“Aphids are…they’re just awful little creatures!” ~Howard Hughes
I have been pretty lucky this season with garden pests.
The slugs and snails haven’t been too bad, a few caterpillars have been squished before too much damage was done. Even the slaters have been behaving.
Indeed, the most destructive force in the veggie patch this season remain my very own spawn.
Aphids. In my Broad Beans.
I actually already have aphids in my lemon tree. But, I don’t really worry about them because the same tree gets covered in ladybirds that gobble them up before they affect the fruit.
But the aphids seems to be damaging the broad beans and are spreading. So at first, I just squirted them all off with the hose. I think that may have encouraged their spread because it appears I now have a bit of an infestation.
Usually, it would be cue: pesticide.
But as you can see, the bees also love the broad bean blooms. I don’t want to kill them. Or use chemicals that end up god-only-knows-where.
So I Googled “home aphid cures”.
Three solutions popped up, with many variations of each. Soap and water spray. Chilli and Garlic spray. Lemon and oil spray.
Hedging my bets, I combined the lot to create a bee and human friendly aphid annihilator.
I mixed the zest of three lemons, two heads of garlic, and a couple of tablespoons of chilli flakes into my enamel crock with about 4 litres of water. I put the lid on and bought it to the simmer for 10 minutes.
Still, with the lid on, I let the whole mix steep until cool. I then strained off all the lemon, chilli and garlic, resulting in a sediment free “tea”.
I stirred in about 250ml oil and 250ml dishwashing detergent to the mix and gave it all a good mix. All up, it made just over 4 litres worth.
I then decanted the deadly aphid solution into 3 atomisers and sent the kids on a mission.
Shoot and kill the aphids.
They did a very good job, completely coating the affected plants. My youngest whiffed suspiciously of garlic afterwards, probably because he couldn’t resist sampling the mix. But, it aside from tasting awful, it didn’t do him any harm and probably protected him from vampires for a day or two.
The spray was applied on Sunday. Today, after a week of rainy weather, it’s Friday. The aphids are not completely gone, but they are much reduced and don’t appear to have spread to the rest of the patch. Tomorrow, it will be sunny, so we will repeat the process to keep them in check. As soon as the ladybirds begin to populate my lemon tree again, I will gather some to deliver to the Broad Beans, hopefully that will help too.
I will also plant more Calendulas and Nasturtiums this season as a trap crop for the nasty little blighters.
Have you had any luck with home made aphid annihilators? What can you recommend?
I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below!