Insects are extremely useful! I know this, and yet whilst I might watch in wonder as honey bees pollinate the garden, I can’t help focusing more on the aphids destroying my broad beans!
One way to combat insect pests is with a pretty old-fashioned and rather environmentally friendly soap spray insecticide. Now you can buy these, ready-made, ready tested and simple to use. But if you would rather get yours almost for free, here’s how:
Mix one part mild liquid soap with 100 parts of water.
Place in a spray bottle. Shake up well and get spraying!
Not exactly difficult is it!
There are a few things to remember though. Most importantly do not use detergent. Vegetable based liquid soap is best, and safest for the widest range of plants.
Soap spray insecticides won’t stop all your insect woes. But they will go a long way to helping with the most notorious ones. The best thing is they don’t harm most beneficial insects so long as you spray wisely.
Soap destroys soft-bodied pests, so it will also harm predatory mites who are your friend since they go around eating spider mites. So watch where you spray!
As with any liquid spray it is best to use soap sprays early or late in the day to avoid scorching your plants. There are a few plants that are particularly sensitive to even mild soap (including Ferns, Sweet Peas, Crown of Thorns, Violets, Hawthorn, Cherry, Japanese Maple, Chestnut and Mountain Ash) so it is worth testing a small area of a particularly prized specimen before you spray to widely.
Soap sprays won’t destroy larger, or hard bodied insects but they will deter some. Caterpillars on our cabbage plants are not keen on the soapy taste it seems!
Another great gardening tip from my hero John Seymour!