Aphids

Sometime last week I noticed we had an aphid problem on the brussel sprouts. At first I couldn’t tell what the dusty white growths were, but after seeing the photos blown up on a computer screen it became pretty obvious.

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My first thought was a soap spray. The Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening lent to us by Jan said only that the soap had to be soap, not detergent, because the fatty acid/lipid base was what was harmful to the soft-bodied insects (like aphids). Aparently the soap spray paralyzes them.

I tracked down a spray bottle in the kitchen (interestingly we didn’t have any soap- it was all disinfectant and detergent) and ran home to the apartment for some Palmolive. I wasn’t sure if it was the best kind of soap to use but it was what we had available.

My google searches on soap spray for aphids warned me not to do in in full sun, on plants that were heat or water stressed, or on young leaves. Soap can burn or stress the leaves. Leaves that are smooth and waxy are more resistant to damage that soft or hairy leaves. One site recommended I do a spot test, spray a leaf and wait 48 hours to look for damage. The spray bottle had an intended purpose in the kitchen besides aphid spray, and had to be returned that day, so I put in about half a teaspoon of dishsoap in a quart sized waterbottle and sprayed down the kale, brussel sprouts, and purple cabbage, all the plants that had aphids on them.

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Today Sara (who has recently returned from a sustainibility conference) and I went out to check the garden and found that the drip had been turned on by some unknown individual with a waterkey and left on all night, and that the purple cabbage had suffered burns from the soap treatment. Oops.

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We rinsed the leaves well with a watercan, and I’m considering trying a tomato leaf or garlic oil spray on the purple cabbage. It will be a few days before we can tell if the soap spray is effective on the other plants. One source indicated that they should be sprayed every three days or so, so I’ll report back with results next week.

(P.S., We’re going to the Farmer’s Market for the first time tomorrow!)

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1 Response so far »

  1. 1

    Jenna said,

    Kalee- it is really neat to see the progress of your garden 🙂

    I have been attemping my own little organic garden ( organic mostly because it is too small and I am too lazy to apply chemical stuff) full of beans, carrots, beats, and spinach. I can’t wait to eat stuff from yours next year in the cafe


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