With Sevin Dust, I fall in the middle. To me, it is like a gun – keep it safe, respect it as a potential danger, use it carefully only when necessary (hopefully never!).
When I first started gardening, a friend said use Sevin dust to take care of pests. In the years after, I have become more wary of this product and chemicals in general. I have seen articles and posts saying people use it in their garden, on their dogs, on their chickens. They use it all the time. I don’t really trust this, though, as who really tracks their exposure to chemicals and effects on their bodies? It is because of the overuse of so many chemicals in big Ag and contaminated food that we homestead (well, one of many reasons).
I have seen articles where people say it is a poison and would never use it. It will get everywhere and contaminate everything. I see posts about evil Monsanto, and it is probably well deserved. But just because it is a chemical, does not mean it is automatically bad or evil. It is the overuse of chemicals that I think is bad.
Neem Oil – The First Line of Defense!
I have learned that Neem Oil takes care of most of my garden pests. It is my first line of defense for me. I am now applying it weekly preemptively, too. It claims to be an effective fungicide, which I agree with in my experience. It has already worked great on my squash this year. My peas don’t get too many pests, and so I don’t normally spray them. I have noticed fungus/mold growing on them, though, which makes sense with all the rain we have been getting. I had forgotten the fungicide effects and should have been spraying them too!
But I bought a 3 pack of Sevin Dust a few years ago and have kept it just in case I needed it. It is like a gun – I keep mine in a safe and I hope I never have to use it.
Maybe a month ago I noticed small little holes in the leaves of my eggplant. I have included them in my Neem Oil spraying, so I assumed it would coat the pests and whatever was eating the leaves would die off. I assumed they were aphids, and being busy, I moved on with other chores.
A few weeks later I saw that there seemed to be more holes in the leaves. I also noticed small black insects which Google told me were flea beetles. When I sprayed them with Neem Oil, they definitely jumped away. It did not seem to be effective on this insect.
From the Old Farmer’s Almanac:
Flea beetles usually don’t cause fatal damage to established plants because the leaves are too large. The real danger is that they can spread bacterial diseases, such as wilt and blight, from plant to plant. Therefore, they must be controlled at once….
Try this homemade spray to control flea beetles: 2 parts rubbing alcohol, 5 parts water, and 1 tablespoon liquid soap. Spray the mixture on the foliage of garden plants that are susceptible to these pests.
When I read the advice on the spray, it seemed to me more of a preventive measure. I had been spraying with Neem Oil preventively and it did not work… I did not want to try some new and not have it work. I wanted to save my eggplant, healthy and disease free. I did not have any fruit growing, and only a few blossoms, and so I thought it was a good time to use Sevin Dust.
My garden is enclosed with a fence, so my dog cannot brush up against it. When my kids came out to help in the garden, I explained what the powder was and not to walk down that row at all. In time, the rain and weather washes off the powder and it degrades, so there is a specific time period to be careful.
Maybe I was not pre-emptive enough with the Neem Oil. Maybe in future I should use the spray the Almanac suggests. Maybe there is another treatment for the flea beetles But, ultimately, I think Sevin Dust is still a tool, and if respected, can be used wisely and carefully.
Below is a current picture of my beautiful eggplant blossoms, and you can see some of the holes from the flea beetles.
Below you can see some of the new growth at the top of the plants, healthy and spot free!