Broccoli & Aphids

I’ve had several questions come to our Nichols Garden Nursery website asking what to do about aphids on broccoli, kale and other cole crops. The critters gather in the crevices and are not always removed with a stream of water. Insecticidal soap prepared according to the recipe on thecontainer works for plants growing in the garden. Use a hand sprayer and try to get those hidden spots.

However, many gardener/cooks encounter multiple clusters of aphids when they’re ready to prepare a meal. When this happens to me, as it did this evening, I give the broccoli a good rinse and trim it. I then prepare a deep pan of warm water and pour in salt (about one rounded tablespoon per quart and drop in my prepared vegetables. Let this sit for a few minutes and the aphids will release. I swished it around and scooped my purple sprouting broccoli into a colander, rinsed with tap water. The pan with saltwater was emptied and filled it with fresh cool water and I transferred the broccoli to it. Yup, there in the pan were some aphids. Again, I rinsed in the colander and repeated one more time in fresh cool water for aphid free broccoli.

If you’re going to be a gardener and not use heavy duty insecticides you will likely see a few insects. It’s part of nature and we are all participants, including the birds and beneficial insects that eat aphids. Freshly harvested delicious food is worth the nuisance and this is actually an easy solution.

3 Responses

  1. Ever tried the lady bug method? I’ve considered getting a bad of them and releasing them into my garden, but they only come in quantities of about 1,500 and I’m afraid of infesting my entire block with the little red guys.

  2. Ladybugs will do the job. When you get your order you will receive larvae not the red bugs. The larvae are voracious eating up to 300 aphids a day, the mature red bugs eat considerably less. Beneficials are key to garden pest control but don’t expect them to eat every aphid. They tend to move on to other pests and leave a few aphids behind to reproduce for another round of meals. That’s ok because control creates a natural balance eradication does not.

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