Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Hey Ladies...

I've been battling aphids on my tomato plants since June. I've never noticed any aphids in my gardens before, but they started out on one tomato plant this year and spread to the others. It was my excitement to try this one particular tomato variety that kept me from plucking the infested plant before things got out of hand.

Every year I plant different varieties of heirloom tomatoes. I've tried the brandywines, green zebras, garden peach, yellow pear, Juan Flame, Black Krim, and countless others. I've enjoyed every one of them, but I rarely repeat them because there's something special about planting a new (old) variety. Sometimes I'll hear about a variety I want to try and seek it out. Other times (okay, most times) I just like the name of the tomato plant so I'll buy it. I mean, how can you resist a tomato called the "Hillbilly"? Such was also the case with the Italian Cream Sausage tomatoes.

I know, I know. Those tomatoes don't sound vegan, kosher, or even healthy. Maybe that's why they appealed to me so much... And when aphids appeared on my Italian Cream Sausage plant, I just couldn't bring myself to destroy the plant.

I've tried a few of the recommended treatments- I've inspected each leaf, squishing the aphids and their larvae. I've sprayed them with a high pressure hose to knock them off . I've misted them with soapy water to drown the suckers. Yet they still spread to my other tomatoes.

So now, with 6 tomato plants afflicted, I'm bringing in the big guns.

Ladybugs LOVE aphids. Me: not so much. So I'll let the ladies do the work on this one.
{By the way, I got them at Mother Earth Gardens in Minneapolis. They're awesome}

The boys helped me water the garden to encourage the thirsty ladybugs to stay a while, have a drink, and have a bite (of aphids) to eat. Then we spritzed them with some sugar water to make them a little sticky so they won't want to fly too soon. {Don't worry- it doesn't hurt them}
The boys helped me spread the ladies on the tomato plants. We only used about 1/2 the bag. The ladybugs went back in the fridge for a nap until our second spreading. I hope they're hungry!

Some good news from the garden is that the black hollyhocks I got for Mike a few years back are finally blooming. Mike's favorite color is black and when I asked him what flowers he'd like to plant he replied, "Black ones", probably trying to be difficult. So when I found black hollyhocks, I knew we had to plant them.
When I'm out in the garden, using a pitchfork and spreading straw, mucking around in compost, I like to pretend I'm a real farmer. This is how hardcore I feel.


SusanV said...

I had a massive aphid infestation on my tomatoes, too, and I was very tempted to order some ladybugs (they're not available locally) after trying several of the remedies you mention. Fortunately, I noticed a few ladybugs showing up on their own, so I decided to give them a chance. Something worked--either the ladybugs or the high heat got rid of the problem. I hope your ladybugs do the trick for you!

Erin said...

Watch our for that pitchfork!

jessy said...

oh yeah - i totally forgot about ladybugs! what a wonderful idea! and that's too funny on the sugar water - i had no idea! that's so neat! i hope they eat all those aphids up, Liz!

and you look totally bad ass with a pitch fork! yay! :D

herbivore said...

What a beautiful garden!

Hopefully your Italian cream sausages end up alright :) There is nothing like heirloom tomatoes. I have been waiting all summer for them. (and all winter too :)

Alice (in Veganland) said...

lady bugs to the rescue!! I hope it works well...

Liz said...

So far the ladies are sticking around and it looks like the number of aphids is down a bit. I'll keep you all posted...It's nice to know you're wishing my tomatoes luck- That can't hurt!