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There seem to be aphids? (little green bugs, flying gnats and white egg like things) on my lettuce plants - I think it might be aphids in various stages of lifecycle?

I've sprayed with a combo of garlic, mineral oil and water - which has the effect of making the whole garden smell of garlic but doesn't seem to be elimnating them.

I can't find ladybugs in the city, I think they'd do the trick and last year I got ladybugs by mail order but we got a heat wave during the two days they shipped and most arrived dead.

Ideas suggestions?

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Never give up! I've used Neem as a last resort with decent results against aphids.
Is that organic? Okay to use on food plants?

michael said:
Never give up! I've used Neem as a last resort with decent results against aphids.

I had a ton of aphids on my collards and kale. After trying 'gentler' remedies, I picked as much as I could (blasted off the aphids with the water hose and ate the collards anyways!), then sprayed a Neem mix regularly for the next week. all but a few plants were aphid free after wards.

Hope this helps!

Jacqueline Church said:
Is that organic? Okay to use on food plants?

michael said:
Never give up! I've used Neem as a last resort with decent results against aphids.
Its my understanding that even organic soaps and pesticides are not compatible with "friendly insects" so you need to choose a method and not get ladybugs and spray neem, for instance, at the same time. Also, you might just try plain old liquid castille soap. The bugs, while upping the ick factor in organIC, don't always warrant an all out war. I lost a kale and collards crop to aphids as well and Micheals advice sounds right on. (aphids on brussels sprouts- its all over)
I have some aphids on my lettuce but I just wash the lettuce a couple of times before eating. I have had major infestations of aphids in the past and have had to pull up my crops and start over. One bit of advice that I have found helpful with bugs is that they attack unhealthy plants. The stronger the plant the better able to withstand and repel invasion.
The health of a plant starts with the roots and your soil. If you bought seedlings from a nursery, that may be the root of your troubles. The shock of transplant can weaken a plant. I have given up on nursery seedlings and now grow everything from seed. I start lettuce in a 4" deep tray and transplant the seedlings into the bed. Someone told me that if a plant dies after getting it home from a nursery it isn't my fault. Plants are often sold when the nutrient level in their soil is peaking. Often the seedling has stayed too long in a small pot and its roots are suffering.
I find it useful to know when to hold em and when to fold em. Fighting a loosing battle can be really discouraging. Sometimes you need to learn a lesson and start over, examining your practice to see where in the chain of gardening your plants may have weakened.
Since lettuce is a fast growing crop I wouldn't consider starting over as giving up. I follow biointensive gardening rules about soil structure, making sure I have about 18 to 24" of loosely worked (by hand) soil. I mulch with straw and start out with Renees seeds or a trusted organic variety appropriate to the weather and location. Try a slow bolting lettuce at this time of year and plant in a cool part of your garden. My lettuce patch gets a bit of sun but is in an ally so its usually in shade. The permaculture people would recommend not planting your lettuce too close to each other and instead of having a patch, scattering individual plants around. That way if one plant is compromised the disease or bug doesn't spread. I have tried this bt personally I like biointensive practices better. I'm also very absent minded and would never remember where I planted anything that way.
Good luck. Gardening is like chess. Every lost battle is a lesson learned.Good luck!

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