While I enjoy my garden very much, and love the satisfaction of growing my own vegetables and eating them freshly harvested, I’m not such a fan of the bugs that seem to enjoy them as well.
I don’t like to use commercial sprays, preferring to keep toxic chemicals out of the foods I intend to eat. To know if a commercial organic product is truly so, check whether it has a withholding period. This is a time after you spray with it that you should not consume the food. If I find a withholding period, then I avoid it.
Unfortunately, things have gotten out of hand in my garden, and the aphids have taken over completely!
I tried companion planting. The huge potted spearmint plant and the coriander were moved over to the vegetable patch. “Trap crops” draw harmful insects away from the plants you are trying to grow. Nasturtiums can be used as a trap crop for aphids.
I tried prevention. I scoured the plants for bugs and picked them off before they got too big or caused too much damage. Apparently one aphid can product up to 80 new aphids in a week. So missing one is costly.
I tried the completely natural way and made up a spray of dishwashing liquid and washed them off with that. Apparently the soap causes the aphids to dehydrate and die. While this killed off a few of them, it was a time consuming task, which needed to be repeated every couple of days to be effective.
Another natural insecticide recipe I found was one using cayenne pepper and garlic. Boil 5 cloves of garlic and a teaspoon of cayenne pepper in a litre of water for 40 minutes. Strain it and when it is cool use it in a mister bottle to spray onto your plant. It certainly repelled the family while I was boiling it up!
In the end, thanks to a friend, I found a natural spray using tomato leaves. Tomato plants, as members of the nightshade family, contain toxic compounds called alkaloids in their leaves. When the leaves of tomato plants are chopped, they release their alkaloids. When the alkaloids are suspended and diluted with water, they make an easy to use spray that is toxic to aphids, but still safe around plants and humans, although some people are allergic to members of the nightshade family. If you are one of them, use care in making and applying this spray.
To make tomato leaf spray, simply soak one to two cups of chopped tomato leaves in two cups of water. Let it steep overnight. To make the spray, strain the leaves out of the liquid using cheesecloth or a fine strainer. Add another one to two cups of water to the liquid and add it to a spray bottle.
To use the tomato leaf spray in your battle against aphids, spray the stems and foliage of the infested plant with the spray, paying special attention to the undersides of leaves.