Aphid Away

Summer was due to make an appearance, and she sure did. We had about a two-week stretch of hot temperatures and no rain. I know to you poor folks out west, two weeks is, like, nothing. But to us in northeast Ohio, that’s a long time, and it meant I had long bled the rain barrels dry and had to drag out the hose. I can’t prove this for sure, but a few articles by reputable sources seem to suggest that the unfriendly aphid often makes his first appearance in hot, dry conditions. Scientifically proven or not, that was definitely the case here.

I saw the first aphid on my bolting lettuce plants. It’s not uncommon for an aphid clan to attack an out-of-season plant because, by nature, plants that are past their prime are … past their prime and not as strong or robust. Since I’m really just waiting for the lettuce to go to seed, not eating the leaves, I wasn’t too worried.  It was a group of dark-colored aphids, so they were easy enough to see, and I just kept a close eye on the neighboring plants to make sure there wasn’t an aphid exodus to neighboring veggies.

But I started to get a little itchy when I came back from being away and saw a new kind of aphid on my Brussels sprouts with white, almost translucent, bodies. Be forewarned, the pictures might make you feel all kinds of oogie:

Continue reading


Don’t Forget the Crumpets and Jam: How to Make Compost Tea

I was able to sift another batch of compost from one of my tumblers, and while most of it went back into the Three Sisters bed and the former potato bed, I thought I’d reserve a bit and give a recipe on how to make compost tea a try. I once thought compost tea was some kind of super complicated, labor intensive recipe but turns out that when you’re trying to figure out how to make compost tea, it’s just mixing some compost and water. Who knew?

Here’s what you need:

  • some compost (store bought or homemade)
  • a container with a lid
  • water

I reviewed a couple of recipes for how to make compost tea, and most said to use something like a “shovelful” of compost. I don’t know how much that is, but I had an empty gallon pot handy, so I filled that halfway full and used that as my measuring cup.

how to make compost teaDump the compost into a five-gallon bucket or other big container:

how to make compost teaAdd some water:

how to make compost tea

Snap on a lid, set in a sunny spot and let it sit for a few days.

how to make compost teaNow, some folks will tell you to add sugar or molasses. Some folks will tell you to add seaweed. Some folks will tell you to add fish emulsion. Some folks will tell you to aerate it.  Sure! Why not? Go for it. All good stuff. But I’m taking shortcuts.

Case in point: Most of the directions said to strain off the solids and then pour the liquid compost around base of the plant, but it seems silly to me to go that extra step, so I’m just going to dump the compost tea in my watering can, compost and all.  By my calculations, it should be ready by Tuesday. Now you know how to make compost tea, so go enjoy a nice cuppa.


Mon Petit Choux

Everything came to a head this week (cabbage pun!).

My Early Golden Acre cabbage heads are starting to firm up, a sign that they’re ready to be harvested. They aren’t huge, about the size of a large grapefruit, but ‘They’ say that it’s not the size of the head, but how firm it is. (It’s too easy. I’ll refrain.)

Out of the six cabbages I planted, two are clearly ready to come out. But two cabbages is a lot of cabbages for a two-person household. That’s, like, one cabbage a person. Too much tuna.

So, I took one, and am hoping the other holds until this weekend. But, back to business. Here’s what the chosen one looked like:

when to harvest cabbage

Continue reading