Sensational…..murder in the greenhouse. Who has been killed? Those pesky aphids, ants and the like, that’s who !
Controlling pests in an Aquaponics garden has to be done carefully because we want to use pest control mechanisms that are fish friendly as well as human friendly
Here is a series of helps in controlling aphids, ants and other garden pests. There is a variety of treatments but they all take time to get working. Patience is the key when using “soft” and safe control methods.
Aphids......worst little mongrels to deal with. They are usually brought into a greenhouse by poor bio-security but once established are hard to move especially in our AP environment.
Here is one treatment that helps a lot in the greenhouse and has multiple benefits. Potassium Silicate.
It adds both Potassium and Silica to your system. It will also buffer your system pH up slightly. It has more than one use.
Take a look at the PDF file avbl on this page, it is worth a read. It is very their product specific but has a couple of worthwhile sentences. Sorry, it is an Australian link but potassium silica is avbl from most good hydroponic suppliers so I am sure you will find it in the US or Europe at a close by Hydro store.
Another similar product with multi benefits is Eco-Rose ( a trade name) which is made up from food grade potassium bicarbonate. Potassium bicarbonate can be obtained fairly inexpensively from beer and wine brewing shops. This is great as a foliar spray and also helps to control powdery mildew and the like. Incidentally, a good compost tea that has been made from a compost fungally dominant will, believe it or not, help control mildew type problems in the greenhouse.
Mycotrol (or similar) is a great product and as well as using it as a spray I would spike my compost batch with it to encourage the right kind of fungal growth in the compost pile.
Also use a very weak soap (detergent spray) when applying other things to the crop like garlic and or chilli spray. The detergent helps as a surfactant in getting the garlic and or chilli around the place, sticking and spreading the mixture to the leaves. I spray this combo three times a week during summer. I have a long term problem with aphids on my citrus trees in the Aquaponics system but am gradually beating it by using these methods.
Along with the aphids are the ants, because, as you know the ants farm the aphids for their sugary excretions. So, we have to get rid of the ants to have effective aphid control. Using organic methods to control ants means it is a long term job and is much more difficult when you have aquaponic grow troughs on the ground. Ants often nest under the liner and are hard to eliminate.
If you are not an organic certified farm I would get an ant dust/granules such as Ant Rid. Sorry, it is an Aussie another product but there must be an equivalent in other parts of the world. This product is somehow attractive to the ants and they haul it back to their nests and it kills them ALL. Read the product brochure. See the active ingredient? You may opt to make up your own mixture if you have a large area or want to save some money.
Apply very carefully along where the wall of the grow trough and earth meet. It needs to be done twice a few weeks apart but works really well. It is not a permanent solution to the problem because new ants will come in and nest in a month or two so needs to be done again when you see new ants establishing themselves.
Back to Aphids......get busy and make a really good fresh compost tea to spray on the plants regularly....we all know it is good for nutrients but it also....gradually.....will deter the aphids and other pests. Pests have a hard time where there are an abundance of good bacteria, protozoa and the like in the area and that has been applied to the plants as a foliar spray. When you regularly spray with a good fungal and bacterially balanced compost tea you are teaming up with microbes......more microbes are good for the veggies.
As stated earlier, organic type treatments are not that fast acting and require persistence in ridding the greenhouse of aphids.
We have not even touched on using beneficial insects to control the bad guys. There is much more to this subject, but this short blog will prove to be helpful.
All this sounds like a lot of work.....it is, but you will beat them over time by using a combination of methods as outlined above. It gets easier as time goes by, but don’t slack off or the pests will come back in.
Some of these tips and tricks are provided by many of our very experienced Practical Aquaponics forum community members. Join and participate in the forum. It is a great resource.
Happy Aquaponic gardening
Pest control in Aquaponics systems will be high on the list of V.I P. lectures not to be missed at the February 24 - 28 , 2013 California Seminar and Workshop sessions.
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