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A local garden story - Aphids

With the warm weather, plants are not the only living organism to start gearing up for the year ahead. Now is the time to put on your reading glasses and go out and look closely at the succulent tips of all your plants. Of course, if your eyesight is still perfect you can dispense with the glasses but it was while wearing my glasses in the kitchen today that I looked out of the window and saw that aphids had taken up residence on the sage growing in a pot outside. 


To remove aphids organically, the first stage is to simply rub them off with your fingers whilst taking care not to crush the young succulent growth. If they persist, they can be squirted off with a jet of water from a hose. Any that linger after that can be sprayed with a very weak solution of washing up liquid which will block the breathing tubes along the aphids' abdomen. The first time I tried this method I made it too strong, which damaged the foliage. Less is definitely more with this method.


It is also worth noting that aphids spread viruses and diseases, and that a heavy infestation can weaken a plant. It was after one of the cold winters around 2010 that I suddenly realised that my Black Lace Elderberry was absolutely infested with aphids which were exactly the same colour as the dark purple-black stems. The cold weather meant I hadn't been inclined to potter about in the garden, so they had built up before I had even realised. 


To make matters worse, I thought that if I simply left them alone, ladybirds would naturally predate them and the problem would resolve itself. However, the cold weather meant that it was months before the ladybird population built up to eat them. That year, all the shoots on my elderberry were half the length that they usually grow to, and I realised that sometimes as gardeners we have to give nature a helping hand. Don't let inclement weather or poor eyesight put you off tackling routine maintenance!"

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