Sunday, January 29, 2017

How to maintain Pest-free Herbs

Unlike today, home-made remedies for all sorts of aches and pains were sourced from the backyard. If one has an ankle sprain or running a fever, herbs were applied by one’s mother or the local “arbolaryo” who would then either boil it or pound it into a poultice and apply it on the affected area. Mang Kepweng was the village “arbolaryo” and would teach those who cared to listen on what plants and herbs to use in such cases. It only dawned that these plants contained natural antiseptic, anti-inflammatory or anti-biotic properties. 

Of course, one has to sing Bahay Kubo to learn the herbs and vegetables that would either spice up our food or themselves provide nutrient-rich nourishment every day of the week. The song narrates a plethora of plants, spices and vegetables that can be cooked or prepared in almost endless variations so that no meal has to be replicated in a week or even 2 weeks.

Aside from medicinal and nutrition uses, these plants and herbs also serve as “air fresheners” and even pest control resources for farmers. Soap, body scrubs, ointments and tea are also sourced from these plants. 

One enemy of all these plants and herbs are insect pests and diseases. In order to  help farmers in controlling the infestation on such useful herbs, the University of Southern Mindanao conducted studies on how to address the problems caused by pests and diseases on these herbs and plants.

The study concluded that planting herbs that are appropriately distanced from each other, applying organic fertilizer, and frequent weeding are cultural practices that are critical to controlling the spread of pests and diseases. 

In controlling leaf blight, stem blight, fruit rot and other plant and herb diseases, organic pest controls were developed that uses organic materials such as chicken dung. Proper spacing of the plants together with application of organic fertilizers and frequent weeding also greatly benefitted the plants.

It was also discovered that the cleaning of the ground where the plants are being grown also has an effect on the health of the crops. Thus, clearing dead leaves from the ground decreases the chance of fungi growing and infecting the plants.

Identification of infected plants and removing them away from non-infected plants and succeeding planting of seedlings will break the cycle of these pests and diseases recurring.

This will increase production and yield. The biomass of the plants will also be increased. Most important of all, this will avoid the use of inorganic chemical pesticides that will cause more harm than good to the plants and its quality. 

The use of inorganic pesticides also pollutes the underground water table when it seeps into the ground and end up in waterways and estuaries.  

About the Author

The Mail Man

Author & Editor - The Philippines' Web Magazine on Agriculture.

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