Sunday, June 1, 2008

GOOD NEWS PART 1: Aphid Update

I've been having this problem with aphids, right? It was manageable while they were on the few leaves of the eggplant, peppers, and basil, but when they started moving to my three tomato plants - the sentinels of my garden - well, that's where I drew the line.

I've been growing completely organic this year, but I was willing to breach that gap when it came to the life and death of everything I've been nurturing for the past few months. I had already sprayed the plants with that garlic slurry I talked about earlier - pretty much useless. I was hoping that it would send them packing, but alas, my aphids seems to love it (and can you blame them? Garlic - YUM!).

So yesterday I headed to H.J. Benken Greenhouse, the local place that I love, with an air of defeat. I moped around at first, nosing around at their products, wondering how many chemicals I was going to end up polluting the garden with. Finally I just decided to ask someone's opinion. The employee who helped me was so very nice, and when I told him I was "trying" to go organic this year he immediately recommended me a spray product that is approved for organic use. It's called "Insect Killing Soap with Seaweed Extract" (generically enough). It's made by a company called Safer Brand.

I had heard that some people had luck just mixing dish soap with water and spraying, so I was willing to give this a try. I DOUSED all affected plants with this spray, which ended up taking about 1/3 of the bottle. We had a very warm, sunny, humid day yesterday, so I thought I'd just let things sit and check on them the next day. This morning the first thing I did was throw on some P.J.s and head out to the balcony, bed-head and all.
  • First stop: Eggplant (the original culprit)
    • CLEAN!
  • Second stop: Peppers
    • CLEAN!
  • Third: Basil
    • CLEAN! (but his tender leaves were burned a little bit - maybe the sun was not good mixed with the soap?)
  • Fourth and Final: Tomatoes
    • CLEAN!!!!
All that was left of my scourge was a bunch of flaky aphid husks. My apprehensions have vanished - I would DEFINITELY recommend this product to anyone seeking a safer, less toxic way of kicking some aphid ass.

My only caution going forward is to not use this product every day, as it does seem to burn some of the more tender leaves on a plant. The bottle recommends using every 5-7 days when insects are present.

For now, I know I'll sleep much better (and worry a lot less) knowing that I have a solution to turn to if they end up coming back. Half of the battle with anxiety and worrying is knowing that even if bad things do happen in the future, you have tools and the know-how to combat those things. Yes, scary and negative things will always happen to all of us, but if I know that I have the power to stop these things, then the dread and panic are much less likely to overtake me.

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