Gardeners' Soap

Not all of the soap I make gets sold at The Hell’s Kitchen Community Garden’s Annual Perennial. I keep a private stash of my favorites, give some away to my friends and I always make a batch of Gardeners’ Soap that we all use—except for Natasha who doesn’t trust soap that’s not made in a factory—to clean up with after weeding and planting.

The recipe for my Gardeners’ Soap will be included in Deathbed of Roses, but I’ll let you in on a secret ingredient: beer.

Using beer instead of water with the lye makes for serious lather—even when washing with cold water out of the hose. And I must credit Maggie for saving the keg dregs at Fitzgerald’s for me. No sense in using perfectly good beer.

There’s also a large amount of coconut oil for cleaning power and olive oil infused with calendula to soothe dry skin and help heal minor cuts and abrasions.

This year, I changed the design a bit and layered it up. Each layer represents an element of the garden. 

The bottom layer is soil and made brown with cocoa powder. The green middle is for the plants. I used some powdered lemongrass, a little French green clay for the color and added some embeds for contrast. I didn't want fussy flowers. This is a working soap. The top layer is the sun. Yellow from olive oil infused with annatto seed, but subdued with a brown tint from the beer. I also added a generous amount of cornmeal for scrubbing.  

It has a super fresh outdoor fragrance from a blend of citronella, rosemary, red thyme, orange, cedarwood, holy basil and ravensara essential oils.

Natasha doesn't know what she's missing by not using it. Then again, Natasha doesn't really get dirty in the garden since her husband, Roman does all the work.


  1. Ooooh, love your gardener's soap! It looks and sounds amazing! Beer is indeed awesome in soap. 😊

    1. Thanks, SoapJam. I think from now on, I'm always going to include a 'sugar' in my lye water--like beer, wine or even fruit juice. It make a real difference in the lather.


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