This morning I went outside and was met by cool crisp morning air with the beautiful spring-in-the-mountains scent that can’t be described with words. It was lovely and refreshing.
I started my rounds in the garden, checking to see if anything needed watering, thinning the newly sprouting carrots, beets, and then turnips. When I arrived at the turnips I was surprised to see that many of the leaves had holes all over them. They were fine yesterday. I crouched down and examined more closely and was able to spot several tiny shiny black beetles on the leaves. The beetles jumped when I touched them.
I went right inside and grabbed my favorite garden pest book, Good Bug Bad Bug by Jessica Walliser. It wasn’t hard to figure out what the culprit was – flea beetles. She had several suggestions for dealing with them which I took note of. I also noticed the other plants she says they attack and quickly went back to the garden to investigate. First I checked all my tomato plants. They all looked great and didn’t seem to have any infestations of anything on them at all. I wonder if the Wall-o-Waters act as somewhat of a physical barrier against pests. I am planning to leave them on until the plants outgrow them, just in case they are helping with this issue.
I also checked on my cabbage and Brussels sprouts. They did not have flea beetles, but they DID have a horrible infestation of aphids. Aphids everywhere on the underside of the leaves, and eggs everywhere as well. Oh, dear. I know one of the best things to do is to just squish them and wipe the eggs off the leaves, so I went to work on the 12 plants I have, cleaning each leaf of the bugs and the eggs. Ewwww! I also found them camped out on the underside of some of my lettuce seedlings. Then I went back to the book and looked up aphids too so I could learn more about them.
I also looked online for natural treatments for these bugs. Both types of insects can be treated with horticultural oil, neem oil, and yellow sticky pads. Every place I looked suggested trying at least a few of the different treatments to get as much control as possible. So I ordered both oils and the sticky pads. They should be here in the next few days. The sticky pads can kill beneficial insects as well, but the oils do not. If I find the sticky pads are killing too many other bugs besides the aphids and flea beetles, I will probably stop using them.
While I wait for them to arrive I plan to mix up some garlic spray and spray the plants down with it, as well as continue with the physical removal of the aphids and eggs each day. I am going to keep a close eye on all the plants in the garden because both of these pests can infest several different types of plants. I am also going to look into ways to attract beneficial insects to the garden.
As I watch the turnips and beets sprouting I am reminded of the root maggots we had ruin all the turnips last year. I hope that the turning of the top couple inches of soil last year right before the first hard frost helped kill them before overwintering. I think we might need to consider using row covers in spring when we are first planting as well. They are reported to help with all three of these pests.
Are you having pest problems in your garden? How are you dealing with them?