The last couple of years I have had to deal with uncountable numbers of aphids in my garden. The aphids especially like my kale plants. There is not much worse than taking a big bite of a kale salad only to realize that the kale leaves were covered in unwanted and uninvited little garden pests, aphids.
So, in search of organic ways to deal with these little pests, I have discovered a few helpful solutions. The first is to buy ladybugs from your local garden supply store or nursery. Ladybugs, especially baby ones, feed on aphids. They do a pretty good job at keeping the aphid population in my garden at bay. This year I did not buy more ladybugs because I was hoping the batch I had from last year would carry over. I did have a healthy number of ladybugs in the spring but I think that the dry weather ended up driving the ladybugs away. The result was that my kale became infested with aphids.
I continued to search for more organic options. I discovered a very effective aphid killer made from simple ingredients that you probably have in your garden and your kitchen. The solution I put together was comprised of tomato leaf juice and a little bit of dish soap. I soaked a couple handfuls of chopped up tomato leaves in a glass bowl of water overnight.
Then, in the morning, I strained the tomato leaves out of the solution which now looked like tea. I found out that tomatoes contain alkaloids that are released when the leaves are chopped up and soaked. These alkaloids are toxic to aphids. I mixed in a couple teaspoons of dish soap to my 4 cup aphid spray solution and tried it out.
I was pleasantly surprised by the results. After spraying the solution on the kale plants and leaving it for 4-6 hours, I rechecked the plants. The aphids were all shriveled up and could be cleaned off with a sprayer on a garden hose. I found this aphid killing solution at this website: Sprays for Aphids. This site lists a second recipe that includes garlic cloves and mineral oil. I can’t speak for its effectiveness but it might be another solution worth a try.
Good luck ridding your garden of the pesky little aphids that ruin good salads :).