Getting Aphids off your Greens

Some of you have written to us about about aphids on your greens.  It is true — we have a lot of aphids this year, all over the farm, and especially on the leafy greens.  These unappetizing, sap sucking insects have been doing a lot of damage to our young plants.  Aphids have a lot of natural enemies — ladybugs, hoverflies, parasitic wasps, lacewings and others.  But the aphids are more comfortable in cold weather than most of their natural enemies, so until the weather warms up (which it may do this week) we will probably continue to see them in our fields.

We have tried to pick only the parts of the field with fewer aphids, and our beneficial populations are always boosted by flowers along field edges.  Additionally, we have been trying to control the aphids with a garlic-clove oil spray and cedar sprays (using the oil from cedar trees) on a weekly basis, and we have released some green lacewing larvae to eat them up, but despite our efforts, you may find some of the little bugs on your spinach or bunched greens. You can wash them off, but it may take a bit of extra time.  They don’t come off with a simple rinse in water because they adhere to the surface of the plants.  So you have to swish them around in cold water that has a pinch of salt (or a drop of soap) in it. The  salt or soap act to reduce the surface tension between the aphids and the leaf.  Leave the greens in the cold water for a few minutes, swish them around, drain and rinse the greens.