Pests in the patch & Aquaponic update...

Posted July 22nd, 2012 by Rob Bob : )»

Aphids, Grrrrrr….
Have had a few outbreaks of aphids in different spots over the past few weeks.. One lot turned up in the Aquaponic grow bed & another in Bed #1 on the dill, as well as the mescal salad mix.. Aphids are small insects that have long sharp mouth parts (called rostrum) that spear the plant to feed on its sap… They can also spread disease through the patch as they go from plant to plant to feed..
We have 2 different types as far as we can tell, a black one in the Aquaponic set up, that leaves a purple smear when crushed & a light green variety in Bed #1...

These little critters get around with the help of ants who like to farm the Aphids for their sweet sugary "Honeydew".. The outbreak on the dill (above right) cleared up all by itself mysteriously so can only put that down to natural predators...

3 Methods of aphid control…
While there are a few home made recipes for aphid control, the infestation in the grow beds needs to be tackled differently as fish & yabbies are particularly sensitive to both synthetic & natural pest control chemicals..
In the past I have used a natural product called (Food Grade, not the pool grade) Diatomaceous earth (DE)…
DE is made up of Diatoms (single-celled organisms that produce oxygen) that are fossilised into silica.. It looks like a fine powder & is OK for us to handle but proper protection should be worn to keep it out of eyes & lungs as it has very sharp edges that can irritate.. These sharp edges are what make it such an effective pesticide as it breaks down the outside of the insects "shell" leaving them unprotected & susceptible to dehydration.. Just like most pesticides it does need to be reapplied after rain...
A huge outbreak was treated with the DE last weekend & there only a few scattered patches left so will be using the soap spray below to spot treat them..

The first spray mix we are going to try is a liquid soap insecticide.. We have never actually tried before but it has been recommended to us by a few people.. The soap is said to wash the aphids protective wax coating off, which causes them to dehydrate & die.. For this we will be mixing 2 tsp of liquid Sunlight soap to 1 litre of water (1:100 mix) then spraying it directly onto the aphids.. It is also acceptable to use this in the Aquaponic grow beds, so shall be using it on the small out breaks of the aphids here now that the DE has knocked most of them on the head..

The second mix is made from garlic & chilli mixed in water.. We have tried this mix before years ago on a small grasshopper infestation & found that it worked fairly well, but we have never used it on aphids before.. For this mix 1 full bulb of garlic cloves, 1 litre of water, 3 small & 1 large hot chillies were blended with 500ml of boiling water for 30 seconds then set aside for 18 hours…

This was strained & added to 500ml of cold water then sprayed onto the infested plants..
Results…
I'll update you all on the progress of the home made pesticides next week, after a full weeks worth of treatment..

A few words on Neem....
The neem tree comes from the Asian subcontinent around India & Pakistan.. We normally use neem as a pesticide & know it works well against Aphids but won't be using it this time round.. It is a great weapon to have in the "Organic" pesticide arsenal.. Neem's active constituent is Azadirachtin & it works in a few different ways.. It can be directly applied onto pests, as well as a systemic pesticide that is taken up by the roots of the plants, then consumed by the pest when they eat the plant.. Once eaten or absorbed it blocks the insects hormones from working correctly (works differently on different insects) & the pest dies... So it does take longer than other methods.. It is also toxic to crustaceans so that is why we won't use it in the Aquaponic system, however it isn't toxic to humans & can actually be beneficial in treating some conditions in us according to some sources** It also has other uses in the garden, such as an effective treatment for nematodes & as a preventative spray for powdery/downey mildew but will talk about them at a later date..

We use a Neem Plant Spray from Neeming Australia for now but will be making up our own out of cold pressed neem seed once it runs out..

** http://www.discoverneem.com/

Aquaponic System..
Have set up the last of the grow bed on the system **does happy dance** & made up a bit of a clip for any interested persons..
<< Click here..
It has been a long time coming to get this up & going.. Will be planting out the rest of the beds over the next month or so as the weather warms up.. Starting to think of little add on projects now like a strawberry grow pipes/wall..

A FREAKY Carrot...
I think we have a few Nematode issues that have to be looked into... The roots are just a tad deformed on a few of the carrots.. So I shall start treating the soil later in the week...
One from Sept 2011...
It has occurred before but just put it down to a freaky carrot caused by too much heavy metal (music) in the garden..
You can blame B for that pun ; )»
Now I know the true cause, I can start treating it correctly...

This week's pickings…



Have nearly finished the current crop of cauliflowers, with 1 left in the bed & 1 ½ heads still in the fridge.. The kale has been enjoyed in stir fries & lightly steamed with other veg.. Picking off a few small side shoots of the broccoli as we wait for the other heads to mature.. All but one of the bulls horn capsicums have now been picked & are getting a few Roma tomatoes every 2-3 days with daily pickings of snow peas.. Also started pulling the first of our heritage carrots as well as picking honey pod & sugar snap peas this week…The cape gooseberries & strawberries are coming in dribs & drabs, & we are unfortunately losing a few strawberries to mould..

Thanks for reading such a long post if you made it this far ;)»
Will let you know how we got on with the pest sprays next week..
Have a great one all..

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