Holy aphids Batman!

Bear999December 15, 2013

With the arctic freeze moving on, I went out yesterday and opened the cloches to vent them and get a closer look at the plants. What do I find on the kale? That's right...aphids! In December! Seriously? I thought aphids only stuck around during the warm weather. What are they doing munching on my plants now?

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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

You realize that a cloche helps keep the plant warm, don't you?

When it comes to aphids, there's winter aphids and summer aphids.
What are those aphids doing? Feeding to keep up their strength!

    Bookmark   December 15, 2013 at 4:46PM
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bear_with_me(8 Pacific NW)

I don't know if it will help you, but when I brought in my cymbidium orchids, the flower stems were covered with aphids. I put them in the bathtub and sprayed thoroughly with neem oil. That took care of all of the aphids.

From what I read, neem oil is safe to use on most plants.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2013 at 7:09PM
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bear_with_me(8 Pacific NW)

Nice to have vegetables this time of year!

I don't know if it will help you, but when I brought in my cymbidium orchids, the flower stems were covered with aphids. I put them in the bathtub and sprayed thoroughly with neem oil. That took care of all of the aphids.

From what I read, neem oil is safe to use on most plants.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2013 at 7:11PM
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Bear999

Hey Bear, thanks for the advice. Neem oil and I became very good friends this year, but I stopped using it after I found out my wife was pregnant. I read some articles that claimed neem oil can mess around with fetuses, especially in laboratory animals. None of it was definitive, but I figured better safe than sorry, so I stopped using it temporarily. I plan to resume using it after the baby is born.

My goal for 2013 was to go the entire year without purchasing greens from the supermarket. Unfortunately, my wife came home couple of weeks ago from the store with a bag of greens. :( She thought the week-long cold spell killed most of the plants. Oh well...I guess I'll have to try again next year!

    Bookmark   December 23, 2013 at 3:54PM
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greenmann(z7WA)

Consider the Russian Kales, no cloche needed for good winter greens here, and they will self seed if you let them, lol.

For the aphids, if your hose is hooked up you can use a strong stream of water to knock them off and take out most of them. Their predators are mostly dormant this time of year, even if the plants were out in the open, so some kind of active control is going to be necessary.

An oil made from some combination of salad oil, tobasco sauce and a little liquid soap may also work well, just remember its a contact poison so you need to go at it from underneath for it to be effective. It will wash right off the plants when you want to eat the leaves.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2013 at 4:36PM
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mikebotann(8a SE of Seattle)

Doesn't Kale handle a freeze pretty good? Take the cover off one of these nights when the temperature gets below freezing and see if the aphids die. That last cold spell should have killed the aphids with, or without, the cover.
Mike

    Bookmark   January 1, 2014 at 2:21AM
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Bear999

Greenmann, thanks for the advice. How much oil, tabasco sauce, and soap do you use to make a gallon of solution?

Mike, I'm finding out that some kale handle freezing weather better than others. My Red Russian kale did just fine with the week-long freeze back in December. My Italian kale, however, took a beating (even with the cloche). It looks like I lost about half of the Italian kale plants. :( These were all mature plants, not seedlings or young transplants.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2014 at 12:44PM
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greenmann(z7WA)

For the insecticidal soap, I kind of do it by feel, lol... a double squirt of soap, a glug of tobasco (if I use it, more often than not I don't have it, and it seems to work either way, but the recipe I was given used to so... lol), and a glug of oil. Shake well in a typical dollar store little spray bottle, and have at it. Shake vigorously every few minutes, as the oil will separate quickly.

If you want a more concrete formula, google it. It's a pretty standard "do it yourself" type insecticidal spray. Some people add vinegar or for some things, rubbing alcahol to make it a little more aggressive, but be careful to test to make sure it won't harm your plants. These can be caustic enough to harm the leaves of the plants in higher concentrations, so you may need to test it, and add a little more water if its affecting the plants too.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2014 at 3:32AM
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gernm18

Hi everyone,

The same recently happen to my indoor russian red kale, which was very happy up until that point. I basically had an overnight infestation. There were eggs under the leaves and all. The crazy thing is looking at the aphids through a magnifying glass.

The aphids showed up one morning and I decided that I would handle them right there and then. After a quick google search I did the following:

-Sprayed aphids with water
-Threw a banana peal and some old broken matches on the soil
-Also took the plant outdoors to a sunny spot in my driveway.
-I also left the plant outside over night (I figured this kale is from Siberia right?, it should handle this)
-I also ended up breaking of 2 leaves that were just FULL of aphid eggs

Well a day passed and it's still alive, but the few bigger leaves left are yellowing and the small ones don't seem that happy either. They're all "down". The aphids are gone. I have brought the plant back inside. I do have two LED 12w lights from taotronics, which did work great for my lacinato kale, and as I said the russian kale was happy until the infestation...

So my question is... any tips in getting your russian kale to recover after such an event?

    Bookmark   February 5, 2015 at 12:19PM
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Bear999

My guess is that your plant got shocked when you moved it from the inside and put it outside. It usually takes about a week to harden plants for such a move. You have to start by keeping them in a shady spot (and maybe even bringing them back inside at nights if the temps are too cold) and then slowly introducing more and more sunlight everyday. Your best bet for recovery is to keep it under lights and give it a little bit of liquid fertilizer (diluted to 1/2 strength). And keep your fingers crossed.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2015 at 10:40PM
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