Is Castor Oil completely safe to use in the garden?

rdback(Z6 VA)July 1, 2009

I've got vole(s) eating my onions and garlic. It tunnels around until it finds a row, then just goes down the line, munching its' little azz off! Every morning 3 or 4 more plants are gone. It's already wiped out 15 row feet of onions in one bed. Now, its moved across the garden to another bed of onions and a bed of garlic!

Doing a little research, it sounds like castor oil is effective in driving these pests away.

I've found a castor oil based repellent (Dr. T's Mole Out @ Lowes). It's 10% castor oil mixed with 90% clay pelletized. Now, the label says safe for yards, flower beds, gardens, etc. but it doesn't say VEGETABLE gardens specifically. Paraphrasing, the directions say poke a hole in the tunnel every five feet and pour a tablespoon of the granules in. Then, cover the hole. Lastly, sprinkle over entire area and water in - lasts up to 60 days.

Have any of you folks tried this approach? Did it work? I guess I'm a little concerned about sprinkling this stuff over the whole row and/or garden, being these are vegetables I'm planning on eating myself lol.

I sure need to do something though, that's for sure.

Thoughts / opinions / ideas most welcomed.

Thanks

Rick

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anney(Georgia 8)

This site says it's safe to use around about everything, including gardens.

And here's the Material Safety Data information (a PDF file). It doesn't look like there's anything toxic to plants or humans in it.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2009 at 2:23PM
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engk916(6/NJ)

from what i've read, castor bean oil is highly toxic and a known natural source of ricin (a poison)

    Bookmark   July 1, 2009 at 9:39PM
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DrHorticulture_(Z3 Central Saskatchewan)

It's safe. All the ricin is present in the protein component of the castor bean, removed during oil refining.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2009 at 10:29PM
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spaghetina(SF Bay Area)

Castor BEANS contain ricin, however the OIL is supposed to be safe and is in such common things as perfume and food additives.

As an aside, people even use it on their eyelashes and eyebrows to make them grow in denser and thicker, and swear by it (haven't tried it myself).

    Bookmark   July 1, 2009 at 11:02PM
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rdback(Z6 VA)

Thanks for the links Anney and thanks to all who provided their opinions. I went down to the garden this morning and three more onions gone. I'm heading back down with repellent in hand this time.

Wish me luck!

Rick

    Bookmark   July 2, 2009 at 9:39AM
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wally_1936(8b)

The Ricin will only make you ill. There was a case a while back the wife after reading about Ricin tried to feed it to her husband and only make him sick and she ended up in prison for all her efforts.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2009 at 4:22PM
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jerseygardengirl

Lol wow, she never heard of the word divorce I guess.

On another note, what exactly IS a vole? I keep hearing about them but never saw one.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2009 at 6:41PM
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jimster(z7a MA)

When I was a kid, castor oil was a commonly used laxative, very potent and distressing in its results.

Voles are small mouselike animals who run around on the surface of the ground. They ate a large part of my bean crop, the seed part, one year.

Moles are similar, but they burrow underground, making a network of tunnels. They feed on the underground parts of plants.

Jim

    Bookmark   July 2, 2009 at 11:31PM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

Moles do not feed on plants. EVER. Moles are insectivores and eat ONLY soil insects--grubs, earthworms, etc. They do no harm whatsoever to plants. Voles, on the other hand, are like mice that live underground and make serendipitous use of mole tunnels. They are the culprits that eat the roots of your plants. But I have never heard of voles that eat garlic and onions. In addition, it is extremely unlikely that castor oil will have any effect of voles.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2009 at 6:53AM
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jimster(z7a MA)

I stand corrected. Moles are insectivores. Thanks for the catching that.

Jim

    Bookmark   July 3, 2009 at 10:53AM
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