April 12Fighting Garden Bugs With Soap Spray
For centuries, soap sprays have been used by gardeners to combat bugs. Soft soap penetrates all the crevices in plants, dislodging and destroying pests. Soaps biodegrade quickly and are relatively non-toxic to most creatures, including humans.
Soapy wash water was once popular among British gardeners for controlling aphids on rose bushes. Today the gardener can use soap more deliberately, dissolving some tincture of green soap or Ivory Soap shavings in water to make a soapy mix. Add 1 or more tablespoons of soap per gallon of water, enough to make suds. Test a little on the plant to make sure it won’t damage it.
Because washing soaps vary in composition your results may not be consistent. Soap is one kind of detergent, but not all detergents are soap. You can buy soaps specially formulated for garden use, which are made by combining naturally occurring fats with an alkali such as sodium or potassium.
Insects most affected by soaps are soft-bodied, slow-moving ones such as aphids, mealy bugs, scale and mites. Soap sprays don’t generally affect caterpillars and beetles.
For maximum effectiveness, spray plants when the weather is overcast or cool. Avoid spraying a stressed or blooming plant. Plants should be thoroughly doused to penetrate the crevices.
Submitted by Claudia. Taken from The Post and Courier by Lee Reich for AP.