We all make mistakes. It is part of life. This past spring, not long after setting up my first Rise Garden, I made the mistake of bringing in a plant from outside without inspecting it. I bought a strawberry plant from a local farm. This plant had been outside, dug up, put into a gardening container, and placed for sale at a farmer’s market. I bought one, happy to have a great-looking, mature plant to place in my yard. 

I got home from the farmers’ market and realized I didn’t know exactly where to put my strawberry patch, so I decided to place this small strawberry plant on my Rise Garden while I thought about where to put it.

Fast forward a few days and I notice something about the strawberry plant. It had these little green bugs on it. I looked them up online. They appear to be aphids. Fast forward a few more days and I find aphids on my Rise Garden plants. I try to squish them. I scour the internet and the Rise Garden Facebook Group looking for ideas to get rid of them: Neem oil; lady bugs; and rinse young plants with water. Okay, I can do this. I will easily combat these tiny little bugs. 

I search for lady bugs in my outdoor garden to no avail. Yes, I can buy them on Amazon, but do I really want a huge number of lady bugs from Amazon? Not really. 

I decide to combat the aphids with hard work. I buy fans. I take smaller plants out of my garden and rinse them under water and I spend each morning shaking my plants and pretending to be a ladybug by squishing them with my finger. I finally start spraying my plants with Neem oil. 

I have had days where I feel hopeful. But, aphids are stubborn little critters. Once you are infested with aphids, it's very hard to control them. Finally, in August, I decided enough is enough. I simply cannot keep up. Nothing is working well enough to combat this tiny green bug.     

By the first week of September, I finally gave up. I harvested my last bounty, threw away all of the plants, and filled up the kitchen sink with a combination of bleach and vinegar water. I spent a few hours rinsing and washing all the components of my Rise Garden and the wall around it (those bugs are everywhere!). I took apart all of the tubing for a very deep clean, and then I wiped down every surface of my Rise Garden. The garden will now sit, empty, for the next two weeks to make sure I don’t have any little critters alive or hatching or reproducing. 

And, then I will start over. I love our Rise Garden. Today was a lot of work; it was sad and frustrating, but I know better now. I'm sharing this lesson to keep you from making the same mistake. 

Trust me, I will never put a plant that was outside on or near my indoor Rise Garden. I learned a valuable lesson: Mother Nature is stronger than me and must be respected—and outdoor plants must be kept away from my hydroponic garden. 

Happy Gardening.