Mandrake Pests & Aluminum Foil

Mandrake pots wrapped in aluminum foil

Aphids are foiled!

Mercury to the rescue! I noticed that my mandrake babies were looked a little down in the mouth, and an examination revealed a massive infestation of aphids and spider mites. Yes, it’s my fault–I’ve been ignoring them.

Washing off the leaves by holding the plant upside-down in a gentle spray of cool water once a day for three days in a row will get rid of spider mites, but aphids are a bit tougher. I decided to use aluminum foil both to keep the soil from falling out during washing the leaves and to repel the aphids. I’ve only heard about the aluminum foil and aphids things and never used it myself, using neem or AzoMax instead, but my plants were already stressed, so I didn’t want to add to that by spraying them with any pesticides, even if organic.

I checked to see if any evidence besides web pages copying each other existed for the aluminum foil against aphids thing, and found in fact a study about aluminum foil being used very successfully as a mulch to deter aphids on tomato plants (I didn’t even know that tomatoes could get aphids!). The article is pretty old (1975), which kind of shows how very different pest prevention was in the past, even only a few decades ago, before everything was pesticides and herbicides all the time.

Btw, for massive amounts of aluminum foil (which is handy for freezing food, btw, much better than plastic), try a restaurant supply place. I bought a 500′ roll of heavy-duty aluminum foil 12 years ago for $35 and still have tons left.

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