I was alarmed to find aphid honeydew (aka aphid secretions) on my spinach last week. These little creepy crawlies send me into fits. Last year, they did a number on my okra, devouring it into oblivion. It seems that an enclosed raised bed like mine is great for keeping big bugs, slugs, and animals out, but the little aphid mafia still seem to be getting inside. Not only that, the enclosure hinders benificial insects from coming in to eat them. I was able to hold off the aphids temporarily last year by blasting them with water, but that didn’t help for long. I even tried buying and releasing ladybugs in my garden enclosure, but in spite of following all the rules on the package to welcome the little spotted darlings, they quickly flew the coup, and then couldn’t get back in even if they tried (which they didn’t.)
So when I saw the aphids’ calling card this year, I decided I would have to work out some other alternatives to water blasting and ladybug coercion. After a good deal of internet research, here are the non-chemical methods I’m putting into practice this year:
- Vinegar Spray
There are several different homemade sprays that can be concocted to combat aphids, including a garlic oil/soap spray (something I will consider making, but I’m holding off as I don’t like the smell of garlic,) tomato leaf spray (which I’m definitely trying once my tomatoes are mature this summer,) and what I’m currently using – vinegar diluted in water. I’m using this sparingly, since some sites say this works like a charm, and others say it’s a great herbicide (not exactly what I’m going for.) So, if you decide to use the vinegar spray, test it out in a small spot first and wait a day or so to make sure your plant tolerates it OK.
- Banana Peel
Aphids hate bananas! Who knew? If you finely chop a banana peel and then plant the peel around the base of the affected plant, the aphids will get the hint and go away. When I read this, I quickly ran to the kitchen, enjoyed a little banana snack and started choppin’ and plantin’.
- Vinegar Spray
- Aluminum Foil
If you’ve ever made battle with the aphid, you know that they love to hide out on the underside of leaves. If you place foil around the base of your plant, it will bounce sunlight off the foil and onto the underside of the leaf, blinding the little suckers. Yeeha!
- Aluminum Foil
- Yellow Plastic Bowls??
That’s right folks, aphids looove the color yellow. apparently, if you place a yellow plastic bowl filled 1/3 with water, the little boogers will spot the bowl, crawl over, and jump into the swimming pool of death and drown. Bwahahahaha!
- Plant a Sacrificial Plant
If you have had a particular veggie or flower drained of its life force by aphids before, chances are it will again. Consider including a plant you know aphids love the best a little ways away from your other plants in the hopes that the aphids will choose that plant or flower over the others. It’s a risky operation, but apparently it works. So if you’re OK with one of your babies taking one for the team, it may be worth a try. I have planted two ranunculus flowers near my spinach in the hopes that they will sing their siren song to the aphids. We’ll see if it works.
So I’ve decided to throw scientific method out the window and try all 5 of these methods at once in my garden. Sure, I’ll never really know which method worked the best, but I felt I should come out with guns blazing.
Here are some of my sources from my research:
Organic Aphid Sprays – Two Homemade Sprays For Fighting Aphids
9 Extraordinary Uses For Bananas
Natural Aphid Pesticides: 10 Eco-Friendly Ways to Repel Aphids
What are your favorite methods for combating these dastardly critters? I’m always game to try out more ideas! 🙂