Go Organic: Vigilance the key to controlling aphidsBy James Ashford
June 03, 2011
We had a little drop of rain over the Whitsun weekend but not really enough for the vegetables.
What it will do is get the weeds growing and encourage aphids.
Neither is too much of a problem in small numbers but left unchecked both can spiral out of control.
Weeds are nature’s great survivors and will outgrow just about anything you actually want.
They compete for space, light and water and will thrive at the expense of your precious plants.
A little diligence every couple of days will keep on top of the problem – but leave it alone for a week or two and a small job rapidly becomes a really big one.
Aphids too do little real damage in small numbers, but these marvels of natural engineering are breeding machines and when conditions are right their numbers will rapidly spiral out of control.
The trick is to keep an eye out for infestation and deal with it promptly.
Aphids often cause leaves to curl in on themselves, providing shelter as well as nourishment for the tiny pests, so have a poke about and check the undersides of leaves for early colonists.
Blackfly can be a real problem on broad beans. If numbers get really high they will attack the young pods, causing them to shrivel and die.
Watch out for ants investigating the bean plants, because blackfly are sure to follow.
The ants actually farm the blackfly and will move their herds from plant to plant.
Aphids are easy to dispatch if you catch them early: just squish them with your thumb. If a leaf is badly affected, nip it off and throw it on the compost.
They can be sprayed off more robust plants such as roses with plain water through a hose.
If things have got really bad you may need to resort to insecticidal soap. This drowns the little blighters but you have to be careful not to spray beneficial insects such as ladybirds while you’re at it.
Encouraging small birds to visit your garden also helps to keep aphids under control. Their sharp eyes and sharper beaks will help keep numbers in check.