Monday, June 11, 2012

Hopping Hell ...

... otherwise known as Flea Beetles. I am at war. The unusually warm weather allowed me to get lots of stuff out into the garden much earlier than usual this Spring, so I put my eggplant seedlings out with high hopes. They were looking fine for about a week, and then one morning appeared to have jillions of shotholes in the leaves. That's the certain sign that the flea beetles have discovered where I was hiding them.

I have always followed organic gardening practices, so spraying with deadly concoctions is out. Crop rotation and continually building the soil seems to deter most other pests for me. But these stinking flea beetles drive me crazy! I should have used row cover until the beetles life cycle turned the page, but I didn't. I don't know why, so don't ask. I guess it just slipped my mind, until the battle began. Seeing as how I put the eggplant in an area where no susceptible plants were growing last year, and the creeps hang out in the soil awaiting their newest victim, I cannot figure out how they got there. Will they hop hundreds of feet? Or do they actually smell food and fly to it? I don't know.

Another question: can you over-do the use of DE (diatomaceous earth)? I seem to have good success using it as a method of ridding the beetles. Until it rains. Then it needs to be re-applied. Did I mention that it has rained here every day for about a week and a half?

Fortunately, the plants seem to be able to survive in spite of repeated attacks from the little ba%&rds from hell, and are developing flowers already. I will continue my daily surveillance and be armed and dangerous for as long as necessary. Supposedly, the attacks will end in July, according to reliable sources of intelligence on the enemy.

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