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Aphids in my lettuce - other options?

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Aphids in my lettuce - other options? Empty Aphids in my lettuce - other options?

Post  akameswaran on 9/28/2010, 10:37 am

So I've been traveling for work a lot lately, which mostly means I'm only checking in on my garden on the weekends.

I've been having some on and off issues with aphids on my fall crop of lettuce. It's been OK up till now with washing them off, and using neem oil to minimize their return. But it's now gotten bad, bad enough that now there are ants 'herding' the aphids.

I'm tempted to use Safer Soap - which was ok against the green aphids I had on my tomatoes in spring. However, these are definitely a different variety - being a dark brown.

Anyway - here are options I was thinking of, but if someone has a better idea. BTW: I'm not obsessed with staying 'pure' organic, but I do my best to limit the addition of anything except compost and soil additives. But, I will (haven't had to yet) break down and use evil stuff if I'm faced with loosing the crop.

1) Physical removal - I will continue trying to wash them off/cut off the worst infected leavves. But it's gotten too bad for that alone
2) Neem oil - I plan to continue once a week application of Neem - but the rain and travel has made that harder to keep up with. Again - I'm beyond neem levels for true control.
3) Safer soap - I plan to do a single application once I get a good rain free day.

Anyone had any luck using DE (Diatem-I can't spell it- atios earth) for aphids? Or any other ideas to try and control them? I should again say, I usually can keep these outbreaks under enough control, but traveling has unfortunately let the little buggers get ahead of me, and my typical control measures will probably not be enough.

Another thing- I planted a romaine/baby green mix. I've noticed the bugs really like one variety a lot more than the others, and it's my least favorite. Should I consider roguing those plants?
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akameswaran

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Post  Garden Angel on 9/28/2010, 12:04 pm

You said everything I was going to say ! yes I do use the Safer soap but I have'nt on lettuce , even if it is organic I would throw away the outer leaves when you harvest, if it is that bad I would , and probably would use the diatomaceous earth (DE) cause it could be washed off , but that is really the draw back of DE is it needs to stay dry to be effective, although I have used it outside and just keep re-applying it and it seems to be ok. Maybe setting up a boundry of it around the box would help, or maybe putting the DE as plants are growing. I think the ants do bring the aphids, I think I remember reading somewhere the aphids suck out the moisture from the plant and the ants do the same to the aphids! Sorry not sure what you mean by "roguing those plants". Good luck and hope you get to harvest some anyway.
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Post  akameswaran on 9/28/2010, 12:34 pm

The good news is I've already been harvesting the plants, it's just me and my wife, so we constantly pick a couple salads worth each day. With my travel the lettuce has kind of grown crazy and dense since I'm not around to eat it. Also, except for the badly infested leaves, the lettuce is still in pretty good shape, but that won't last. I'm just hoping I have some overlap between my lettuce, and my carrots which are just about edible size now.

By roguing I mean, pulling them out, perhaps pulling off the few good leaves and composting the rest. I did that this morning to the worst infested plant, it was getting very wilty and nothing was good to eat anymore.

What I wouldn't give for a dry day though - it's been raining/cloudy - niether the soap nor the DE are going to work until I get a decently dry day. I think I'll try the DE first, I do have a dry sprayer thing that works pretty well for dusting the undersides of leaves.

I kinda wonder if using a light dusting of DE, followed by a very light misting with the safer soap would hold the DE to the leaves - or if it would just moisten the DE, making it useless. I think I'll try that on one of the plants to see how it works out.

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Post  Garden Angel on 9/28/2010, 5:40 pm

I agree with you, try it and see and let us know, ok? best of luck with that, don't remember when its rained here, we are so dusty dry here.
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Post  akameswaran on 9/29/2010, 12:51 pm

Applied DE this morning - as it's finally not raining.

By lunch time, I went to pick some fresh lettuce for lunch and many of the aphids were dead, or at least not moving at all.

I picked off the leaves I wanted for lunch, snipped off one or two that were just too wilted to be any use for the plant or for eating.

I have a couple of plants that I was letting develop a head, but noticed they had mini swarms starting in the interior where the DE can't get. So I trimmed a little and then doused them in the DE as well.

After harvesting for lunch, I went ahead and soaped the red tinged lettuce as it has the worst infestations.

So DE worked in just a few hours to help control them. I'll report at the end of the week.
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Post  Garden Angel on 9/29/2010, 1:00 pm

Wow, sounds like you are making progress already ! glad to hear the DE is working so well, if it was as bad as you say I'd say thats hopefull news for anyone experiencing the same problem , here's hoping it won't rain for a while. I put some on mine yesterday aslo, thanks for the info, gee its like your garden was a test garden for an aphid eradication experiment ! keep us posted !
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Post  jerik on 9/30/2010, 10:10 am

Hi - Can you tell me what DE is? Sorry for my ignorance. thanks, jeri
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Post  akameswaran on 9/30/2010, 10:34 am

DE = Diatemacious earth. It's a mineral that they mine and is completely innocuous to mammals or just about anything bigger than a bug. It basically works because the very small particles are sharp, if you're bug sized.

The bad news is I got rain last night. This morning many of the plants are aphid free, but the reddish romaine still has a bunch of the little guys hiding and playing in the head. I brushed them off as best as I can, but will have to wait for another dry day, and reapply the DE and probably the safer soap on the plants that had bugs today.
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Post  Garden Angel on 9/30/2010, 11:56 am

You know I just had a thought , I remember reading on here somewhere about liquid coffee being a deterent , maybe that would work even if it was wet and would wash off when harvested. I guess it might make the soil a bit more acidic . Hmmm, just a thought.
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Post  akameswaran on 9/30/2010, 12:50 pm

I'll have to give it a try... we always have a little coffee left over and occaisionally save it for iced coffee. But with it getting cooler - this might be a better way to recycle that last cup in the pot.
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Post  erbarnett on 9/30/2010, 3:21 pm

Nasturtiums are a magnet for aphids. Just plant them here and there in your SFG, and the aphids will go there first. They are easy to grow. You need to soak the large, thick skinned seeds overnight before planting them in a square. The flowers and leaves are attractive and are edible. They taste a little like radishes. Just wash off the aphids, and add them to your salad. They will bloom for many months, sometimes past the first frost.
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Post  Chopper on 9/30/2010, 4:35 pm

Unfortunately, in my garden this year the aphids are loving the squash and beans but have completely ignored the nasturtiums in the same boxes. And I don't believe they have touched the roses nearby, which are also supposed to be loved by aphids. I am going to make teeny weeny user guides and give them to the aphids to re-educate them on where they are supposed to be. Maybe tiny signs with arrows?
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Post  boffer on 9/30/2010, 5:06 pm

@Chopper wrote: I am going to make teeny weeny user guides and give them to the aphids to re-educate them on where they are supposed to be.

yahoo I hope it works so well that you become an over-night millionaire!
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