Over the last few years of growing chillies by far the most common pest my plants have faced have been aphids. Over the last few years I’ve posted about how to treat an aphid infestation so this year i thought it was about time i was a bit more proactive and attempted to take preventative measure rather than reactive ones!
Having done a bit of research I’ve put together a little plan to help avoid having issues with aphids this year.
1. Keep growing area open
In the past I’ve grown most of my plants indoors either in the house or in a conservatory. I found that once i got an aphid infestation in such an environment it was very hard to get rid of. The main reason being that the aphids natural predators (bugs such as lady birds and hover flies) don’t have access to the plants when inside.
Obviously if the weather allows I’ll aim to keep as many plants as possible outside in the fresh air. That said as our Great British summer offers us spells of high winds and or colder temperatures I’ll inevitably have to move a portion of the plants indoors.
To combat the indoor infestations I’ll try and leave as many of the windows open in the chilli house in order to allow the predates equal access to the plants as the aphids. Luckily the conservatory I grow most of my plants in has many windows that can open fully.
2. Plant some marigolds
French marigolds are well known for their ability to help control aphids. Firstly they attract natural predators such as hover flies which will help avoid any infestations setting in. Secondly they are said to give off a chemical that acts as a natural repellent for the aphids.
These brightly colored flowers are usually readily available as plugs or small plants in most garden centers however to keep costs down and get as many marigolds as possible I’ve decided to grow my own from seed this year.
image by brangal
Marigolds are fairly straight forward to grow – just sow the seeds in fine moist compost and keep them at about 18 degrees until they germinate. Once they reach 5-10 cm tall prick them out and pot into individual pots, window boxes or borders. As will most plants it is well worth taking a couple of weeks to harden the plants off before moving them outside or into a cold greenhouse.
3. Lady Bird Nests
Another easy method to attract ladybirds (which love to feast on aphids) is to put up some ladybird nest boxes in the garden. The way i see it the more lady birds i can attract, the less chance of my having any issues with aphids.
The proof of the pudding was last summer when i spent about 20 minutes watching the ladybird above demolish an infestation of aphids on one of my plants.
4. Sacrificial Planting
Another method I’m considering is using some sacrificial planting. This involves planting some plants nearby that aphids love, the idea being they’ll head there as opposed to onto my chillies. This seems a bit counter intuitive as there is always the risk they’ll head over to my chilli plants as they breed and infest the sacrificial plants.