Early Morning Aphiding
Yep- It is Saturday morning, baby is asleep and I want to use my alone time to take care of some serious business in the greenhouse. No yoga today, or dishes or web surfing, no, just a strong cup of coffee, my bare hands and keen eye are at work. You see, since it is getting warmer by the day in the greenhouse, it is encouraging more than plant growth. The aphids have come back, strong, I am the only force working against them. Because it never freezes in the greenhouse, they have a safe place to pass the winter, cozy, waiting, for a fresh succulent greens. They have no predators, no lady bugs, nothing balancing them out, but me. We want the same thing, me and the aphids, but sharing is the ideal, I simply won’t allow then to eat more than their share and with new seedlings getting started everyday, I really need to cut down the population pronto so they don’t threaten my babies.
I have tried and few things I thought I would share in case anyone else is attempting to co-exsist with these little buggers too.
The CLASSIC SOAP SPRAY—1 TBSP Dr. Bronners Peppermint in 24oz water in a spray bottle works—I just spray it on and because these guys are soft-bodied, the soap clogs their pores and they die.
The TOBACCO RED CHILE SPRAY (Make a tea out of a large pinch of rolling tobacco and 2 TBSP Red Chile Powder, 1 cup boiling water and let sit for a day…. strain through cheese cloth and dilute with water in a 24oz spray bottle)…works too
But remember, as I try to, “works” is a relative term. These concotions really only “work” if you are constantly spraying, YES DAILY, and EVERWHERE, every little nook and cranny. Aphids are tiny and love new succulent leaves, undersides and hard to get to places. The reproduce like crazy and when you are not looking. They often are gray and look kind of fuzzy, like on Purple Kale, but they are also golden, and very light green, like when on Chard. I am not sure why, but they seem to blend with what they are living on, smart little guys.
If you are diligent, sprays do “work” and even better if you simply crush them with your fingers as you go, gross yes, but you get used to it, maybe even like it, dare I admit. “power washing” as I like to call it, or simply spraying the heck out of them with a hose so they fall off the leaves, seems to work quite well to cut down populations, but not a long term solution in my experience, they have to end up somewhere, right? and mostly they just fall to the ground and find their way up again eventually.
I have noticed a few other APHID HABITS that you might want to take note of if you too are on patrol.
Aphids seem to hit the leaves closest to the soil the hardest. The Kale that has been harvested throughout the winter from the ground up is barely suffering, whereas the low growing Spinach is totally infested. Also, Collard Greens got hit the hardest and Chard the least. So I harvested every Collard plant entirely, root to shoot, ate the leaves (after triple washing) for dinner and threw the rest of the plant out into the cold. In technical terms this would be considered a “Trap Crop”, trapping the guys on their favorite food, then whisking them away to another land.
Freezing will kill the aphids, if it had been summer I would have just thrown them in the garbage or bonfire better yet!!
There was a Chard, though my most resilient crop, that was covered with aphids at the end of the row, where it is the driest and gets the least sun, hence it was weak and susceptible to take over. I dug the whole thing up and just planted it outside. I put a glass jar/cloche over it. It feels like spring, maybe the Chard will survive and the aphids will die—wishful thinking but I will keep you posted.
So in short, soap spray, tobacco/chile spray, any spray …and daily diligence will decrease aphids populations. Growing greens hardy enough to take daily pinching is a good thing too. Sorry Liana, Lettuce is just too tender to pinch, it may be a wash…….But I must tell you from years of experience, all this pinching and spraying, if you are out numbered, which will happen fast………I fear the only long term solution maybe freezing your greenhouse entirely for a couple of weeks, maybe not this year, but someday you and I will be ready to let a cold season go by un-grown. Good luck, and remember you are not alone in the battle, keep on!