When you grow your own vegetables, you benefit from their nutritional value, from the money you save at the grocery store, from learning about how nature works and from the satisfaction of living a “greener” lifestyle. But some veggies are delectable to insects as well, and aphids are a common problem for many, such as the cabbage family of plants. Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects that can be green, yellow, brown, red or black, and their mouth is designed to pierce plant stems. This insect sucks the liquid from your plants, often resulting in their untimely death. If you begin to see ants on your plants, that’s your first clue that you could have an aphid invasion in the works.
Control ants, which bring and tend to aphids on plants, by sprinkling baby powder, black pepper and/or cinnamon around your garden bed that is experiencing the problem.
Wash the aphids off your plants’ leaves with a sharp stream of water. Repeat daily until you see a reduction in the numbers of aphids.
Spray plants with insecticidal soap. This product is sold at nurseries in ready-to-use sprays or in concentrated formulas that you mix with water.
Introduce beneficial insects to your garden. Ladybugs like to eat aphids, and other insects such as lacewings also dine on them and other detrimental insects. Some plants, such as dill, naturally attract good insects. But to encourage beneficial insects, you must discontinue using pesticides.
Remove weeds such as mustard that might be growing near your vegetable garden, because they can harbor a population of aphids, which will move into your garden when they discover your delectable veggies.
Prune off leaves and branches that contain aphids. Burn this foliage or bag it for transport to your refuse disposal site.
Protect young plants with floating row covers or in a greenhouse until they are larger and better able to survive an aphid attack.
Things You Will Need
- Baby powder
- Black pepper
- Hose with sharp stream nozzle
- Insecticidal soap
- Spray bottle
- If you catch an aphid invasion early, your chances of controlling this insect will be improved.
- Complete eradication of aphids is rarely possible, but if you keep the population down, your plants will stand a better chance of survival.
- If you have aphids, thoroughly wash your veggies before you eat them.
- If you use a sharp stream of water to knock aphids off your plants, do it early in the morning, which lets plants dry in the sun and makes them less likely to contract fungal diseases.
- Using high-nitrogen fertilizers can make your vegetables even tastier to aphids. Select fertilizers that have a smaller ratio of nitrogen (for example, choose a 5-10-10 fertilizer). Try using an organic fertilizer that is urea-based and designed to be time-released.