Sucking Aphids

Since I’m sending this blog out into the world, I’m trying not to use any expletives.  But I swear the %^€€<|{}!* garden pests just seem to pull the curse words out of my mouth.  By the time pests arrive, I’ve gotten blisters from hand digging my beds, spent hours on my knees plucking out the thousands of violet and other weed seedlings, carefully researched seeds and garden plans, lugged gallons of water to gently hand-sprinkle my fragile seedlings, and just generally spent my  blood, sweat and tears on my little plot.  And those little {deleted} steal my seeds, chew the tops off my seedlings, and ruin my produce.

Now, I could douse my plants and soil with chemical insecticides.  The garden aisles at the hardware stores have enough to make a mushroom cloud of poison big enough to annihilate every bug in the Greater Hendersonville area.  But do I really want to feed that to my family?  And what about the bees and butterflies I need to pollinate my crops?  And what about the earthworms that fertilize and loosen my soil?  So I find other ways to get rid of the baddies, while welcoming the goodies.  There’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of watching the tiny alligator-like lady bug larvae devour aphids by the hundreds or seeing the tomato hornworms succumb to the teensy parasitic wasps.

This year, we appear to be having a population explosion of aphids.  They are all over everything, but especially bad on my peas, tomatoes, and roses.  They stunt growth, disfigure the plants, spread disease, and can eventually suck the plants to death.

I started out using a product called “Insecticidal Soap” for NatureworksTN that my Mom bought last year.  It’s made from Cayenne Pepper, Garlic, Olive Oil, and Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Castille Soap.  It didn’t have the immediate killing power of commercial poisonous insecticides, but the next day, my plants were aphid free.  Amazing!  But unfortunately, they came back worse than before.  I don’t think it’s a reflection on the soap, it just shows how bad the infestation really is.  The past couple of days, I’ve been wandering around my yard finding Ladybug larvae and releasing them onto the infested plants.  They’ve stuck around and I can see that they are making dent in the aphid population on the individual plants.  But so far, it just isn’t enough.

I actually found myself in the insecticide aisle at Lowes eyeing the Sevin Dust.  So I’m on a quest to rescue my plants from the sucking aphids.  I’m off to the interwebs to do some research, but feel free to leave a comment if you’ve found something sustainable that works.

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