Watering my plants today I noticed some strange green blobs. Very small, and on the underside of leaves. APHIDS! Upon closer inspection, they were almost covering the stem of one of my cilantro plants (that has already made a miraculous recovery from being improperly transplanted). I have no idea how aphids got into an indoor garden when the windows are never open? Not a problem I thought I would run into with the grow table. So I got out the garden book....
|aphids on the cilantro|
Insect pests prefer sickly plants to healthy ones, attacking the easiest prey (which may explain why they went after the cilantro). Stressed plants can be caused by fluctuations in soil or air temperature, to little or too much water, not enough nutrients, compacted soil or wrong PH. In this way, pests are 'symptoms' of a larger problem - the health of the plants.
Other tips from the book include:
_rotating plants from one part of the garden to another after each crop cycle
_deterring pest with herbs and flowers that have powerful scents (onions, garlic and chives)
_avoid planting all of the same type of plant in the same area (this makes it easy for pests to find what they want)
_avoid pairings such as (corn + tomatoes, potatoes + tomatoes +peppers + eggplant, and cucumbers + squash+ melons +pumpkins) which the same pests are attracted to.
_introduce beneficial predators such as; ladybugs, assassin bugs, parasitic wasps
However, if all else fails, as Edward Smith says in his Bible, "There's no nice way to say it: The time has come for killing." This, of course, should be done in a way that doesn't kill the beneficial bugs if possible. There are several methods for this:
_Hand picking. Place them in a tin full of water and a little soap so they are sure to die. The best hunting time is early morning, the bugs are "logy and tend to fall right off the plants and into the water. I turned my plants over and rinsed the leaves completely, then hand picked any others I could see. I mean, they are green so I can't be sure :)
_Natural or other pesticides, "we can't get away from the fact that pesticides we apply to our crops are poisons, whether they come from a chemistry lab or, like phyrethrum, from a daisy. Some botanical pesticides appear to do their work with few drawbacks: Garlic spray and hot pepper wax repel pests; insecticidal soap and neem usually kill pests without injuring other life-forms.
So that's all well and good. However, my garden is inside, meaning many of the 'solutions' proposed here are not applicable. I don't have the option of introducing beneficial insects without running the risk of them taking over the house. I can't really rotate my crops as they are all in pots. And, really? How did I get aphids in the first place? One culprit may be the greens I bring home from the grocery store. I've taken to the habit of placing them in a vase of water on the grow table instead of refrigerating them to save space in the fridge.
After inspecting all my plants closely, it seems that none of the vegetables were affected except a hot pepper plants I got from the farmer's market this summer. The greens got hit hardest. This is strange because the greens and the cilantro are on opposite sides of the table, meaning the aphids somehow went over the vegetables and only chose to attack the greens. The greens are a problem because it isn't easy to just pick or wash the aphids off. It is a jungle in there. Because I planted them as 'microgreens' they are extremely close together and hard to pick through. I'm not sure what I think about the micro greens anyway because they aren't really growing the way I assumed they would. Maybe I am planting the wrong crops to use as micros, but the collards, arugula and romaine are still not really tasting that great and are still quite small. My single romaine plant that is almost 8" tall after 70 days of growing, and the small micro-romaines are only about 4", still not ready to eat.
I am going to quarantine the micro greens at this point and treat them with a soap mixture spray. If they don't get better, its not a huge loss, and think that growing the single plants might be a better option anyway....
It hasn't been all bad in the garden lately, however. I have a green bean which I planted in a 3 gallon pot (to see if planting in large pots helps growth immediately). It literally grow before my eyes after popping out of the soil just 2 days ago and is now close to 3 inches tall! I also have a tomato and onion sprout that are looking good so far...
|quarantined micro greens|
|single potted romaine after 70 days|
|weeds! another indoor garden problem I didn't think I would have|
|green bush been growth after only 2 days!|
|spinach micro greens after 30 days of growth|