In the Garden

I turn my back for one second…

…and aphids attack! Unfortunately, the downside of my Grow Camp is that tiny bugs can get in, but bigger bugs (some of whom are quite beneficial) can not. I went out to check on my crazy eggplants last week (I say crazy because they are all foliage and no actual eggplants – perhaps from all the rain we have gotten) and lo and behold, aphids had taken hold and taken over my eggplant leaves. Seems I should have been a little more vigilant with my banana peels.

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I decided to open the screen on the eggplants’ side of the Grow Camp and let the chips fall where they may in the hopes that some beneficial insects might find their way to my plants. If the deer found them too, well, so be it. Thankfully, by the next day, these guys showed up:

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Hello, darlings! I have a lovely buffet all set out for you! Did you know ladybugs can eat upwards of 50-60 aphids a day? Even more if they are babies. Eat up, my friends! While you are here, can you convince my eggplants to bear fruit?

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In other news, check out my tomato jungle! They were late because of the weird weather, but now we are getting maters-a-plenty!

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Green beans are doing great, too!

Featured, In the Garden

5 Ways to Say, “Get Lost, Aphids!”

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:

Aphid Spray

    1. 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.
    2. Banana Peel
      Banana Peel to repel aphids
      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’.

Foil Blinds Aphids

    1. 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!

Yellow Plastic Bowls lure aphids

  1. 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!
  2. 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
Controlling Aphids

Here’s another great resource to visit:
Epic Gardening – Annoying Aphids: All About Aphididae And How To Get Rid of Them

What are your favorite methods for combating these dastardly critters? I’m always game to try out more ideas! 🙂