“Necessity..the Mother of Invention”

Amazing what we can learn and accomplish when driven by a passion or perhaps a need.  The author of the phrase is unknown, however I’m hoping most of you can can relate.  When there is an abundance of something we often take it for granted.  It’s not until we go without, that we realize our wants vs needs.

In a short 60 days we’ve learned to grow healthy, delicious, organic (did I mention I hate that term.. perhaps a topic for a new blog post) food.  Learning how to amend soil, resist pests without pesticides, and deliver on a vision of what could be – when so much is missing.   Isn’t life often that way though?  Or perhaps even ourselves –  which are in a constant state of improvement, self critique, vision, amendment, growth, harvest, and death – which leads to new growth.  In this case death being figurative and literal – think bad habits in ourselves and a seed.  Both must die to experience new growth – and amidst this growth there is constant attack.  Our latest menace have been ants which like to harvest “honeydew” from aphids on the buds of new growth.  While I don’t mind them in the soil as they do help aerate and can facilitate in the composting process, I’m optimistic that managing them properly while difficult, is possible!

Unless you’re dealing with fire ants – which are a whole other topic AND thank the good Lord we don’t have those, we need to primarily focus on the ants harvesting aphids.  They’re pretty amazing creatures.  They will literally farm aphids on the leaves, new growth, and blossoms and “milk” honey dew from the aphids rear-end as a result of them feasting on our garden.  In our case I’ve had to find a mechanism to keep them off all our citrus trees (lime, grapefruit, tangerine, orange, and lemon), as well as peppers, guava, ti, hibiscus, and gardenia.  The bigger more developed trees have actually been quite easy as I wrap a sticky barrier around the trunk that keeps the ants from crossing (thank’s to Dan Willey’s post @ FruitMentor .  Once the ants are prevented from going up the tree and farming, the aphids are much more susceptible to natural predators like ladybugs, mantises, and the all necessary neem oil!  The trickier prevention is anything without a sturdy trunk – we’re trying coffee grounds, peppermint oil, diatomaceous earth, all with varying degrees of success.  Due to the reliability of the sticky barrier, everything now gets a wrap that is thick enough to tolerate it.

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