Monday, June 7, 2010

Eggplant attack!

As I mentioned before, a lot of my blogs this summer will have to do with growing my own food. A huge part of eating closer to home, for me at least, has to do with cutting out the unnecessary use of pesticides and herbicides. Since making the decision to grow everything organically however, it has not been as easy as I had first thought. Just because you make the choice to do things the 'right' way, doesn't mean that Mother Nature will just leave you be. In fact, I'd argue that she attacks with a vengaence that makes you question why you defend her in the first place... for a moment.

Anyway, I went out to the garden the other day and noticed that my eggplants' leaves were starting to look more like collanders than foliage. Each leaf was riddled with tiny, wee holes, which looked like singes from flying sparks. What could be doing this? Bending down further, I spotted the culprit - a miniature beetle-like bug that jumped like a common flea when disturbed. My pest identification book tells me that this bug is a 'flea beetle' - an appropriately named little guy. It also gave me a couple of ideas on how to get rid of them. First, I made a concoction of minced garlic cloves (3 large or 5 small) and water, which I let sit for a couple of hours. I poured the mixture into a spray bottle and sprayed the heck out of the plants. Most of the flea beetles hopped off the leaves, and some even died. Then I took wood ash from our firepit and sprinkled it around the stem of each plant. Because there has been so much rain lately, I have had to do this daily - sometimes several times a day. It looks as if the flea beetles have had a change of heart. I still see a couple from time to time, but nothing like the infestation that I first encountered.
I found an article on the flea beetle this morning that might be of interest to readers. Click here for more information.
With the flea beetle issue solved, it's time to move on to the radishes. According to this same pest book, there are no pests that eat radishes, yet, their foliage looks like it has been attacked by an angry kid, armed only with a holepunch. Back to the books!
Until next time...