Growing vegetables without using pesticides can be quite difficult here in Central Florida. Our garden pests enjoy the great pleasure of multiplying all year long without enduring a killing frost or even a dormant time to slow down the population growth. Add in the wide variety of bugs that love Florida, and halfway through the growing season you’re searching for a local supplier of chemical pesticides, agent orange, napalm, anything you can find to rid your garden of these crop destroying pests!
No matter where you live, chemical-free gardening is challenging. No single product works on every kind of pest. Plus, most natural or safe products have to be reapplied regularly to be effective. Is it worth the extra work? You tell me. Is it worth it to know that you aren’t slowly poisoning your family, your pets and your environment with toxins? I think it’s worth it.
One of the most effective pest controls that I’ve ever used is insecticidal soap. According to the University of Florida Extension, insecticidal soap works well against aphids, thrips and whiteflies. According to my own personal experience, insecticidal soap rocks! Unfortunately, it can get a bit costly through the season. A 32-ounce bottle can run $3 or $4. If you have a good-sized garden, this can really add up over the season.
I recently finished my bottle of store-bought insecticidal soap, and something was nibbling at my new blackberry bushes, but I knew I needed a more economical answer to the problem. Homemade insecticidal soap to the rescue!
When I first started making my own laundry soap, I was amazed at the versatility of Fels Naptha Laundry soap. Pages and pages of different websites boasted its usefulness. I vaguely remembered something about using Fels Naptha in the garden. It took a bit of searching and a bit more time verifying the information, but I finally found a good recipe for making my own insecticidal soap out of Fels Naptha Laundry soap. And it really does work! I recently had something chewing holes in my young cucumber plants, leaving telltale black sprinkles behind. A good spritzing or three with my homemade insecticidal soap spaced three days apart seems to have eliminated my problem.
Remember, this recipe makes a quart of concentrate, and a little goes a long way. Share some with a neighbor or two. The bugs will disappear, and your neighborhood will stay chemical-free.
Insecticidal Soap Concentrate
¼ bar Fels Naptha Laundry Soap, grated
1 quart very hot water
Stir the grated soap into the hot water until dissolved. Store this insecticidal soap concentrate in a labeled covered jar.
Insecticidal soap is a contact poison. Spray it directly on the bugs and leaves of the infested plants in your garden. Test on a single leaf first, checking for leaf burn, and do not use during very hot weather.
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