Monday, November 26, 2012

Vacuuming the Garden

Yep you read right. Vacuuming.

This morning I got the vacuum cleaner out and vacuumed my parsley and beans. 

Now before you go thinking I'm completely bonkers let me tell you I don't usually use the vacuum cleaner on the garden. In fact I don't even use the vacuum cleaner in the house as much as I should. But you see I have a problem with whitefly.

It started last year on my beans in the back corner. Over winter they all went quiet but with the warmer weather those teeny whiteflies are back in their swarms and taking over my veggie patches. If I run my hand over my parsley great swarms of them fly up to my face making me cough and splutter and get rather cranky. And apparently they're not harmless little pests - they're sucking the sap right out of my veggies and making them less vigorous. They can spread diseases from plant to plant. And they multiply like mad.

Oooh they're a problem.

So I turned to my favourite friend the google and discovered one of the remedies is to get out there early in the morning with one of those little vacuum cleaners and suck them up when they're all sleepy. So that's what I did. Except we don't have one of those little hand held vacuum cleaners only a normal one. And I didn't do it first thing in the morning because I have children to make lunches for and ensure they have clean underpants on and pets to feed and hair to wash... So it was morning, but not first thing. And those little whiteflies didn't look all that sleepy to me. I'm not sure how many I managed to suck up. And I'm not entirely sure this remedy will do any good at all. But I'm willing to give it a go for a week in the patch closest to my back door and the power outlet.
You can't see them but there are masses of nasty little white fly under those parsley leaves

I'm also going to get out the eco oil and and spray it on the underside of the leaves in that patch. It'll be my little experiment for the week to see if the numbers reduce there. And if I have success I'll be getting the extension cord out and vacuuming right up the back. Earlier in the morning - maybe before I've showered while still in my dressing gown. Gee I hope the neighbours don't wonder what I'm up to and peep through the fence.

Apparently lacewings and ladybirds and birds are natural predators. So I'm encouraging those in my own way - whenever I see a ladybird I get all excited and say "oh goodoo a ladybird. Come on eat up little ladybird". 

The whiteflies are also attracted to the colour yellow so hanging sticky yellow traps above your plants might work - but I don't think that'd have much impact when they're in great swarms like I have. Neem oil also apparently works at the nymph stage.

Anyone else tried the vacuum cleaner trick or have other ideas? What's worked for you?


  1. Not sure, but we washed the front of our house on the weekend, yeah, washed dorks out there with rags and soapy water....and a fabulous brush on a stick contraption...up the ladder...neighbours thought we were crackers...but man is my front of the house clean...looks like we just painted it.....
    I once vacumned outside cos I couldnt be bothered sweeping............good luck with those pesky , in ya face flies...

  2. I don't think you're bonkers at all! A few months back I vacuumed my mandarin tree to rid it of stink bugs. I noticed yesterday that more have hatched, so I'll be out there some time today for another bit of garden housework.

    Have you thought about a garlic or chilli spray?

  3. Believe it or not I haven't vacuumed any plants, but if it works why not.

  4. Umm! I think that might be one of the craziest things you have blogged about. There should be a blog award for 'crazy'. You make me look down-right sane, in fact. But, I must admit, I do see some logic in it. But then I am certifiable.

  5. VG you get more "ingenious" by the day, but there's a problem here that I'd like you to consider: if you vacuum-up the Whiteflies, what happens to them then? Presumably the flies don't die in the process? And presumably you bring the vacuum cleaner indoors. Do any of the flies escape, ready to infest your indoor rooms, or houseplants?
    P.S. have you cleared this process with Mr.P.? He might not approve you know! :)

  6. I think this is a magic idea. I have them on my mint and you have me inspired. I think maybe putting an old pair of pantyhose over the nozzle to catch them in so they do not escape.

  7. I like it, I like it a lot. I didn't think i had many white fly in the garden until I went out this morning and as soon a i turned on the hose and this swarm flew into the air. I may need to invest in an extension cord....

  8. I love this idea! Imagine - what the white fly were thinking when confronted by the 'suck'? I have two mthods - go out ther and give the plants a good and regular shake - just to anoy them, and I do use those yellow glue traps. if you have lots of white fly you go thru lots of glue traps.

  9. mmmm interesting, but I would suggest emptying the vacuum into a bag, sealing it well, and then putting it straight into the bin. I will wait to see how your experiment goes before rushing outdoor with my vacuum.

  10. You know, I actually suggested this to my partner and he looked at me as if I was mad. But now I might try it.
    BTW I LOVED your stories about Mr P. I think we have his twinliving at the end of our road. He's Italian and sayd exactly the same things "pull it out! It no grow!" and "too close together" while sticking his finger in the soil and making little moats for all the veggies. And, since he's been visiting us, all our veggies have grown thrwee times bigger!

  11. Sounds like a logical idea to me. Hope it works! cheers Wendy

  12. Wow what an idea! I need an extension cord!

  13. I have the most insane plague of whiteflies this year (I'm in inner North Melbourne). I have never come across anything like it. They have sucked the sap out of all my seedlings so my toms and caps and chillis and potatoes are all on death's doorstep. I *hate* them. I have upgraded to Pyrethrum (sp?) because nothing else has worked, and it still doesn't keep them away for more than 24 hours. I think they are spreading leaf curl, or some other disease I'm struggling to identify.
    Is this an exceptionally bad year for you too? I've no idea what to do now that vacuuming hasn't worked for you.

    Ellen (not a blogger so no profile sorry)


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