Though Sydney doesn’t have a stereotypical winter (ice, snow and denuded trees), there are still seasonal changes that can be observed by the ever-watchful gardener. Now it is spring. I know this because of the obvious: the flowering fruit trees are blooming, the possums in the roof are getting frisky, the horseradish is going crazy and the grass is growing again.
Then there’s the incontrovertible evidence – aphids.
In winter I only had to deal with possums, bandicoots and birds. Spring brings back the insects into my garden. One day I found a few aphids on my peas. I got out my handy home-made aphid spray (in a spray bottle I have a brew with a lot of water, a few drips of vegetable oil, a couple of drips of dish soap, a squashed garlic and a couple of chillies) and gave it a good coating.
The next day the aphids were scarce on the peas but had overrun 2 kohlrabi plants. I am not joking when I say this invasion came in less than 24 hours.
The kohlrabi is too old to be good for anything but chicken feed. It didn’t bulb properly and we’ve just been harvesting it to feed the girls. So I’m not overly distressed by the aphids attacking it per se, but it doesn’t bode well for this season. How am I going to keep these kinds of swarms under control?
These plant had to go before that whole garden bed was infested. There are a few aphids on neighbouring plants, but nothing like this. I’ve sprayed them with my home-made concoction and hope that suppresses the worst of it.
I pulled up the 2 plants and carefully carried them to the chook run. The chickens came in hot on my heels. They are always glad to stop free ranging if I’m providing a special treat. Kohlrabi is a special treat. But what about the aphids?
It took a while for the hens to find the aphids – I kept pointing but they were keen on eating the outside big leaves. Finally Isabel ripped off an infested piece of leaf (I’m sure on accident). She spat it out and studied it for a moment then tried to eat the aphids. She went back for more – clearly liking this new (high in protein?) food. Unfortunately when I left their run, all 3 chickens followed me leaving the aphids alone.
I tried to entice them with another infested leaf. Rosie absolutely does not like aphids. Isabel still does, though there was a lot of head shaking after each bite (I suppose they wiggle). Bronwyn seems undecided. If she learns to like them, the aphids don’t stand a chance against our little glutton.
Coming soon to a Brassica near you… the cabbage moth and its caterpillar offspring. Gardeners, En Garde!