Insecticidal Soaps – What is it & How to use it

Do you know what an insecticidal soap is? Does it differ from regular soap? Insecticidal soaps are specifically formulated to have insect-killing properties, while being safe for most plants. All regular soaps are made with a long chain of fatty acids.

Insecticidal soaps kill susceptible insects by washing away the protective coating on the surface of the insect and by disrupting normal membrane functions inside the insect. The insects must come into direct contact with the spray droplets for the material to be effective. Good coverage is essential and doesn’t affect your health.

The soaps have no residual activity toward insects. Note that repeated applications can sometimes have damaging effects on some types of plants. I normally dilute the insecticidal soap by matching the contents with water.

As with all pesticides, you should always follow label instructions carefully. Remember, with insecticidal soap, make sure you spray the insects. Spraying the leaves will not provide as a protective agent.

This is an organic way of controlling pests. More and more growers are turning to chemical free every growing season. Just remember, as with any chemical, too much is never good. Be sure to always follow the directions. Diluting is a good way to maintain, but on the side of caution.

Between my husband and I, unknowingly, we sprayed our potato plants in the spring with insecticidal soap for approximately four days out of a total of seven because the Colorado potato beetle was so prevalent. I didn’t know he sprayed and he didn’t know I had been spraying. Well, can you guess what happened? Our pretty potato plants went to potato heaven.

Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog by clicking on “Subscribe to Master Gardener Girls’ Gardening Blog by Email”. I will keep you up to date with my blogs and occasionally will give you free items like my Free Gardening Journal that you will receive when you subscribe.

Happy Gardening from the Master Gardener Girl!!

Japanese Beetles – How to Control Them!

Are Japanese beetles making your green bean plants look worse than baby swiss cheese? For the last two weeks, I have been constantly picking beans and spraying Japanese beetles, which is why I haven’t blogged since then. They are becoming a problem for all of us and I will explain what you can do to prevent and or control them.

Unfortunately Japanese beetles are quickly becoming a nuisance to farmers, gardeners and landscapers. Over the last few years the pest has been making a steady migration. Japanese beetles are less than one half inch long metallic green beetles. The beetles have hard copper brown colored wing covers. An easy way to distinguish Japanese beetles from other beetles is the row of white tufts that protrude from underneath the wing covers and from the tip of the abdomen.

Another distinguishing characteristic for the Japanese beetle is the absence of foliage on your favorite plants coinciding with the presence of hoards of copulating beetles. Adult beetles emerge from the ground in late May and early June. Adult beetles live approximately 30 to 45 days. Heavy feeding pressure from Japanese beetles usually lasts from 4 to 6 weeks. By September damage from the beetles has usually slowed down significantly.

Japanese beetles are not picky eaters and will feed on over 300 species of plants. Foliage of roses, many tree fruits and grapes seem to be especially attractive to the beetles. The grubs of these beetles can also damage turf before they emerge in the spring. Japanese beetles are known to fly as far as 5 miles but one to two miles is more common. There migratory nature makes controlling the beetles very challenging.

Even if you kill every beetle on your property today, more may begin showing up immediately. Japanese beetles apparently produce aggregation pheromones which attract more beetles to feed and find potential mates. Additionally, beetles may be attracted by volatile odors produced by damaged plants. It is important to maintain low numbers of beetles. High beetle populations produce more pheromones and volatile oils and attract even greater numbers of beetles.

Many chemicals are labeled for control of Japanese beetles. I have heard several reports of good control being obtained from using the chemical carbaryl (sevin®). If you choose to use an insecticide be sure to follow the label instructions and keep up with the spraying. Whatever control strategy you implement, do it when you see a few beetles and before the pest is out of control.

Some grape growers have used a product made from a fine powder of kaolin clay called Surround®. I first heard of this product several years ago when it was being used for control of fungal diseases on apple trees. The product forms a thin protective layer on the trees limbs and leaves. In addition to stopping some fungal infections the product also seems to camouflage plants from Japanese beetles. If the product is applied before the arrival of beetles they never view those plants as food and simply move on to other food sources.

Kaolin clay products do create a haze on plant surfaces that is not aesthetically pleasing which makes it impractical for plants in a landscape setting. Small amounts of beetles on high value plants can be removed by hand. Neem extracts may deter Japanese beetle feeding but will probably not give adequate control when populations are high.

Direct spraying with insecticidal soaps can kill Japanese beetles on contact but will provide no residual protection. These beetles are another in the long list of trials that we gardeners are privileged enough to get to face. Like any trial we’ll come out of it better on the other end and undoubtedly have some good stories to tell about the process.

For pesticides, insecticidal soaps and all your gardening needs, click on Gardens Alive! Remember, they still have the $20 for $40 offer at checkout…so now is the time to buy!

Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog by clicking on “Subscribe to Master Gardener Girls’ Gardening Blog by Email” . I will keep you up to date with my blogs and occasionally will give you free items like my Free Gardening Journal that you will receive when you subscribe.

