Part of the process of trying to grow vegetables in the winter is dealing with limited sun, limited warmth and pretty much non-optimal growing conditions for almost everything you could possibly want to grow. That being said, we have become pretty expectant of some fresh Hook Mountain Growers lettuce whenever we want in the winter. The only problem is that with little plants that are not in the happiest growing conditions....they are more prone to pest infestation. Now don’t get me wrong, these little guys are being grown in a greenhouse that never drops below 46 degrees. They are not exactly Navy Seals trained to survive in the harshest conditions. They live quite a pampered life, however even their charmed existence is not enough to stave off the occasional mega-aphid infestation that occasionally occurs on naturally grown produce and is an always present nuisance for greenhouse-grown produce.
Our lettuces were not spared this insult. The infestation was complete. The options were discussed. Consider the plants lost. A trial of Neem organic spray. Prayer. Anger. Cursing. After considering all options, we decided a trial of Natures infantry to suppress these little aphid intruders.
The shipment arrived last Thursday from Hirt's Garden Supply. Upon opening the box, the warrior’s looked ready. Angry, aggressive and roaring to eat. OK, they were just ladybugs. Not the most dangerous of names but definitely voracious eaters of garden pests. We ordered 1500 ladybugs for about 9 dollars. We released them during the evening hours to minimize stress to the the ladybug, as we were instructed. Some were poured over the lettuces, some were left in the open container and some were sprinkled around the periphery to ensure border control and prevent the aphids from escaping or sending for reinforcements.
I can tell you the results would please the most demanding of Generals. Complete enemy annihilation. Survivors were spared no mercy. Our lettuces our safe.
OK, enough war jargon. This has been an eye-opening experiment. For less than the cost of an organic spray, we have provided a most natural solution to our problem. Not only do we now have ladybugs in the greenhouse which will continue to eliminate insects, we have rid ourselves of the aphids without the hassle of little dead aphid corpses to deal with when we wash the lettuces. Seems almost ridiculous to try any other method. But so does most of what conventional big agriculture does anyway....
SO, with just a little thought...problem solved. Off to eat fresh lettuces in February...
Charlie, Wheel Barrel Operator