It’s full on Summer, June 22nd, and the heat is on all over the country. It has been a very early, hot, dry Spring and Summer here in Santa Fe and New Mexico. People have been calling in about BUGS!!!! There are 2 main types that are causing concern. First are aphids- very small, green, oval ‘buggers’, that attack plants and leaves and suck the juices. The Pac Chois are the worst for attracting these creatures, probably because they have the juiciest leaves and stalks.
If you have chaos in your garden, I suggest you take them out for prevention. Plant them outside in open beds or pots. For control, you can get ladybugs, sprinkle them around affected plants at dusk, and let them do their thing for several days. This should clear up your aphid problem. You can also try Basic H2, or Safer veggie soap, applied by spray onto buggy plants. This creates a stickiness, that you might want to avoid in the longterm, and try ladybugs first.
The second pest is flea beetle. Control for them would be diatomaceous earth, dusted on with a squeeze-sprayer can. Be sure to wear a mask, and not apply on windy days. You definitely don’t want to breathe the powder. The DE will get into the beetle’s skeletons, dry them out, and kill them.
Just wash off all dusted leaves before eating. DE is an off-white, talc-like powder, that is the fossilized remains of marine phytoplankton. It does not hurt mammals. DE won’t really affect aphids, so if you are have and are going to treat both pests, do the DE first, wait about 3-4 days, then wash off all your plants well with a spray hose, and THEN put in the ladybugs at dusk.
The best way to control these critters is to open your beds during the day, letting the beneficial insects such as ladybugs, praying mantises, parasitic wasps, and birds into your bed to ‘clean house’ and keep the aphids and beetles, white flies, or any other noxious bugs at bay. You can simply slide the cover up on the hoops, and clip it 1/2 way, a third of the way, all the way, for better bed aeration. If you do have squirrel, rabbit, or other invasive animals that want to get into your beds, then either zip open the end flaps, roll them up, and get a nice cross ventilation, or only lift your covers a few inches, clip them, and at least give the beneficials a chance to get in and do their work. If you have an ant problem, try grits! That’s right, grits! The ants eat the grits, drink water, the grits expand, and whammo! Just sprinkle the grits throughout your bed. Its that easy!