Banishing pests from the greenhouse

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GREENHOUSES provide the ideal environment for tender plants – unfortunately, that goes for pests as well.

It’s amazing how quickly aphids can take over. After two nights away, I came back to discover clusters of the little blighters on some of the peppers, aubergines and tomatoes.

How do you deal with them? You can take the organic approach and brush them off with something soft (so you don’t damage the leaves or embryo fruits).

If you have a bigger infestation, add some true soap or oil to water (one tablespoon per gallon) and spray top and bottom sides of the leaves.

These concoctions block the aphids’ breathing mechanisms. However, there is some debate about using detergent – avoid this.

If you have the time and inclination, collect ladybirds from the garden. They’re the aphids’ natural predators and will make short work of a moderate amount. You can buy lacewings from several companies on the internet – but at about £20 a go.

One method that I have used inside and out with some success is using susceptible plants as “bait”, keeping them away from your tomatoes.

Aphids flock to basil and nasturtiums – unfortunately, they love peppers and aubergines too.

They also hate garlic – you can make a spray with several crushed cloves left to sit in a quart of water for several days, then spray the plants with it.

And here’s a random method I found on the net.

Put aluminium foil around the base of the plant – it’s supposed to disorientate the insects, making it easier for predators (or you) to pick them off.

Remember, aphids can reproduce asexually and with frightening speed, and carry harmful plant viruses, so you must keep an eye out, otherwise all your hard work will be undone.

Plants of the week

ONE plant that’s not bothered by greenfly is my Easter flowering cactus.

It never bothers to flower when it’s supposed to, and hasn’t for the last 35 years (it originally belonged to my gran).

Its fabulous red blossoms certainly brighten up the conservatory!

HERE’S a lovely combination - ornamental onions (alliums), smaller cousins chives and viola in full bloom. Easy to look after and those viola will seed themselves.