2015 Failure - March of the Aphids

2015 Failure – March of the Aphids

In my last blog post about Aphid Indoor Garden Pests, I talked about the invasion of the pin-head sized creepy crawlies that had infested my indoor garden.  What started as a few small buggers ended becoming an overwhelming tsunami of Aphids.  For more background on Aphids, please see the post here and here.  Rest assured, I had all stages of Aphid life on display in my indoor garden IN MY HOUSE, and my small scale salad garden had suddenly become an entomologist’s paradise and super laboratory.  I can only describe this massive infestation “the March of the Aphids.”

Joining Battle Against the Aphids

Aphid Treatment

Aphid Treatment – Dish soap, water, cayenne pepper, olive oil

In mid-December, I went to war against the relatively small legion of Aphids that had infested my lettuce and spinach.  As I described in my last post Aphid Indoor Garden Pests, I used a mixture of water, dish soap, cayenne pepper and olive oil in a spray bottle.  I took each container to the laundry sink and doused every leaf, every stem, soil, exposed landscape fabric and side of the container with the soap mixture.  I have to say I had some satisfaction exacting my revenge on the little pests: the flies were grounded, and the green creepers were pinned down and drowning.  I even took some of my quart mason jars and pre-made more Aphid napalm.  Over the next week, I proceeded to treat the plants.  True progress was being made: the March of the Aphids had been halted, and I was pretty happy with the results.

The Holidays: A Time of Celebration…and Chaos

Christmas 2014

It’s me with a cool new Small Scale Gardening shirt and Heisenberg coffee cup! Sweet! Merry Christmas!

Shazam!  Suddenly, it was Christmas.  Family came to town to celebrate, and we had a lot of things/events scheduled.  On top of that, I headed east to Wisconsin right after Christmas for a few days, and then it was New Years.  The basement was in chaos due to some big weddings that were being assembled and delivered for Julia’s Blooms, and unfortunately, the wedding operation did not allow for much attention to the March of the Aphids.

Aria New Years Eve Wedding

Julia’s Blooms set up an awesome wedding on New Years Eve night at Aria in Minneapolis

Right after New Years, it was my birthday, and my son’s Varsity Basketball Season kicked off in full force.  With vacation over, I was back at my regular job, and I caught a nasty cold.  The cold really knocked me down and out for a week.  Yes, I know what you are saying: excuses, excuses, excuses.  I am not proud of them, but it is reality here at times.  Is this how life works sometimes or what?!?

The Final March of the Aphids

Aphids love spinach

Aphid infestation! The Aphids love spinach, and it shows! 1/17/15

When I finally felt better, I went downstairs and inspected the indoor garden.  Truth be told, I had never seen anything like it in my life.  The Aphids had had a party, and they partied like it was 1999!  I had all stages of Aphid life going on, and they had multiplied exponentially.  I was shocked, but doing some research, I found that Aphids multiply like mad if left to their devices.  Backyardnature.net had the following to say about Aphid reproduction:

“One feature most species share is that they are incredibly prolific. Wingless adult female aphids can produce 50 to 100 offspring. A newly born aphid becomes a reproducing adult within about a week and then can produce up to 5 offspring per day for up to 30 days!”

Backyard Nature.net

Each container had gotten overwhelmed, but perhaps the worst was the spinach.  The Aphids LOVE spinach, and they attacked the spinach with an unholy zeal.   Looking at the wreck and ruin I had to ask myself even if I could turn the tide, would I want to eat any of that lettuce?  The answer, after shining the light over the leaves and seeing the slick “honeydew” all over the plant, was a resounding NO.

Aphids attacked the lettuce too. 1/17/15

Aphids attacked the lettuce too. 1/17/15

I decided that the March of the Aphids had bested me.  I have big plans for my indoor garden operation, and I cannot have infected soil and materials.  It is best to start fresh and new: new soil, clean containers, clean water.  Last night I created a video of the garden and my thoughts, and then I unceremoniously dumped the plants, soil, and landscape fabric in the garbage.  I know Aphids are hearty, and I did not want to waste time using contaminated soil and landscape fabric.  I filled the containers with water and added bleach in order to further disinfect the materials used, and I wiped down the table and lights with bleach water.

So ends the March of the Aphids.  They have won this battle, but I will win the war.  Hopefully others have learned from this post, and hopefully people like Pam at Growing North have better luck with her Aphids than I did with mine.

In the end, the most important lesson learned was a harsh one that we must always keep in the back of our minds:

“If you neglect your garden today, truly disastrous results will be in your future.”

@TomGarette from Small Scale Gardening

Aphid free and decontaminated

Decontaminating and Resetting to Zero. 01/18/15

Decontamination continues.  I will begin the new operation soon, and I will share my plans for the indoor garden in an upcoming post.

Until then, let’s grow this together!

 

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