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How To Make Nontoxic Green Fungicides For Your Garden

written by: Olivia Emisar•edited by: Donna Cosmato•updated: 7/15/2011

Left unchecked, fungi can easily destroy crops and house plants. Commercial formulations contain ingredients that are unpronounceable by most people and can be highly toxic to people and pets. With a bit of knowledge, anyone can create homemade garden fungicides that are safe for people to use.

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    Neem Oil

    Neem Tree The main reason Neem oil is included in this information is because it is an effective fungicidal that won't affect the fruits or vegetable crops in any way. The fruits and vegetables are safe to consume and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognizes Neem oil as a safe product to use in agriculture.

    Warnings:

    Neem oil is used in shampoo and soap formulations and is generally safe for both humans and household pets. It is strongly recommended to keep Neem oil away from children and pregnant women since it can cause a serious condition in children, known as Reye's syndrome, that can be fatal (this is the same toxicity found in aspirin). The oil, leaves and pods from the tree are used in some cultures as an effective contraceptive and not suitable for women who are pregnant or considering becoming pregnant.

    Neem oil is generally safe around pets, but cat owners may want to keep their pets away whenever they are spraying Neem oil in the yard or on household plants as the animals might accidentally ingest any residue left on their fur. It is especially important for pregnant dogs or cats or those that who are maintained for breeding purposes to protect them from accidental exposure.

    How to use Neem oil as a fungicide:

    You can purchase a 70 percent formulation of Neem oil at most garden supply stores and online, or purchase the oil extract and dilute the oil with water and place into a spray bottle. Do not spray during hot periods of time or it will burn the plant's leaves.

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    Baking Soda

    baking soda Baking soda is a staple in kitchens for baking and in laundry rooms for brightening dingy clothes and softening hard water to allow detergents to work better and reduce costs. It is a natural multi-tasking product that is used to absorb odors in refrigerators, dampness in basements and eliminate odors in kitty litter. Baking soda is also a wonderful fungicidal that is safe for humans, pets and surrounding vegetation.

    How to use baking soda as a fungicide:

    1. Dilute three tablespoons of baking soda into two-gallons of warm water.
    2. Add a few drops of dishwashing liquid.
    3. Mix thoroughly and pour contents into a spray bottle.
    4. Spray every three days to control fungi as needed.
    5. Always spray plants after the heat has subsided or when the sun is setting to avoid burning your plants.

    This formula also kills eggs on the underside of plants and effectively reduces mites and other microscopic pests.

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    Cornmeal

    Corn Cornmeal, which is made from corn and found in the food section of most supermarkets and household pantries, is an effective soil fungicidal that adds nutrition to the soil. It is safe for use around pets and non-toxic to humans. It is also an effective alternative to chemicals to kill algae in pools and ponds. It has been found effective on eliminating fungus on peanut farms, household plants and destroying black patch fungi.

    How to use cornmeal as a soil fungicide:

    The Dirt Doctor recommends using 20 pounds per 1,000 square feet of garden soil. There is no need to mix it in; simply sprinkle it liberally with a seed spreader on wheels if spreading over large areas.

    How to use in ponds and water features:

    Use five pounds of cornmeal per 1,000 square feet. According to The Dirt Doctor, one or two treatments will last several months.

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    Cinnamon

    Cinnamon adds a great flavor to specialty coffees and deserts, but it also makes a great fungicidal for orchids and other houseplants.

    How to use cinnamon to combat fungus:

    Orchids 

    The American Orchid Society recommends sprinkling cinnamon onto the affected leaves. Make sure to damp the leaves lightly with water so the cinnamon can stick to the leaves. Allow them to dry out for a week.

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    Aspirin

    Generic aspirin fights fungus in plants. The University of Rhode Island conducted testing on tomato plants and discovered that the plants treated with aspirin also yielded more fruit per plant than those treated with commercial fertilizers.

    How to use aspirin as a fungicide:

    It is recommended to dissolve 3/4 of a tablet into a gallon of water and spray the plants. *I hardly think that dissolving a full tablet would do any harm. Also, keep aspirin away from children since ingestion can cause them to develop Reye's syndrom.

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    Make A Garden Fungicide

    Powdery mildew and blackspot on vegetables, roses, melons, squash, and tomatoes will be eliminated quickly when you use this formula, which is just one of the many effective homemade garden fungicides that are safe for people.

    Mix the following:

    1. 3 tablespoons of cooking oil
    2. 3 tablespoons of baby shampoo
    3. 1 gallon of water
    4. 2 tablespoons of baking soda

    Instructions:

    1. Shake well before and during application.
    2. Apply only when plants are away from direct sunlight.
    3. Spray the underside of leaves as well as the top.
    4. Let it sit for four hours.
    5. Rinse thoroughly with clean water.
    6. Repeat every five days if the weather is excessively humid.
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    White Distilled Vinegar

    White distilled vinegar is a mild acid that changes the pH balance in which bacteria and mold thrive. Mix white distilled vinegar and water in equal parts in a spray bottle and spray onto the moldy soil. Spray lightly to avoid saturation and do so only away from direct sun light to avoid quick evaporation.

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    Oxygenated Bleach

    Oxygenated bleach is far superior to regular household bleach because it is not harmful to pets or humans and will oxygenate the soil while killing mold. An extra advantage is that oxygenated bleach will not harm the surrounding vegetation when applied directly or if used to wash exterior walls. To kill mold in the soil, mix one cup of oxygenated bleach to one gallon of water and spray the infected and surrounding soil lightly.

    Just like all other fungicides, oxygenated bleach solutions should be sprayed when the area is not in direct sunlight to avoid quick evaporation and to maximize its effectiveness.

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    Conclusion

    As you can see, homemade garden fungicides that are safe for people are easy to make without much of a financial investment from items found easily in the kitchen or laundry room.

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    Resources

    EPA: http://www.epa.gov/opp00001/biopesticides/ingredients/factsheets/factsheet_025007.htm

    The Dirt Doctor: http://www.dirtdoctor.com/Cornmeal_vq1372.htm

    Images: Neem Tree by J.M. Garg under CC BY-SA 3.0

    Baking soda by Michael Francis McCarthy under CC BY 2.0

    Corn by Ashlyak under CC BY-SA 3.0

    Orchids by Kabir Barkie under CC BY-SA 2.5