Your beautiful organic vegetable garden can seemingly become infested with aphids overnight. It’s best to use a home made, organic aphid control methods to keep your garden bug-free and healthy.
If you spot the pear-shaped gray or purple bugs gnawing on your plants, secreting a sweet honeydew liquid that covers leaves in sun-blocking ugly mold, you will want to utilize the following methods right away before the little buggers eat you out of house and home.
Turn It Up
Turn your garden hose up to a heavy spray and hose down those plants. You will knock a lot of the aphids off, and kill some of them in the process.
There are two great home made organic aphid control spray recipes that have been used by organic gardeners for generations. One utilizes the naturally occurring alkaloids in tomato leaves, which you probably already have in your garden! The other fights aphids with the sulfur found in garlic.
To make the tomato leaf spray, you will need two cups of organic tomato leaves, two cups of water, a fine strainer or cheesecloth, and a spray bottle. Finely chop the tomato leaves, and place them in the warm (not boiling) water. Let them steep overnight. Strain the mixture through the strainer. Add one more cup of water, then pour the solution into a spray bottle. Spray this organic aphid control on the plants daily until the aphid problem has been resolved.
The garlic spray has a few more ingredients, but is still simple to make and works really well. Add four cloves of diced garlic to two teaspoons of white mineral oil. Let the mixture soak over night or longer, then strain out the chunks. Add the garlic-infused mineral oil, and a squirt of eco-friendly dish soap, to three cups of water. This makes a concentrate. When you want to spray, add one tablespoon of the concentrate to three cups of water in a spray bottle.
These sprays can also be used as an organic aphid prevention method, prior to infestation. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of… fresh veggies!
Caution: When using the garlic spray, test a small area of the plant before going gung-ho on the whole garden. If you don’t see leaves yellowing in a day or two, it’s safe to use. Also be aware that, unlike the tomato leaf spray, garlic spray is not selective. It will kill all insects, including beneficial ones.
For long-term aphid control, one of the best methods is the introduction of aphid-eating insects to your garden, such as ladybugs, lacewings, praying mantis, and aphid-predators (yep, that’s the actual name). You can do this in several ways.
The first is by attraction. Mint, dill, dandelions, yarrow root and clover will all bring in the predatory, helpful insects if grown around the plants you want to protect.
The second is through purchase-power. You can actually buy ladybugs and praying mantis over the internet and at some garden centers. Release them in your garden, and voila! Aphid population controlled.
Another method of organic aphid control is detraction from your garden. Planting a separate garden full of the plants that aphids find irresistible- mums, hollyhock, begonia, dahlias and zinnias- will help draw the aphids away from your beans and lettuces.
Alternately, planting garlic and onions nearby the plants that you want protected will help drive the aphids away. Like little sap-sucking vampires, they don’t like the smell of garlic (or onions).
While there are many different commercially produced eco-friendly aphid sprays on the market, you can enjoy the bounty of your garden by using one or more of these simple methods for strong, organic aphid control.