Whether you call them whiteflies or greenfly, you should know how to remove aphids from kale before they destroy the entire plant.
Kale is a superfood packed with nutrients and vitamins, but it’s also attractive to aphids. They feed on the juice of kale leaves, leaving the plant yellowed, misshapen, and stunted. However, you don’t need to worry because they are easy to remove.
How to Identify Aphids
Aphids are soft-bodied insects that can weaken plants. Since they multiply quickly, you should get rid of them as soon as possible. After all, many generations of aphids can occur in a single season.
Aphids have a pear-shaped body and long antennae. They come in various colours, such as light green, white, grey, black, yellow, and pink. Some aphids have a woolly or waxy coating. They can feed in small numbers or large groups.
Aphids usually feed on various plants, but some species are specific to a particular plant. There are green aphids, cabbage aphids, and turnip aphids. Adults are usually wingless, but they can grow wings when the infested plant becomes too crowded.
Aphids can reproduce through parthenogenesis, where females give birth to a live female nymph. Aphids can happen during summer and spring when there’s an ample supply of food. The UK garden can accommodate large populations of aphids without any problem.
What Aphid Damage Looks Like
Aphids produce a sugary substance called honeydew. So if you see a sugary liquid on your kale plants, it’s a sign of aphid infestation. It can also encourage mould growth, which can create black spots on the leaves of the plant.
The black spots will prevent the leaves from absorbing sunlight and cause the plant to die eventually. Yellowed, stunted, misshapen, or curling leaves are common signs of aphid infestation as well. Aphids can also cause galls to develop on leaves or roots.
The honeydew can attract ants and other insects because it’s high in sugar. The ants gather the honeydew secretions for food. So, if you notice an increase in bugs or ant population in your UK garden, then it could be a sign of aphid infestation.
How to Remove Aphids from Kale
Spray kale plants with a strong gust of water from a regular UK garden hose. This method is particularly useful for mild aphid activity or eliminating soft-bodied aphids. Don’t forget to inspect the bottom and top of the leaves after spraying.
If this method doesn’t work, you can try the following tips instead:
Tip #1: Water and non-toxic dish soap
Mix a few drops of dish soap with water, and spray kale plants with the solution. The bitter residue will suffocate the aphids and repel other bugs. It will make the leaves taste bad for the aphids and prevent them from coming back.
Tip #2: Tomato leaf spray
Soak tomato leaves in water for one day. Remove the tomato leaves, and then transfer the leaf juice into a spray bottle. Spray the kale with the leaf juice. Tomato leaves have toxic alkaloids that are harmful to kale aphids.
Tip #3: Natural predators
One ladybug can eat fifty aphids daily. Ladybugs prey on aphids, so you should build an environment that they will move into naturally. Since they feed on pollen, you should plant crops and flowers that are attractive to ladybugs, such as daisy, marigold, dandelions, and cosmos.
Caraway, dill, chives, carrots, fennel, yarrow, feverfew, and mint are also attractive to ladybugs. Garlic sprays are harmful to ladybugs, so avoid spraying kale with them.
Tip #4: Grow kale indoors
You can grow kale indoors to avoid aphid infestations altogether. Kale needs about four hours of sun every day, or if this isn’t possible, you can use grow lights.
Why Should You Grow Your Kale Plants in a Greenhouse?
One of the most effective ways to prevent an aphid infestation is to grow your plants in a greenhouse. Other than that, here are a few more reasons why you should try polytunnel gardening:
Prevent pests from attacking your plants
As mentioned, greenhouses are highly beneficial in preventing pests and larger animals from attacking your plants. You even further protect your plants by adding screens and traps for insects and animals. If you get pest infestations inside your greenhouse, it’ll be easier for you to get rid of these pests.
Control over the growing environment of your plants
One of the primary benefits of greenhouses is that you can control the indoor growing environment, allowing you to grow different plants regardless of the weather. You can customise your polytunnel using heating and cooling systems, grow lights, fans, irrigation systems, and other equipment to suit the needs of your plants. As long as you understand the ideal growing conditions of your plants, you can adjust your polytunnel accordingly.
Protect your plants from bad weather conditions
A polytunnel shields your plants from bad UK weather conditions that could easily damage even the hardiest plants. You’ll be able to keep your plants safe from high winds, heavy rain, storms, flood, and more.
Final Thoughts on How to Remove Aphids from Kale
Hopefully, the tips stated here gave you some ideas on how to remove aphids from kale. Weeds also harbour pests, so you should keep your UK garden weed-free to prevent infestations.