Happy Gardening from the Master Gardener Girl!!

Are insects bugging you? Not anymore!!

Are several bugs eating your plants? It is that time of year when the pests can be real troublesome. The squash bugs are in full force and are mating everywhere and are leaving their larvae (eggs) on my squash, pumpkin and zucchini vegetable plants. These larvae are brownish-orange dots laying in short rows of 4 to 8 and can be found on top or on the underneath side of leaves. Trust me, you don’t want these eggs to hatch.

Japanese beetles (shiny, copper) are attacking my sweet potatoes while the Colorado beetle (orange/cream/black striped or puffy dark orange with black dots around its lower body) is attacking my regular potatoes. Cabbage worms are aggravating my cabbage my giving it the look of swiss cheese.

Keep in mind, even though the homemade recipes work, the insects can become immune if used constantly. You must switch every time you need to spray. If these are issues you are dealing with, I found a great product for you. This is one of the handiest sprays that you could own. For an 8oz bottle, this product makes 12 gallons…that is a lot!

This product is called “Liquid Rotenone/Pyrethrin”. This product controls aphids, asparagus beetle, bean beetle, cabbageworm, cherry fruitfly, Colorado potato beetle, cucumber beetle, elm leaf beetle larvae, thrips, flea beetle, garden fleahopper, webworm, harlequin bug, Japanese beetle, mites, leafhoppers, leafrollers, raspberry fruit worm, rose chafer, sod webworm, squash bug (nymph) and squash vine borer, strawberry leafroller and rootworm vegetable weevil.

For those of you who know I am always in search of great products with great prices, you will want to buy this product from Gardens Alive! Remember, they still have the $20 for $40 offer…so now is the time to buy!

Happy Gardening from the Master Gardener Girl!!

Organic Garden Recipes—More on Fertilizers, Pesticides & Fungicides

Are you in need of some organic recipes to use in your garden? Instead of using chemicals, organic gardeners like to take a simpler approach to fertilizers, pesticides and fungicides. Successful versions of each can be mixed up using ingredients that are already in your kitchen along with the kitchen blender.

You can make garlic and water insecticide that can be kept in a frozen concentrate form and used later. The garlic mixture can also be added to a seaweed fertilizer, such as kelp, for an extra boost of nutrients every few weeks. A homemade pesticide can be made from habanero peppers (or any other hot pepper) and a homemade fungicide made from baking soda. Plus, tips on the use of eggshells to prevent blossom end rot and aluminum foil to ward off cutworms.

Garlic Tea concentrate:


Liquefy two bulbs of garlic

1-1/2 cups of water


Mix to create concentrated garlic tea, a good all-purpose insecticide that makes crops undesirable to pests. Strain any solids out of the mixture and add enough water to make a gallon. Use this concentrate right away, or freeze in 1/4-cup muffin tins to use later.

Garlic tea can be brewed in combination with a seaweed fertilizer:


4 Tbsp. seaweed

1 Tbsp. vinegar

1 frozen garlic-tea cube


Mix in a gallon sprayer. You can apply this application weekly in the spring and once every two to three weeks in the summer months. Habanero peppers also make a good contact insecticide when blended with water. It too can be frozen in concentrate form. It can be added to the seaweed-garlic mixture but should be applied only where an active pest problem is observed.

For curing black spot, mildew or brown patch make an effective fungicide:


4 Tbsp. baking soda

1 tsp. gentle soap

1 gallon water


Mix in a sprayer or watering canner. Use this mixture sparingly and keep it off the soil as it affects soil pH.

Tomato Tips: A few other items in your kitchen can help tomato plants. Aluminum foil can be wrapped around the lower 2 inches of the stems of the tomato plants and kept above grade at planting deters cutworms. You could also use paper towel or toilet paper rolls, and tomato sauce cans, with no top or bottom. Broken eggshells can be put in the hole with the tomato plants providing calcium to help prevent blossom end rot.

If you are in need of a good seaweed fertilizer, I have two links under my recommended link section for Gardens Alive! and in the upper right corner of my home page.

And now I would like to offer you free access to my gardening journal when you subscribe to my blog, a 16 page journal that you can use season after season. Click on Subscribe to My Blog.

Happy Gardening! – The Organic Home and Gardening Gal & Master Gardener

Homemade Organic Recipes – Insecticides, Fertilizers, & Fungicides

Are you into to Organic Gardening and are looking for some easy and inexpensive ways to take care of insects and fungal diseases? Well, I have got the solutions for you. I have 12 recipes for you.

Click here to see the list of organic recipes.

A lot of the items used in these recipes were found at Gardens Alive! They are also running a special right now where you can get $20 off a $40 order.

For those of you who don’t want to miss a thing, don’t forget to subscribe to my blog by clicking on “Subscribe to Master Gardener Girls’ Gardening Blog by Email” .

Happy Gardening!! Enjoy!!