Water, water all around you’d think the likely invasion of bugs bothering your plants would be reduced. But, no – I have an invasion of aphids and ants on my leafy plants. Here in Maunawili, Kailua on Oahu, I have had, for the last year or so, an above average amount of ants in and about my yard. The bug guy (thanks, Troy of Terminix) comes by once a quarter and keeps all buggy pests under control.
But when I planted my Lilikoi vine, I started having problems with the ants invading the flowers and breaking them off before any fruit was made. So I started to investigate non-poisonous ways to control the ants. Pepper, Vinegar and soap sprays seemed to work so I would spray every day. But the chili powder I was using clogs up the spray bottle. Lesson number one, buy whole, hot chilies and steep in the boiled, hot vinegar water then strain and add the dish soap, voila – no clogs. However, the spraying every day gets a bit time consuming and I was still having flower drop off. So I switched to an organic insecticidal soap product.
On the in-dirt plants – worked wonderfully and can be applied up to the day of harvest. Then the aquaponics system was installed and Kale, Lettuce, and basil plants from seedlings or plants from the old system transferred to the new were installed and took root, I began to see an invasion of aphids – first on the leafy lettuce and then on the kale. Now with aquaponics you’ve got to be careful of whatever you use to fight bugs as even organic preparations can be harmful to the fish(and this organic soap stated clearly it was harmful to aquatic – my fish- creatures) Even the vinegar solution, if too much gets into the water, will mess with the system’s balance.
The lettuce wasn’t much of a problem as it is in little cups in the tower; easy to remove and hold under water for 15 minutes and the little buggahs fall off. Or if your arm gets tired, hold under water and rub them off in the fish tank, which is what I did as the fish were trying to eat the lettuce!! The Kale was a problem though. I took an old plastic, flexible cutting mat and cut a slit and a hole in the middle to put around the base of the plant. Leaves that were too infested, I just cut off and threw away. Took the vinegar-pepper spray and sprayed (carefully so as not to overspray into the rocks) only the backs of the leaves and took a cloth and rubbed off the aphids, trying to keep them from dropping into the media.
Lots of new little seedlings are popping up and I’m harvesting enough lettuce already for two salads a day. The kale has been cut and eaten to where the leaves left are aphid free – so far. I check every morning and remove any I see, pluck off old growth and fallen leaves – so far, Kate 1 Aphids 0. I’ll keep you posted on the progress.
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