Shiny spots on foliage in your garden? Leaves crumpled on your apple trees? Sooty smears on leaf all over the garden? Well, this is proving to be a good year for aphids; there are still plenty of blackflies and greenflies around. During his workshop for the Stonehouse Gardening Club this June, Martyn Cracknell did, however, point out that white flecks on leaves may indicate an aphid colony, but the pests have left. The sooty mould is a fungus which eats the aphids.
Curled up leaves will not affect the health of a tree. Yet, blackfly or greenfly could kill our vulnerable kitchen garden plants. Looking sadly at the train wreck of my precious grafted aubergine plant, I can see why aubergines aren’t often grown in Britain. And no, soapy water will not destroy an aphid infestation. So what can gardeners do to protect plants from these voracious pests?
- Make sure the soapy water comes out in a strong jet, and that will help to remove some of the aphids.
- Use chemical sprays, although this is not advisable for kitchen garden plants, and should, in general, be a last resort. Read the label carefully so that you don’t buy a chemical spray that is harmful to more than flies and aphids.
- Cherish your ladybirds. Ladybird larvae may look like venomous little bugs, as they haven’t evolved into the beautiful creatures we know, but they are only harmful to aphids: they devour them.
- Protect your tender plant with a thin fleece cover. This will keep flies off, and aphids will not form. Prevention, therefore, seems to be the best cure.