June 15, 2011

According to John: Save Beneficial Aphids!

Many gardeners don’t realize that aphids can be beneficial. John & Bob’s concept is that successful gardening is best achieved by working with natural systems. Aphids attract beneficial predators to the garden, where they eat not only the aphid, but other harmful bugs. Minor aphid infestations are actually desirable because they function as appetizers that draw beneficial insects to the garden. Don’t aim for an aphid-free garden. However, major infestations are very debilitating, messy and undesirable. Vegetables should be monitored closely because large aphid infestations can quickly threaten their life span and bearing capacity. Blasts of water are the first, best treatment with every other day monitoring and possible re-treatment. I also use my own concoction of botanical oils, but my goal is not complete eradication. Rather, my goal is to manage and minimize infestations, in order to encourage beneficial insect populations.

Natural systems that control destructive aphid and other pests and disease include not only beneficial insects, but also beneficial soil life. The complex interactions in the soil between bacteria, fungi, protozoa and good nematodes are powerful; they directly impact the presence or absence of pests and disease. As soil microscopes have improved over recent years, more and more is known about how good fungi destroy and discourage destructive fungus like Pithium in cool season turf and how good nematodes lasso and eat bad nematodes. Life in the soil directly impacts the health of our plants and impacts the presence of pests, such as aphids, which are seemingly unrelated to soil. One of my favorite experiments illustrating this was done by a friend of mine. He germinated radishes in two separate growing mediums; earthworm castings full of life and an inert soil composed of sand and wood fines. He introduced beetles to both environments and they walked all over and ate the radishes with inert soil and they also walked all over, but did not damage the plants at all which were growing in the earth worm castings. Rich, complex soil life works in many different ways to stop or prevent pests and disease. John & Bob’s Grow Green Smart Soil Solutions, featuring OPTIMIZE, MAXIMIZE, PENETRATE and NOURISH Biosol, were formulated to build rich, complex soil life. Our products promote natural, intertwined systems below the ground and above the ground. Aphids are a part of this natural system and that’s probably the nicest thing anyone has ever said about this pesky garden annoyance.