pesticides as well, such as the case of Rotenone, a compound derived from plants that has been around for over a hundred years.

It was discovered in 2000 that it produced Parkinson’s-like symptoms in rats and is now being phased out of the market so, just because it says organic on the label it does not mean it is perfectly safe.

Due to market demand there is a tremendous amount of research being done on modern products that control the bad bugs and leave the beneficials alone so we can rely on these to be safe for both the user and the environment however I can’t emphasize enough to read all labels, use only as directed and use only on plants listed on the label.

Personally I steer clear of homemade remedies as much as possible.

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