September 13, 2009
News to me: According to Dr. Murray Isman and his team of crack ag researchers, (organic) garden-variety pests may have stolen their last strawberries, thanks to his “killer spices.” Isman & Co. found that certain herbs — among them thyme, rosemary, clove and mint — harbor oils that are repugnant, and in some cases fatal, to invasive insects. Reports the BBC:
Some spice-based commercial products now being used by farmers have already shown success in protecting organic strawberry, spinach, and tomato crops against destructive aphids and mites. … An additional advantage is that insects are less likely to evolve resistance. … They’re also safer for farm workers, who are at high risk for pesticide exposure.
Of course, these essential oil–based pesticides aren’t as potent as their engineered brethren; they evaporate quickly, meaning farmers have to re-treat crops often; and they aren’t effective against biggie-bugs, like caterpillars and beetles.
So, while larger farms may be a few years away from minty fresh pest control, Small-time gardeners (like us!) could take a tip from Isman and protect our tomatoes with thyme.