Non-toxic aphid control

Two aphids hiding out in my rose bud

Two aphids hiding out in my rose bud

*UPDATE 30 April 2014* Well, I had read that oil can enhance sun damage on leaves, so to only apply at night.  I thought living in cloudy Scotland would preclude me from taking these precautions.  The good news is that the aphids were dead overnight.  The bad news is the oil solution damaged my rose, and heavily applied leaves fell off!  It’s not dead though, so the new growth is pretty aphid-free and with daily finger smashing, I’m keeping the bugs at bay.  So take the recipe and application recipe below with a grain of salt and spot check first before covering a beloved plant!***

After a month of Great Energy Racing, I finally have some more time to work in my garden.  But before I can get stuck into more planting, there are a few pests that need to be dealt with.  Today’s chore was treating my climbing rose that has been taken over by aphids and ants.  My children love to tell me that the mean and naughty ants are farming the aphids, and that the aphids are sucking the juices out of our lovely rose!  I think they have been reminding me for the past month or so as we have watched the aphids multiply ten fold whilst I have been busy with other draught-proofing and boiler tasks.

Two weeks ago, I did my annual ladybird larvae treatment to both the front containers and back garden, so hopefully somewhere there are ladybird pupae in the garden, ready to come out and continue eating my garden pests.  But the front containers are beyond the ladybird stage, and I’m quite sure that those evil ants have done away with my expensive larvae anyhow.

Ants be gone
So today the gloves came off.  I brought down a boiling kettle to flush out the ant nest.  As I type this, I am suddenly flushed with a bit of guilt… but not too much!  Since I couldn’t be bothered to move my pots away from the stair wall and see where the ants are coming from, I’m not at all sure that I even poured it in the best spots…  I also had some leftover polenta, so put a few piles of that out for the ants to take back to their nest.  I am really hoping that these little measures will make an impact.

Aphids be goneNext I turned to the aphids currently curling my rose and beloved flaming parrot tulip leaves.  I hate getting green aphid goo on my fingers, so I took some kitchen towels to wipe clean the tulip leaves and rose leaves as best I could.  The jagged edges of the rose leaves and stems don’t make it easy though, but it certainly cleared several thousand of the wee pests.  My 2-year old then had a field day spraying our plants all over with a solution of one part vegetable oil, two parts water, and a healthy squirt of dish soap.  It seemed a bit cruel to use a kiddie butterfly spray bottle to do this, but that’s the spray bottle we had to hand, so that’s what we used!  I’ll need to go down and reapply tomorrow evening and finger’s crossed it will do the trick so my rose bush can grow well and finally bloom this year!

My 2-year old ate three oranges this morning, so perhaps I’ll cut up the rind and sprinkle that around the base of the most impacted plants to repel the ants a bit further.  Or perhaps I’ll just make candied orange peels instead!  Hmmm, the joys of deciding what to do while waiting around the flat all day for the Worcester-Bosch repair guy to come and fix my BRAND NEW boiler!!  At least it’s under warranty for the next 8 years!