Garden Tricks: Best way to Protect Brussels Sprouts from Aphids.
The only way to manage to get to harvest season with your crops is to keep them away from the deer, various other critters, the hail, the drought and if they survive all of that, the bugs. Brussels Sprouts are particularly difficult to keep from the aphids. With all the little leaves and crevices on the sprouts, there are an infinite number of areas for aphids to hide from insect sprays, predators and you. For years, we tried all kinds of sprays, dusting powders and protective covers. The protective covers worked against the aphids, but they also shaded the brussels too much and they needed much more sun in order to mature.
Finally we arrived at this concoction; which keeps aphids off the part of the brussels you eat (the tender young sprouts) but lets the rest of the plant have all the sun it craves. For the last 5 years, our brussels have donned ladies knee-hi stockings throughout the summer. It wasn’t much of a fashion statement, but it worked like a charm.
Buy the cheapest, lightest-colored nylon knee-high stockings you can find at Walmart or Kmart. White stocking work the best, but if you can’t find those, nude color is good. White will reflect the most sun and heat of course, and you want to keep your produce cool. If you can find the ones that come ten to a package, they are the most economical.
Cut the toe end off the stockings, place it over the stalk of the plant before they get too large. You can tie the ends to the stalk with string or twist ties, or, I twisted the ends tight and clamped them in this picture. Whatever you use, just make sure it is tight enough at both ends to prevent the aphids, or anything else, from crawling up inside the stocking and having a feast while you least suspect it.
This trick holds up all year under any conditions. You don’t have to keep applying insect sprays all summer long, the stockings are reusable from year to year, and we have yet to find anything that works better. For so many years, we waited in anticipation for our brussels harvest – because I love brussels and nothing in the supermarket tastes as good as homegrown – but every year, until this trick, we had to throw all our brussels away because they were coated with aphids. Sure, we would soak them in water to try and get the aphids off, but there were always plenty of them in between the tiny leaves of the sprouts and I just couldn’t get passed the idea in my head of eating them. Now….it’s not a problem.
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