Gardening is a learning curve and the best way to get better at it is to keep doing it and try and keep some records so you can look back and see what works at what time of year. You will get failures along the way, but they are one step in finding out what grows well in your area, what insects cause the most damage and experiments in trying to overcome them.
These little suckers (in the literal sense of the word) are up there with cane toads and white cabbage butterfly as a pest that causes me to think of genocide. When you see your hard work devastated by a pest, you start to understand why the majority of farmers and gardeners turn to chemicals to rid them of the problem.
In the picture above you can see all the aphids on the Wombok growing in the wicking bed. I have sprayed them with a mixtrure of dishwashing liquid and grapeseed oil. Many sites recommend a horticultural oil, which is quite expensive. I have found that olive oil, canola oil or any cooking oil that is in the cupboard seems to do ok.
Horticultural Oil is a petroleum derivative. That’s why it is more expensive. Though with the price of oil below $50 a barrel, maybe it will become less expensive. But somehow, eating produce that has been sprayed with petroleum oil doesn’t really appeal to me.
Aphid Infestation Crop Loss
While spraying, I figured I was wasteing my time and the infestation was that bad that the only cure was to remove the infested plants. I ended up keeping two Wombok that weren’t as badly affected to see if the spraying worked. The rest went to the compost heap.
Not all Doom and Gloom
As you can see there are still plenty of vegetables left. It would appear that aphids are sweettooths, and don’t find the produce that is more on the bitter side palatable. The spinach, endive and minutina weren’t touched. Some would say that the aphids have good taste, as I would have said when I was a kid. But as it happens my taste has changed over the years and I am pleased to find non aphid infested produce.
I can also verify that aphids don’t infest broad beans. Another vegetable that wasn’t on my favourite list as a child.
Another vegetable we use in soups and sometimes a stir fry is Garland Chrysanthemum. It is used a lot in Taiwan and I bought the seeds at an Asian grocer in Sunnybank. They are easy to grow and the aphids leave them alone.
The lady of the house likes these so much they have all been picked.
Gardening is not always beer and skittles. But whenever you get a problem, you have a chance to use your problem solving abilities.
I have re-learned that I am not ruthless enough in the garden. Whenever I plant seeds, I find it very difficult to thin them out. I am often transplanting them or letting them all grow. This was the case with the Womboks, cabbages and cauliflowers in the wicking bed. Having them too close together has meant that the aphids have found it easy to move from one plant to the other and it is difficult to inspect the plants.
The bright side is, with the Womboks gone, there is now more room for some more of the Garland Chrysanthemum. They will be planted with good separation and culled if too close together.