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Indoor Garden Pests
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Your Aerogarden may become infested with indoor garden pests, much like any other indoor plant.
However, you're growing things to eat here and so chemicals are a definite no - even if you use them outdoors, you don't want to be using them in your home.
Your Aerogarden will very likely be in your kitchen and so you'll need to be really careful as to what you select to combat the pests.
How to detect indoor garden pests
Much like outdoors, you'll see signs of infestation.
White threads on or between leaves.
Tiny grey, black or green specks on stems or underneath leaves.
Sticky substance on the surface of leaves or the grow deck itself.
You may even see tiny flies in the vicinity of the plants themselves.
The first thing to do is make sure you've got an infestation
Lift the grow light so you can get a really good look at the plants.
Get a magnifying glass so you can see if there's anything moving.
If you can see indoor garden pests, then you know you've got to do something about it. It doesn't matter a great deal on identifying them - most respond to the same treatment.
How to prevent indoor garden pests
They can arrive on clothing, other plants in the house or produce you bring in.
If you've been gardening and you have an infestation outside, brush your clothing down well and wash your hands thoroughly before you go inside and especially near the Aerogarden.
Check the produce you bring indoors for infestation - in the middle of summer, I have often picked up green leaved vegetables from market stalls and seen a cloud of aphid type insects.
You can use fly catchers to prevent the insects getting a hold. These are essentially sticky papers that the flies stick to! Examples below - UK and US availability.
These sticky papers work by catching the flies as they come to lay their eggs - no eggs, no babies :-)
The bright yellow color is attractive to most insects (a good tip if you don't like being bothered by stinging insects outdoors is to avoid wearing yellow and avoid planting yellow flowers near your sitting area) and so they make a 'beeline' for it (pardon the pun) They stick to the paper and that's the end of them.
Throw them away when they're full - they've done their job and kept your plants bug free, so don't begrudge the few bucks you've spent on them. It means you won't have to go through all the rigmarole of dealing with the bugs and perhaps losing the crop you've been carefully tending to.
What you do will depend on the size of the plants when you first see the pests.
If the plants are small and there are no flowers or fruits set, then treat as follows:
Unplug the Aerogarden.
Remove the bowl from the base. Empty the water out.
Carefully lift each pod out.
Turn the plant upside down and run the cold water faucet very gently over the underside of the leaves and stems. This will rinse off as many insects as possible.
Clean the Aerogarden thoroughly with disinfectant and the surfaces surrounding.
Refill with water and nutrient.
Check the plants again before you return them in case you've disturbed any bugs whilst cleaning.
Refill with water and nutrients. Reset the light timer.
Return the seed pods.
Treat any houseplants with an insecticidal soap to ensure that they do not re-infest the Aerogarden plants.
If the plants are larger or have set flowers or fruits then treat as follows:
Unplug the Aerogarden.
Remove the bowl from the base and empty the water out.
Prune out heavily infested leaves and stems. Put the cuttings into a bag, seal it and dispose of them away from any other plants.
Apply an insecticidal soap - you can make your own (recipe below) or buy one according to your ethics. Make sure it's safe for vegetables and herbs. Spray it all over the plants, paying particular attention to the undersides of the leaves and where the leaf and stem join.
Clean and refill the Aerogarden as for the smaller plants.
DO NOT apply the soap whilst the plants are in the Aerogarden. The bulb may shatter if the spray hits it and you'll not only have to replace the bulb but have glass shards all over the plants and they'll be useless.
Apply the soap to all your house plants to ensure that they don't re-infest your Aerogarden plants.
Apply every week to treat newly hatched pests - Aerogarden AND house plants. This may be up to four times depending on the life cycle of the pests you've got.
Continue to monitor and repeat the treatment at the first sign of infestation.
Recipe for Insecticidal Soap for Indoor Garden Pests
It's very simple to make - you need to use natural soap, Liquid Castile is the best. If you can get peppermint Castile soap, then use that, if not, then add five drops of peppermint essential oil to the mixture.
Don't use anything other than natural soap - no detergents - it is the fatty acids in animal fat or vegetable oil which are the active ingredients.
5 tablespoons liquid castile
1 gallon of tap water
Put this into a spray bottle and give it a good shake before using it.
Spray on the plants, making sure you get underneath the leaves. Repeat weekly until the pests have gone.
Treat all the plants in your house if you have an infestation as a precautionary measure.
If you want to make a smaller quantity, then one heavy tablespoon (so a quarter more) to one quart of water.