Aphids vs. orange oil pursuit – Aphid repellent recipe

15 Feb

So it has been a few months since we first started our basement garden. We purchased two full-spectrum florescent bulbs and started growing St. John’s wort, Cinquifoil, and Wild Strawberry. At first, we had just small plans to try and grow a few small pots of herbs and nurture them until spring but since then we have done considerable in terms of ordering more medicinal seed varieties which have all been organic/pesticide free.

Indoor garden before (October 2011)

Indoor garden now (February 2012)

One morning we arose to a weakening St.John’s plant, all the leaves had been wilting. We combed the undersides of all the tiny leaves as our first possible justification to the browning was that we were over-watering. As we looked close, we saw hundreds of little white dots surrounded by what resembled thin spider’s webs, attaching these white dots to the underside of the leaves. It was a case of indoor aphids….
We had finished our harvesting for the season’s medicinals, so we created our indoor garden to produce starters, to begin root development, and experiment with germination/temperature rates for each medicinal species. Our first discovery of the Aphids was in late November, or early December which caused us to harden off our St.Johns wort planters; two large buckets that were only young branches, shooting every which way. This plant was flourishing in the indoor garden environment; the warmth of 22-25 degrees Celcius, 18-hour light cycles, consistent watering, and lots of nurturing- but the one loophole that we fell into, is an enclosed ecosystem which separates these plants from a natural system of order. The food chain is now only a small group of soil dwelling insects, and our primary producers (plants). If even ONE primary consumer happened to be on any of the plants we had brought in from outdoors, in our soil, or from the worm bin ecosystem, we would have chaos. And that we did.

White sage after light case of aphids

Last month consisted of morning scans; finding and controlling the aphids. We knew which plants they target the most, and that is the area we would check. After a short while, we read that when a food supply has been compromised, the aphids will lay eggs that will then hatch directly into flies, skipping the juvenile stage so we started to see lots of those little tiny nymph-like flies that flew in zig-zags, landing in the soil of each pot, shaking their wings off when they landed. The real problem is that aphids are asexual, allowing to reproduce without mating. Once born, within 12 days these adults can reproduce- this is the reason they have been so successful in our indoor environment, away from any predator to slow their population growth.

Small flying aphid perched on Ginger shoot (look hard around the center of the shoot)

We have tried a few remedies that seem to have them hiding or disappearing for a few days, ultimately thinning their numbers. This is the first concoction we created, orange essential oil remedy:

1 Tbsp Orange Oil extract
2 Litres of chlorine-free water
1/2 clove of garlic (crushed)
1 pinch of cayenne powder

– we then stirred all ingredients in a spray bottle, sprayed a light coating on all the affected plants, making sure we got the underside of the leaves where they liked to literally suck the life out of the plants through its phloem. This seemed to deter them for a few days, but again flourish like clockwork. We have them under control now, as the species of plants they like have been moved out-doors to harden off for the rest of the winter; things like Plantain, Catnip, Self-Heal, Wild Strawberry, Bergamot, Spinach, Sage (surprisingly), Organic Basil, and a few other soft leaved plants. Our Astragalus, Marshmallow , Cayenne peppers, Calendula, Bamboo, Tropical plants, and all our other hardier species are doing great.

nursing our medicinal babies for spring time - Astragalus, Marshmallow, White Sage, Bergamot, cayenne pepper, and Calendula

 We will post any more updates about simple home-remedies that we attempt and the results. What we spray on our plants and soil is important to us, so we are only using natural and chemical-free remedies in our garden. We are about to make a very large seed order for organic medicinal herbs and heirloom veggies for our massive summer garden we are in the works of planning. Very excited, we will post all about our seeds and where we are ordering from soon!

– A&K


6 Responses to “Aphids vs. orange oil pursuit – Aphid repellent recipe”

  1. Norbert Kahen October 8, 2012 at 10:29 am #

    St johns wort is really great. i took it for like 5 months and it really make my depression go away. “”..*

    Go look at our web page as well

  2. Diane Gerun April 22, 2013 at 12:34 pm #

    Good Morning,

    I am with the Alberta Distance Learning Centre, a K-12 school. Our Gardening 1055 teacher would like to use a photo from your blog in her course. Please let me know if that would be possible. Thanks

    • Lunar Harvest April 22, 2013 at 5:57 pm #

      Hello! You can use any photo you would like, we just ask if you could please put a photo credit with the image. Which photo were you looking at? Thank you for the interest!

  3. Margaret June 21, 2013 at 3:09 am #

    Hello there! I know this is somewhat off topic but I was wondering if you knew where I
    could get a captcha plugin for my comment form?
    I’m using the same blog platform as yours and I’m having difficulty finding one?
    Thanks a lot!

    • Lunar Harvest June 26, 2013 at 1:40 pm #

      hmm, no I don’t, sorry! I don’t have much experience with plugins but I wish you luck with setting that up!


  1. Our 2012 Medicinal and Vegetable Gardens summary Part 1 « LunarHarvest - January 6, 2013

    […] indoor garden we made last winter and blogged about, started off the […]

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