June 27, 2019
Nothing ruins a garden party like uninvited pests. The good news is that pests are much easier to deal with on your vertical, hydroponic Farmstand than they would be on plants in the ground. Here’s how to send the three most common pests packing without resorting to toxic pesticides! And stay tuned for information on more common pests in the garden.
An exceedingly common pest, aphids are small soft bodied, oval-shaped insects with a small head. They appear in various colors such as gold, red, black and various shades of green. You’ll commonly see them on the underside of leaves.
Season: Winter to Spring
Weak, damaged, stressed plants are more susceptible or plants that are in the shade
Lettuces, eggplant, parsley and cilantro
How to treat:
Remove any heavily infested leaves.
Spray leaves with water or a mixture of water and soap.
Persistent infestations can be treated by organic pesticides such as azadirachtin, pyrethrin, spinosad.
Spray in the early morning or afternoon in low wind conditions and saturate leaf and stalk on all sides.
While there are many different types of caterpillars, most are brown or green worms that leave behind piles of black droppings and holes that go all the way through leaves. They can be hard to see, as they usually lay against leaf stems to blend in when they rest in the mornings.
Season: Summer and Fall
Especially brassicas - i.e. kale, broccoli, spigariello, collards, bok choy
Lettuces are a favorite of moth larvae.
Hornworm caterpillars love plants in the nightshade family - i.e. eggplant, peppers, tomatoes).
How to treat:
Small infestations can be treated by picking off caterpillars or infested leaves and crushing them or throwing them in a bucket of soapy water.
Persistent infestations can be treated by spraying weekly with Bt and Spinosad (made from a naturally-occurring bacteria found in the soil and non-toxic to humans and non-target wildlife). This can be sprayed on the leaf surface - it’s not necessary to hit the caterpillars directly.
Adult Harlequin Beetles have a shield-shaped body, about ½ inch long. They’re brightly colored, typically black and yellow or black and red, although color patterns can vary by the season. Nymphs are rounded and black, with pale green markings which soon turn brilliant red and yellow and eggs are tiny white barrels encircled by black bands with a black crescent on top and are laid in small clusters arranged in rows of six on leaf undersides. Signs of Harlequin Beetle activity include white spots on the leaves or leaves that brown and look tattered.
Season: Late Spring and Summer
How to treat:
Remove manually and look for eggs on the undersides of leaves. The beetles won’t bite! Crush them or submerge them in a bucket of soapy water.
If the affected plant or plants are close to harvest size, it’s best to harvest and replant with a new young seedling.
If the plant is overgrown, or not receiving enough sunlight, the beetles are likely targeting it because it’s a weaker plant.
The nymph stage can be controlled with organic-approved pesticides such as pyrethrins, insecticidal soap, or neem oil. The adults are very difficult to control with pesticides, but typically only appear seasonally before moving on.