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Re: Question about natural control of aphids

  • Subject: Re: [cg] Question about natural control of aphids
  • From: "Deborah Mills" deborah@greencure.org
  • Date: Tue, 29 Oct 2002 08:32:23 -0800

Dear Paul,
My first question to you is when did you plant your winter greens? Where they transplants or from seed? In Ventura (down the coast a bit) we don't plant them until October (from seed). If they are transplants, usually they don't go into the ground until late November.
This year we have had some strange weather with it finally cooling off just a couple of weeks ago. Since greens like cool weather, the heat could have had something to do with it. This illustrates the point of planting at the right time of year and being aware that we may have to tweak our planting schedule accordingly due to Mother Nature. As gardener's we always want to push the envelope a little. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Usually it is the later of the two.
You are taking the right steps by utilizing a mild soap solution (Dr. Brommers is excellent for this). My recommendation is to have as much plant diversity as possible to attract the beneficial insects to your garden in the future. If the soap solution doesn't seem to help (or the thinning of plants which was recommended by another) it may be too late. Replanting is still a very feasible option if the infestation is totally out of control.
Good Luck

We have a small organic community garden plot in Berkeley, California. Lately we have been experiencing ever-increasing numbers of aphids which are doing considerable damage to our winter greens. We've tried spraying them off with a high-pressure nozzle, hand-picking them, and just recently, applying a mild soap solution. Can anyone recommend any other successful strategies for dealing with these critters, or ways of maintaining our plot that will make it less desirable for them to inhabit?
Thank you!
Paul  Revier
Aphids seem to be attracted to stress of one kind or another.  In community gardens where space is limited, stress is often from over-crowding. If spacing is the problem, it can often be overcome by removing/thinning every other plant or even more. Over-watering, under-watering, and soil deficiency are other stress inducers, but overcrowding is the most common in a community garden.  Remove the stress and the aphids will usually disappear.  When   planting winter greens put yourself in the seed's shoes.  How large do you want to be when you grow up?  Give the seed enough space to become all that it can be and it usually will.  When the plant is growing whenever the leaves touch the neighbor plant's leaves, try removing the neighbor plant.  Roots don't like to intrude on another plants root zone...very stressful for a brassica. 
Add a good amount of compost and/or a brown/green mulch around all the plants. The mulch will retain moisture and will feed plants when decomposed.  Add mulch layers regularly.
Wishing you bountiful cabbages,
Jon Rowley
Interbay P-Patch

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