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I’ve heard of mixing up homemade formulas with baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), oil and soap. Are they really as effective?

No they are not. While some homemade sprays may provide some level of control they are not anywhere near as effective as GreenCure a nd here's why:

The GreenCure formula is made of potassium bicarbonate (not sodium bicarbonate) which is combined with built in, safe to use surfactants, that have a synergistic impact on itís fungicidal power. Here's the story.

In 1985 renowned plant pathologist, Dr. Ken Horst of Cornell University began research into the usefulness of bicarbonates. The research was intended to quantify the usefulness of bicarbonates, identify their mode of action and determine the most effective way to use them.

Several years of research resulted in some significant and surprising discoveries. "The research demonstrated the ability of bicarbonates to effectively inhibit and kill mold spores and determined that potassium bicarbonate was 25 to 35 percent more effective than sodium bicarbonate (baking soda)," says Horst.

The leaf on the right was sprayed with a homemade formula which beads up and does not provide complete coverage. The leaf on the left was sprayed with GreenCure® and spreads evenly across the surface.

The research further indicated that a spreader-sticker mechanism was required in order to control and maintain the effectiveness of the bicarbonates. "Without a spreader-sticker," adds Horst, "You don't get complete coverage of the leaf which is necessary to prevent or cure fungal diseases."

News of Dr. Horst's research quickly spread and has led some gardeners to experiment with mixtures of homemade fungicides. The use of oils or soaps to spread and stick the bicarbonate can lead to an unwanted build-up of chemicals, alter soil pH levels and increase the potential of phytotoxicity or burning of the leaves. Furthermore, oils and soaps can leave residue and unwanted tastes on fruits, vegetables and herbs.

During the years of research many spreader-sticker systems were tested, including the use of horticultural oil as an additive. This resulted in better control of the solution and proved more effective than water and bicarbonates alone, unfortunately the test results also showed that horticultural oil as an additive had many negative characteristics.

Negative characteristics of horticultural oil as an additive to bicarbonates included:

  • Repeated use for several weeks causes phytotoxicity or burning of the leaves.
  • It results in an oily residue building up on the leaves, fruits and vegetables.
  • There is an occasional visible crinkling of the leaves.
  • The oil separates rapidly from the water making application difficult.

For these reasons and others, horticultural oil was rejected as a spreader-sticker.

In order to find a safer, more efficient additive, more than 350 spreader-sticker systems were evaluated. Several spreader-sticker additives were discovered which increased the effectiveness and reliability of bicarbonates for use on ornamentals, vegetables and fruits. Additional research was done on a wide variety of plants and quantitative results were determined for a broad spectrum of fungal diseases.

Ultimately, a combination of spreader-sticker additives in very specific quantities was found to be significantly more effective than all other alternatives. The additives that were chosen are both effective and safe and are reliable ingredients used in personal care products. The formulation in GreenCure® uses precise amounts of these additives and of course since GreenCure® contains only the raw ingredients, the formula does not include all the additional unwanted chemicals that would be present in household products used in homemade concoctions.

Many of the formulas that are repeated on websites, in articles and various publications call for the use of dishwashing soap or other detergents. Adding in soaps that are comprised of a laundry list of chemical ingredients may not be wise. Most soaps now have anti-bacterial chemicals such as Triclosan that could kill necessary bacteria in the soil and may be detrimental to nutrient absorption. Accumulation of these chemicals in or on treated vegetables may not be beneficial. While some homemade concoctions might be somewhat useful, is it worth the risk and hassle?

"It's really amazing how widespread and how often repeated the myth has become." says Horst, referring to homemade fungicides. "Considering the amount of research that went into finding the most benign and effective solution to control plant mildew, there really is no reason for gardeners to create homemade solutions that may not be effective and may produce unfavorable results."

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