Brooding On

Aphids, Spider Mites, and Whiteflies, Oh My!

I know this is not even close to the biggest garden problem we'll run into this year.  Nevertheless, it is the first hiccup we've had, so it merits a post.  You may need a magnifying glass to even see the tiny critters, but they're creepy crawling on some of the newspaper pots in the grow room.

In fact, I haven't seen any on the plants at all, so the little bugs may just be feasting on the damp newspaper.  Regardless, out comes the trusty Vegetable Garden Problem Solver  to help identify the critters.  I'm still not sure what they are and would welcome any help with identification.  The two smallest critters listed were these two, the spider mite and the aphid.

This is a pic of the fly tape I put in the grow room to catch all the gnats.  Apparently, warm, damp soil is a veritable breeding ground for them, but the tape seems to take care of the problem.  That's not gonna do much for these little gray things, though, because they don't seem to fly.

Because I am determined to garden organically this year and not resort to Sevin dust, I was pleased to disover the Problem Solver's suggestion of Garlic Spray.  According to the book, "Claims abound for garlic's repellent effect on a wide variety of pests, including aphids, caterpillars, flea beetles, leafhoppers, leafminers flies, maggot flies, spider mites, thrips, and whiteflies. . . .Applying these sprays seems harmless, but there's evidence that garlic sprays kill some types of beneficial insects including beneficials that prey on aphids."  So, weigh your options here.  Since I don't suspect I have many beneficials on my plants right now anyway since they're indoors, I decided to go forward with the spray.  The book suggests spraying preventatively every 2 weeks. 

To make the spray, blend a quart of water with 2-6 cloves of garlic. 

Pour your mixture into a spray bottle.  At this point, you can add a few drops of liquid soap, not detergent, but this will make your spray even more likely to kill beneficial insects.  I opted to leave out the soap for now.  To apply, spray plants thoroughly, including the undersides of the leaves.  If using on plants already outside, "spray on a dry day when no rain is expected" so that garlic has a chance to dry on the plants.  Store your spray in the refrigerator, and it should last all season.