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Saturday, April 6, 2013

Aphids and Worms

Video of Worm Cocoons Hatching

Fortunately, I had several plants winter over, including cabbage parsley, beets, sage, strawberries, garlic, chives, and onions.

Unfortunately, my onion, chives, and garlic on one bed became infested with little black aphids. Interestingly enough, the chives and onions in other beds on the other side of the greenhouse (3-4 feet away) were not affected at all.

Chives, garlic, and onions are supposed to protect other plants from aphids. But apparently there's a type of the little bugs that is adapted to love what other aphids despise. Which is entirely unfair, in my opinion.

After trying for a few days to hose the bugs off in place and applying organic sprays, the black bugs were still thick on the plants. So I decided I had to rip the affected plants out of my grow beds and start over. I figured with luck I would be able to salvage to add to a dinner dish, at least.

It turned out that when I had the plants completely out of the grow bed, it was possible to hose them down really well. All the little black things are gone. So while that would have been good enough for me for adding yummy bits to dinner, I thought maybe I'd give the plants another change to continue growing in the beds. I particularly wanted to save the chives, which had formed a large patch, and which we love to add to dishes.

During the ripping out and re-installing the plants, I found a lot of worms. Like, whoa, a lot of worms. And there were a lot of little tiny ones as well. From time to time I'd also come across these little elongated globules. Unsure what they were, I had flicked a couple of them out into my yard.

Then it hit me. They are worm cocoons! I made sure to leave all the other ones I was finding alone.

Looking it up tonight, I see that worms tend to massively increase population when the weather warms up. So you'll get a lot of cocoons and baby worms either in the spring or in the fall if you bring your worm bins inside. Worms continue reproducing throughout the warm season, of course, but since I don't usually go looking for them, I'd never seen enough cocoons in real life to realize what I was looking at.

Trying to find out more about composting worm cocoons, I stumbled across the video above that shows itty worms hatching out of their cocoon. Apparently you can have anywhere from one to six little worms per cocoon. Pretty cool!

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