Peppers for pizza: just use soap

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

At the Edible Garden Festival, I demonstrated how to create a pizza garden with tomato, pepper, oregano, basil and parsley plants. I put 1 of each in a terra cotta bowl containing a 50-50 mix of potting soil and aged horse manure. I helped some pint-sized gardeners learn to work with transplants and carefully pat down the root balls, adding more potting mix as we needed it.

Banana peppers.

The little gardens were meant only as inspiration for larger versions, but just for the fun of it, I have kept them on the back steps to see if they will really produce enough produce for a pizza.

Here’s what is happening. The peppers have grown really well. The tomatoes are coming along more slowly. Basil has a few tiny brown spots from the larvae of flies, but they’re not too bad. And the oregano and parsley are going great guns.

Because the plants are crowded in their little bowls, I have had some white flies and scales under the leaves of the bell pepper and the banana pepper. So I’ve used a homemade insecticide.

Cayenne peppers.

Using a vegetable grater, I grated the corner from a bar of Castile Soap, and put the shavings in a glass bowl. I covered them with water and microwaved them until the soap pieces had melted. Then, I added a little olive oil (my soap, Kirk’s Castile, is made with coconut oil, not olive oil, so I added some just because Dr. Bonner's Castile contains olive oil, so why not?). Next, I poured about 1/8th of a cup of this into a quart spray bottle and filled it with water. I carefully sprayed the undersides of all the pepper leaves, as well as the basil in hopes of preventing more fly damage.

The spray works well, but I have to repeat spraying every 7 days or so to kill the scale crawlers. 

Bell pepper.

This is an old-fashioned and non-toxic spray that you can try on your own veggies.

About 2 to 2 ½ tablespoons of liquid Dr. Bonner's Castile soap to a quart of water. This is a standard recommendation. If you use the liquid, you’ll save yourself some trouble.

Meanwhile, the peppers are handsome enough to show you their pictures.

Castile soap, by the way, is a lovely bath soap.