Skip to main content

Aphids Beware

I have an aphid problem. In Michigan, they attacked my tomatoes, and I did a great deal of squishing. (I never found the method of blasting them off with a jet of water very effective.) In Japan, they are attacking everything - swiss chard, nasturtiums, parsley, cilantro, johnny-jump-ups - on both porches. Birds and bugs (neither of which I can identify at this moment) are helping as they can, but when they attacked my kale seedlings I drew the line.

Aphids reveal themselves in spring and will hang out for a whole season if one is not attentive. They will overwinter in woody plants, so diligence is required for a season or two to say the least. Much to my dismay, they at some point develop wings (hellish things), and fly off to find a new buffet. Ants will apparently also move them about since the ant enjoys the honeydew the aphid desposits as it snacks.

I read that a strong chamomille tea would encourage them to leave, so I thought I'd give it a shot. (I can't find a reference now for that, but suffice it to say the tea is made.) And after I spotted them on my kale seedling, things got ugly. The pitcher contains not only chamomille tea, but three hot chillis, two bags of mint tea, some cilantro, and some fresh mint. I added water to all of this and set it out in the sun to brew. Oh, and some nasturtium blossoms that needed to be pinched. (There are a variety of home remedies for assorted bugs and diseases that are worth checking out.)

It looked quite pretty as it started, and now it looks downright lethal. I plan to use a small amount mixed with water and dish soap, and we'll see what happens. My only fear is that I may have created a plant killer as well.


Roanne said…
Hey there. I've used a small amount of natural soap and water and that seemed to work. The other thing I tried was lady bugs which seemed to work very well. (I don't know if they are native in Japan)
Watching a praying manthis feast on aphids is quite fun too.

kevin said…
Tomoe's plum tree is being demolished by aphids as I write this (abura mushi). We are not sure yet what to do either, but luckily there is also an army of lady bugs out there coming to its defense. We will also try some home-made repellents such as tobacco juice, ash water, vinigar, milk, coffee, etc.

Roanne is right about the mantis as well. There are places you can buy mantis babies and eggs here in Japan.

Popular posts from this blog

Finding Heirloom Seeds in Japan

Drying pods of heirloom Hutterite Soup Beans. Since moving to Japan eight years ago, one of my greatest challenges as a farmer-gardener has been to find heirloom or open-pollinated seeds. The majority of seeds available are not GMO (genetically modified organisms) as Japan, at this point, doesn't accept this material. Most seeds, though, are nearly all F1 varieties. Heirloom and F1 Varieties In plant breeding, F1 is the name given to the first generation of a cross between two true breeding parents. For example, if I decide to cross an Amish Paste Tomato with another heirloom variety tomato such as Emmy, in hopes of getting a gold paste tomato, the resulting generation of fruit is F1. In order to get that tomato of my culinary dreams, I'll need to choose members of that first generation that are headed in a direction I like - early ripening, medium-sized fruit, good taste - and save their seeds. I'll plant them and repeat the process again and again over time unti

Satoimo: One of Japan's Favorite Slimy Things

Satoimo in all their hairy glory. This post first appeared in slightly different form on Garden to Table as part of the 2012  Blogathon . The website has since moved on to the ether, but the post is still a good one. After all, people here are still eating satoimo on a daily basis, and many others are just seeing these little potato-like objects for the first time. Enjoy! Satoimo is one of Japan's odder vegetables. Under it's rough, slightly furry skin is white flesh that is a little bit slimy even raw, and with a gentle nutty flavor.* Baked, grilled, steamed with dashi, or deep-fried satoimo stands well on its own or paired up with other vegetables and meats in a wide variety of soups and stews . (The leaves are also edible.) Satoimo stores well, and like any root crop worth the effort, stocks are just running low on this household favorite as the farmers in my area of Tokyo get ready to put a new crop in the ground in May. I cannot say I was a fan of this l

Goma Ai Shingiku - Sesame and Chrysanthemum Greens

Last week I had the pleasure of helping some friends work in their parents garden not too far away. Tucked behind the house, the garden sits on a former house lot. When it came up for sale about five years ago, my friend's father jumped at the chance. Open land in Tokyo can be hard to find and expensive, but for a retired professional looking for a little spot to till in the city it was an opportunity to good to pass up. Now, it is a garden to envy. As we came through the gate rose, lily, and peony blooms greeted us with great shouts of color while rows of vegetables stood tidily at attention on the sunny center stage. Small fruit trees along with one of the biggest sansho trees I've seen yet stood quietly here and there. Near waist-high sweet corn, bushy young potato plants, cherry tomatoes, eggplants, and beans were preparing their summer fruits, while a handful of still quite luscious looking winter vegetables like komatsuna, mizuna, and kabu held one last ro