Greenies Like Us: Homemade Aphid Buster

And now for the original homesteader himself, the one, the only, Jerry Baker!

Is there anyone out there that doesn’t love his books? I mean, come on. The books are loaded with concoctions that you make with items you already have in your home. It keeps your garden pesticide-free and doesn’t cost a bundle. Now that’s what I like to hear! So why bring up Jerry Baker? This:

My tomatoes were first being nibbled on by tomato hornworms which I just handpicked (made a nice little treat for the chickens) but now this… aphids. And so late in the season too. Before I knew it, I had a real problem on my hands. The tomatoes were just starting to grow to size and ripen which was a real triumph since the plant survived an enemy attack early on. So I had to try my best to help it survive this one too.

It was clear something was sucking the life right out of it. A few worm holes here and there are one thing, but this had me throwing my arms up and acting a fool. (Wonder what the neighbors were thinking?) And I kicked myself because I should have planted garlic and marigolds right from the beginning. Garlic is especially wonderful for deterring a long list of bad bugs. Too bad.

So to fix the problem, I remembered the fab books above and a few things friends told me from long ago. I didn’t have to drive to the hardware store, I didn’t have to spend any money, I didn’t have to look under the kitchen sink. I simply grabbed the less-than-perfect, past-their-prime peppers, onions and garlic and brewed up a smelly bug buster spray. It’s partly based on Jerry Baker’s concoctions, partly based on what I’ve heard from other gardeners in the past, and partly based on what I know will work. And it does! Here’s the recipe:

Dee Dee’s Aphid Buster

4-5 large garlic cloves (or double that for smaller cloves), smashed
1-2 small hot peppers (seeds and all), cut open
about 1/4 of a small onion (separate the layers)
1 teaspoon dishwashing liquid

Smashing the garlic with the flat side of a knife and a quick slice to open the peppers is all you have to do – no chopping. You just want to help infuse the water. Put the garlic, peppers and onion into a pint-sized mason jar and fill it with water. Let it steep overnight. (Letting it steep two nights is even better.) Stir it once or twice. The next day, strain it and add the dishwashing liquid.

Tip: Save (used) cheesecloth or use a coffee filter on a mason jar for a quick and easy way to filter the water.

Pull a sprayer out of the recycle and fill ‘er up. Look out now! You’re armed and dangerous so go out and let them aphids have it! (Sorry, bad imitation of Jerry.) This will spot-treat one large or two small tomato plants. Treat the plant every other day until you think you’ve licked ’em. (It shouldn’t take more than a week.) The plant should be just fine but watch it carefully just in case it’s too weak to handle aphids and the buster. Add more water to the mix if so.

The plant looks like it’s bouncing back. It has a few leaves that turned dark (due to the peppers) but the overall health of the plant is up. You’ll be surprised at how well this works. I see a few spots where the aphids were able to hide from me, but they can’t hide forever. Yep, they’ll get busted all right!