Saturday, 21 May 2011

Balcony battle

Today felt like a perfect summer day!

Without an alarm clock I got up at nine, which is a feat for me. The mission, after some shuffling around the apartment, amazed at how early it was, was to go shopping for plants. About a week ago I realized, that my dear forget-me-nots were infested with aphids. First I just thought it was disgusting. Then I realized they were harming the plant. Then I realized that they will probably spread to all of our balcony plants.

After trawling around the internet for advice, I decided on my first plan of aphid-attack: I combined 100ml vegetable oil and a teaspoon of dish washing liquid (organic) and added one teaspoon to every cup of water I filled my spray bottle with. When an aphid gets sprayed with this, he should be suffocated: the soap breaks up the oil, which then makes the water stick. This helped a little bit, when there were hoards of bugs and they were easy to see. Then I trimmed the forget-me-nots, in hopes of getting rid of the badly affected leaves. After a few days of hunting aphids with a spray bottle, I realized I was never going to get rid of them all like this. More googling suggested that there are herbs and flowers with scents that repel aphids: sage, spearmint, coriander, anise, chives, radishes, tagetes and petunias, for instance. I also found mentions of tomato plants repelling aphids, and then entries about aphid-infested tomatoes.

So today my mission was to go to the Boxhagener Platz farmer's market to shop for plants. I found mini-tomatoes for the balcony (€2 each) and I bought orange tagetes (€0,60/each) and something that looks like a nettle with white rimmed leaves, that the saleswoman said gets rid of aphids. After a gözleme at Boxi and a Milchkaffee at Intimes (Boxhagener Strasse 107) with A, I headed home to pot the plants and clean the balcony. I trimmed the forget-me-nots until they were practically bald. We also bought a bright yellow plastic cup at the Euro store, because aphids love yellow, and if I fill it with water there's apparently a chance they're stupid enough to just kill themselves.

I'm terribly excited to see if any of the tricks work. Finger's crossed the aphids don't eat all our sweet peas or kill our courgette plants by next week!

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