Good Gardening: Spraying Pests

Jun 1, 2015

Spring started early this year. That's been good for your salad bowl, and tomato prospects, but there is a downside to early onset warm weather syndrome.

Credit John Fischer

Summer pests have become spring pests.
The flitty cabbage butterflies are out and about, the leafminers are munching away, and  the brocolli brutalizing aphids are already out in full force. I found aphids on Kale in January this year.
Let's start out with the easy fix. When you see little green worms munching on your cruciferous plants- cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower- spray BT. Bacillus thuringiensis makes the worms sick, and they die. It takes a little while, but BT is organic, and effects only the crawly worms that eat the same things that you want.

Credit John Fischer

Spinosad is an organic, bacterially derived, pesticide that kills leaf miners and other garden pests. Be careful, if sprayed directly on a honeybee, it can kill them too. Spray for leaf miners in the morning before the bees are out. A bee WALKING on a leaf sprayed with spinosad will not be hurt by the residue.
The summer, spring, and now winter aphids are easy to control with Safers Soap. It's a long used organic pesticide that must be sprayed directly on the aphids to be effective. The earlier you start spraying, the easier it will be to keep the aphids under control.
When using any pesticide- organic or not- always follow the directions. A little hand held, half pint, spray bottle will be sufficient for the home gardener. Rinsing your vegetables before you eat them makes sense, but all the remedies I've listed could be eaten with no ill effects.
I don't spray often. One of the beauties of organic pest control is that it is often a reactive remedy. For many problems you don't spray until the problem appears.
Some of your vegetables will still get bugs. Friends always joke that the aphids are just extra protein. I don't eat broccoli with aphids on it. I separate the leaf miner infested beet greens from the pristine beet greens.
Produce with holes where bugs have been eating is fine, but few things will turn a child away from vegetables more quickly than finding a cooked worm on the cooked broccoli.