Whether they need to save money or they just want to live more self-sufficiently, many people are turning to DIY projects and homemade products to get things done around the home. For gardeners this might include creating our own compost, growing our own food, implementing “home remedies” for various problems and producing our own pest and disease treatments.
One such solution is homemade “insecticidal soap,” a spray used to kill harmful insects like mites, aphids, thrips, white flies and immature leafhoppers. The fatty acids in the soap dissolve the insects’ exoskeleton, causing them to dehydrate. Many gardeners turn to this foamy remedy not only because it is effective, but also because it is more eco-friendly. There are readymade products available, but many gardeners try making their own.
Insecticidal soap can be produced in relatively 3 simple steps, with just 2 ingredients: dish soap and water. Make sure that you are not using dishwashing detergent, which may harm plants and will not work on insects because it doesn’t use fatty acids. You need liquid soap, such as pure castile liquid soap, that does not contain additives (like fragrance, moisturizer and other additional chemicals).
1. Choose a clean spray bottle or sprayer for your mixture. If you’re recycling a previously used bottle, make sure it is completely sanitized.
2. Mix 1 tablespoon of soap per quart of water, or 4 to 5 tablespoons of soap per gallon of water.
3. Mix together thoroughly and use immediately. Make sure to evenly coat infected plants, from top to bottom, for best results. It has to come in contact with the insects for it to work.
Sometimes plants will negatively react to insecticidal soaps. You may want to test your spray on just a few leaves at first. If you see any signs of spotting, withering or browning of the leaves, stop use. You can try to adjust the recipe or turn to a new product. Gardeners will add further ingredients to obtain desired results, such as cooking oil, garlic and vinegar. If soap and water do not seem to be working, research how to properly add these additional ingredients to help increase chances of success.
Lastly, hard water will reduce the soap’s effectiveness. If you have hard water, try making your spray with bottled water instead.
Image: Val Sv
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