The joys of garden pests: crappy home-made organic aphids spray, my murderous propensities, and harvesting baby spinach leaves

First off, I would like to rant about the most pressing matter:

I have been eating insect (leaf miners) larvae and eggs!! Ahhhhhhh! Oh well, apparently on average we all consume a couple of small spiders every night in our sleeps (that’s why no one can be truly vegan. Also, I’ve always wondered how nutritional yeast flakes, YEAST – living microorganisms – can be considered a vegan staple).

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Actually, I probably already unknowingly consume quite a number of aphids and aphid eggs that have been attempting to siphon all the life and beauty out of my lettuces. But the realization that I may have been eating larvae buried inside my spinach leaf still make my stomach churn, or churn and twist even more than it already has been today (currently have a funny tummy – possibly the bug-infested spinach leaf)

See the small white lines on the (baby-ish) spinach leaves? They are caused by the larvae of leaf miners, which, as their name suggest, burrow through, ‘mine’ and eat the inside of your vegetable leaves.

Something along this line (no pun intended!)

Another thing I’ve been doing wrong with my baby spinach other than eating leaves with insect larvae in them that I’d like to share so you won’t be making the same mistakes is, the correct way you should be harvesting your baby spinach (a few basic tips)

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*See the infestation of the leaf miners? (shivers) I had thought they were just simply caused by excessive sun exposure*

The correct way to harvest baby spinach:

1. Baby spinach is basically the small-leaved variety of normal spinach – I keep forgetting this point. And as a result, I let my spinach leaves mature before picking them (used to the method of harvesting lettuces and other plants) when what you should be doing is picking off the young leaves as soon as they grow out (around 1 and a half to 2 inches long). No need for sympathy, growing vegetables is not suitable for the faint-hearted.

If you want soft salad leaves that can be eaten raw, you must pick the young leaves that have not accumulated much oxalic acid (oxalate – the toxin present in some amounts in spinach which is what makes them best eaten cooked).

2. Harvest from the outer edges of the plant – Never pick leaves from the centre. For some reason which I haven’t looked/researched into, picking leaves from the centre will inhibit the growth of the spinach (have had personal experience from last year’s crop – would not grow large, or outwards at all).

And before we delve further into my wrath concerning insect pests that’s been wrecking my beautiful plants – a nice breaker:

About…

fair trade bananas

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I’m relatively new to them, only just started buying some a few months earlier. They are at least a dollar or two more expensive than normal ‘dole’ bobby bananas. But (not sure if it is just the positive nature of the brand ‘fair trade’ affecting my psychological response, and somehow altering my taste receptors) I swear, these fair trade bananas are much better tasting than the ‘dole’ non fair trade bananas i.e. firmer, and definitely scarily huge.

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(trying to compare with a medium-sized apple) This picture doesn’t exemplify the size of the banana much, but it was truly huge. Double the size of your ‘typical’ banana. And it tasted yum (not mushy and bruised on the inside as non-fair trade bananas usually are)

Another thing I really like about this fair trade banana brand is the fact that it’s named ‘fair-nando’ hahahahhaha! (logo a picture of a banana wearing a Mexican-looking hat)

(not that funny, but quite catchy and has the potential to conjure up consumer loyalty due to the appealing and memorable logo, as a result obtain larger and more regular market).

Personally, I don’t know much about the actual workings behind ‘fair trade’ goods i.e. bananas, but I guess workers are paid more, thus slightly higher price *but how taste better??* Still, I shall (blindly) support this cause.

NOW, onto about my super crappy home-made organic aphid spray and why I’m feeling slightly murderous:

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APHIDS!!!!! Those bastards sucking the living sap out of my pretty pansies!

And by the time that picture was taken, I had already been using this organic garlic oil spray on these aphids for the past 2 days.

recipe here: http://organicgardening.about.com/od/pestcontrol/a/spraysforaphids.htm

which have not been working! Even when I drench the flowers in the garlicky smelling water. The sulphurous compounds present in the juice extracted from garlic (I minced 3 cloves of garlic and let it sit in water for 24 hours) were supposed to repel and even perhaps ‘kill’ the aphids. One may argue that this spray mixture have not worked because it is too diluted (I’ve upped the concentration by 1 tbsp *previously 2 tbsp garlic-oil-dish washing liquid mixture to 400 ml water), however, even with this concentrated version, the aphids still survive!!

I’ve also witnessed some ants assisting these aphids… (ants eats aphids’ honeydew or their excretion, and so protects them from predators i.e. ladybugs. Ants – the ultimate agronomists).

I will continue in my efforts in repelling these aphids with the crappy garlic oil spray (perhaps because I’d used normal cooking oil instead of mineral oil?? However, some garlic spray recipes don’t even include oil i.e. the garlic and cayenne pepper one), and maybe increase the regularity of spraying the plants to every 3 hours so the aphids don’t climb back after the smell(or more the sulphurous compounds) subsides.

*This spray is actually really strong; once when I was spraying the pot plant and the wind changed direction, I had to scrunch my face up in discomfort as the strong garlicky-dish washing soap mix went up my nose*

Being brought up a Buddhist, I never thought I would venture out to produce spray that actually kills something. I never had murderous wishes against any bug ever (only bugs haha), and never killed any on purpose (it’s hard to believe I know), but the congestion of these aphids on my young plants have prompted my murderous tendencies and intentions!

Poor aphids. If only they would reproduce less, then their lives would not be wasted in this disturbed ecosystem of ours. Maybe I’m being selfish and totally one sided.

Was it really the aphids fault? Or is it our own greed to have more (i.e. plants, vegetables) that is the core of this tragedy? One never knows.

6 thoughts on “The joys of garden pests: crappy home-made organic aphids spray, my murderous propensities, and harvesting baby spinach leaves”

  1. Well done though on making your own organic spray! But yeah I know the feeling, I’ve had to spray my plants once and I really winced..

    1. Did you buy a store bought spray? (That was such a weird sentence) what was in it? 🙂 I’m curious to know. I think the spray is slowly working. I just need to keep spraying and often. Apparently, according to my older lady friend the aphids were dying, as seen in the little white shriveled up looking insects. Apparently, that’s what dead aphids look like!

  2. I know what you mean when you say gardening is not for the faint hearted. I have been trying some greens in my garden and I let them overgrow sometimes , just thinking ” Oh look they look so nice and green , how can anyone eat them “….then..i’ll think REALLY…all you wanted to do was to eat them …c’mon 🙂 Ha ha….

    1. I know right? When you actually see the vegetable plants growing in front of you, you can’t help but not wanting to damage them. And they look really disparaged once you’ve cut leaves from them. Good thing they grow back super fast, at least with my lettuce. Also, it’s hard to avoid killing insects 🙁 I accidentally squashed a caterpillar while harvesting broccoli yesterday 🙁 what greens have you got? I’m sure spinach will grow well during colder climatic seasons 🙂

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