21 November 2010

bugs bummin' me out

the grey cabbage aphid is destroying all my brassicas! the kale was hit the hardest, but now they are going after the beloved brussel sprouts, the young cauliflower, and i even saw a few on the arugula! it makes no sense. i had never seen them until this fall, and they came on strong. my russian kale was lush just a month ago. they attack the young, tender, new leaves, which basically stunts the growth of the plant, and eventually kills it.



since i garden organically, i am used to hand-picking pests off of my plants. it is one of the benefits of having a small, back yard garden--a person can usually notice and keep up with pest problems. i started by removing these vile creatures with my bare hands, sort of sweeping the leaves with my thumb. but now i just blast them with a strong stream of water from the hose.



it gets them off the plants, but i have to keep doing it, every day. i finally gave up on the kale, and pulled it today. i hope to save the brussels sprouts and califlower, but i don't have a whole lot of hope.

in other bug related news, fruit flies have found my worm composting bins--both at home, and at work. again, this is a new phenomenon for me, and started in the fall. at home, they migrated to the kitchen, too. we have tried everything, including removing any possible food sources cleaning meticulously (and drying everything), plus trapping them with vinegar. we have reduced their population immensely. lately, we "vacuum" them up with the back of a hair dryer. it is strange, but effective (and secretly satisfying).

so far though, i'm not really finding any answers about the worm bin problem. experts say to bury the food scraps in the bedding, or to wrap them in newspaper to avoid attracting fruit flies. i always do one or both of those things, and have never had a problem. now, i still do those things, and i have a fruit fly infestation, and it is not going away. it is especially problematic at work, as i am trying to get the vermiculture system established, and this is a huge set back.

your suggestions and/or commiserations welcome.

5 comments:

Alli said...

I had the same issue with the vermiculture both at home and at work. I too tried very hard to get rid of them but to no avail. They eat the bacteria that break down the food so to get rid of their food source means ditching the bin. Sadly, I have not ventured to try it again since the infestation!

tish said...

i used to worm compost in an apartment and had this trouble whenever my drainage was blocked. my bin had drainholes in the bottom and a big tray under it. flies usually meant i needed to unblock the holes. the wetter my compost the more flies i got.

Heather said...

Gak, we totally got those aphids at one point (gross little meanies, they are), a few years after we started gardening. We did a lot of blast-removal too but didn't really get a handle on them until we planted a TON of flowers that attract beneficial insects (in particular the hover fly) - dill, queen anne's, yarrow, marigolds, etc. We just let it all go wild in the garden and it basically eradicated them, although it took almost a year. Oh, and we also used some predatory nematodes on the soil to get at the eggs there...

Good luck! Your brussels looked so lovely, they are a favorite of mine that we have yet to try to grow.

cake said...

alli, this is not what i wanted to hear!

tish, you could be right. except, it seems like the bins that are the newest, and therefore, the driest and fluffiest, are the ones with the problem. the bin i have had for years, which is a lot denser (with worm castings, mostly) has less of a problem. i have heard that the fruit flies can't burrow, so i wondered if the lightness of the new bedding made it easier for them? just speculating here...

heather, thanks for the aphid advise. i just learned about those flowers and the beneficial predators they attract to the garden. i plan to plant those all over the place next year! i have witnessed the wasps making short work of those pesky cabbage caterpillars!

i know nothing about nematodes, but i will be looking into it.

TeresaR said...

Total bummer about your bug infestation! Our fruit flies seem to have died out since we didn't supply them with food during our nearly 2 months away from home. Our veggies in the garden don't seem to have too many bugs on them. I'd have thought the frosts we had would have killed most bugs...