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This week I finished my research of aphid control.  The focus of my research was to use fundamental aspects, including concepts of natural control of aphids as related to weeds, the various natural enemies used in their control, the nature of the control exerted and the risks associated with consumption of the plant after use of extracts.  We have now begun implementing the use of ladybugs, companion and repelling planting in the POD. We first started with introducing ladybugs over a weeks time. 100ca. Ladybugs (in groups of 10, 30, 50, 10) were released into the POD. We’ve noticed a high mortality rate in the ladybugs, today’s count was 6 remain. The use of a sweet nectar for feeding the ladybugs resulted in a fungus and the aphids populations are thriving on infected plants. Friday we introduced both companion and repelling planting by introducing Chives which is both a companion plant for lettuce and a repelling plant for aphids. 17 chive plants are now spread throughout the POD.  We also introduced Dill (6 plants) and Peppermint (10 plants) which are both suppose to repel aphids. In my research there are a dozen plants that repel aphids, 3 of which are also companion plants for lettuce. The 3 plants introduced were chosen randomly as a matter of conveyance.  Today we need to get another round of seeds started so with this group I’m going to be starting the companion/repel planting in the group. I’ll use 10 spots on each plank for Chives.

The saltwater system is still dormant. I fed it 1 gram of ground fish food in addition to the flake with no change to the system. Water tests are showing no nitrates, last week we did have 2 days with a positive test result, in a normal (good) range but it seems that that was more likely the results of contamination then nitrates actually being present in the system. Nitrates are a part of nature in the ocean, and should correspondingly be in our tank. As wastes breaks down in our aquarium, it cycles from ammonia to nitrite to nitrate. Ammonia and nitrite are highly toxic to marine life, and at this point our tank test zero for both. However, nitrates aren’t as bad and sometimes even a bit beneficial for the system. So, why can’t we produce nitrates in our system? I suggested additional water test to figure this out. Currently we’re not testing for Alkalinity or Phosphates, both are important tests for this type of system. Also tap water is the primary source of water which introduces many other chemicals into the system and additional tests for them may also help. I also suggested switching to a purified water instead of the tap.

Wendy Chapman

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