Eggplant Pests

I have some type of insect attacking the eggplant right now. The leaves have lots of tiny holes and a few large holes in them. There are also some translucent spots on the leaves which may later turn into full blown holes.

After a bit of searching around on the Internet, it sounds as if flea beetles may be the culprit. I did not see any bugs or eggs underneath the leaves when checking out the damage. It was a quick look, and I was slightly distracted by the discovery of little spiny thorns on the eggplant stems as this is my first time growing eggplant.

Here is a look at the damage:

It sounds like I have a few options to battle these bugs: nematodes, diatomaceous earth, or pyrethrin [1]. I think I may have some pyrethrin in the garage. I have used nematodes to control carrot flies in the past, but it’s difficult to trust a package that needs to stay cool in transit. I am also interested in trying out diatomaceous earth. But, I think this damage is rather severe and I should probably go with the quickest solution in order to prevent further damage ASAP.

Another item I may have in the garage is neem oil. It was left behind by the previous owners of my old house and managed to get shipped to our new house last year. I have never used it, but it is advertised as a product which should kill adult flea beetles [2]. As for the honeybees, the product page itself says to avoid applications when bees would be visiting that plant. Good to know.

Update: I found a few other good sites discussing neem oil [3]. I decided to mix up a one gallon batch and spray it on the eggplant this morning. I sprayed it fairly heavy, so hopefully I did not overdo it. I also lightly sprayed some on the broccoli, soybeans, and potatoes. The broccoli was mentioned on a few sites so I will give it a try. I saw a Japanese beetle on the potatoes and slapped it away immediately. I should have been more thorough and made sure to capture and kill it because I could not find a dead beetle after I knocked it down. No guarantee that it’s dead. I also though that I saw a cucumber beetle on the soybeans the other day, so I decided to protect that as well. Let’s hope it works!

http://www.veggiegardener.com/controlling-and-treating-flea-beetles-on-eggplant/ [1]

http://www.arbico-organics.com/category/pest-solver-guide-beetles [2]

http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/plant-problems/pests/pesticides/neem-oil-uses.htm [3]

Game Camera Critters

Best to keep these little guys outside the garden! The rabbit fence and deer fence both have been working. I know for a fact that I have these critters going through the backyard because the game camera currently sitting on top of the compost bin catches them routinely foraging around the bird feeder. There has been no sign of a breach in the fence or rabbit and deer damage inside of the garden. The Moultrie game camera is a Panorama 150 which takes pictures triggered by motion sensors in three different views: left, center, right. These views add up to 150 degrees of coverage. Just two of the views are shown below.

The most interesting critter seen below is the raccoon – at 6:00 in the evening! A little early for that hungry critter. He also likes to dig under the edge of the compost bin to get at the kitchen scraps. I will have to shore up the edges with some block or landscaping pavers to keep him from digging into the bin.

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Biological Warfare – Spinosad

Yesterday I returned home after being away for a few days to find pests on my broccoli. I was gone longer than the protection provided by a treatment of spinosad applied the day before I left home. Of course the little green cabbage worms went to work as soon as possible. These little green guys eat big holes in the leaves and in the worst cases they will get into the florets that are recognizable as the part of broccoli that everybody loves to eat. I have not had this problem in the few years that I have been gardening, but I recall my childhood when my father attempted to grow broccoli without putting up a successful defense against these worms… lets just say that I avoided broccoli cheese soup for a few years afterwards. Below we have a closeup of yesterday’s photo showing a cabbage worm. I may have mentioned in an older post something about trying to keep away the little white butterflies that may have been the only pollinators in the garden. The Old Farmer’s Almanac gives a really brief into into these pests [1].

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Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) and spinosad are two popular strains of soil dwelling bacteria that organic gardeners use to control pests in their gardens. From what I have read online, Bt makes their guts explode and spinosad works like a nerve agent. I forget exactly why I purchased spinosad over Bt last year, but I suspect it had something to do with the availability of Bt at my local hardware store. So, I used spinosad.

One thing I like to keep in mind when battling bugs is the adverse affects that my treatments may have on honeybees (of which I have seen none in the garden). According to the National Institutes of Health there should be no adverse affects to my local honeybee population from using spinosad [2].

I went out this morning and may have found a dead worm already! It looked pretty dead to me – no movement when I disturbed it.

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Another caterpillar I found in my old garden was that of the eastern black swallowtail. Those guys like to eat parsley and carrot leaves. I leave them in place as an acceptable loss because the butterflies are nice to see in the yard and they do not damage the portion of the carrots that we eat, the root. I had other pests go after the carrot roots – carrot flies. Those suckers borrow into the roots are leave really nasty holes behind. You may even be unlucky enough to find of them after you start to wash them up inside the kitchen. I deployed beneficial nematodes to combat the carrot flies with good success. Lets hope I do not need to fight them off again this year.

 

http://www.almanac.com/content/cabbageworms [1]

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12696428 [2]

 

10 Day Update

 

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After being away for ten days there is much to report on from the garden. The corn, broccoli, and tomatoes have shown the most growth over this time period. Details to follow.

Corn

The corn just might be knee high by the Fourth of July!

 

Squash

I actually expected to see a little more growth than this, but I suppose we are just a few days beyond germination, which was most likely slow due to a lack of rain while I was away. I planted them the morning after the last post.

 

Peas

The peas were picked twice by the neighbors while I was away and I found quite a few big ones that were missed and began to shrivel up – I immediately removed them from the vine in hopes that I can prevent those vines from stopping production. I will be picking and freezing lots of peas later tonight! Unfortunately, I don’t see any new blossoms so production may be coming to an end. Update: 10 16oz bags were blanched and frozen.

Green Beans

The beans look very bushy and appear to have flower buds growing. I am probably just a few weeks away from harvesting some of this first planting of green beans.

Soybeans

Growing bigger but nothing new to report.

Carrots

The carrots are still growing slowly.

Broccoli

The broccoli is getting really big. Florets are starting to form, and I have some bug damage to my leaves. It is time to apply another treatment of spinosad tonight.

Dill

The dill should have been planted much earlier given that it’s being completely overpowered by the broccoli flanking it on each side! Let’s hope that enough light gets through for it to grow above the canopy of broccoli!

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Cucumbers

The picklebush cucumbers are getting off to a nice start but are not yet ready to climb the trellis.

Tomatoes

The cherry tomatoes are forming green fruit! They are all growing very well. Most notably, the lady marmande tomatoes which are not yet in cages have caught up in size to the others. I need to stake them ASAP and determine what to do about additional cages.

Potatoes

The potato plants are pretty big now. The tubs were all filled to the top with dirt (mounding up) before I left so from here on out they will just receive water. It looks like they are done flowering now.

Zucchini

The zucchini plants all germinated and are doing equally well. I expect to thin out a plant or two.

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Eggplant

The eggplant is getting taller and a little thicker now.

Onions

The onions do not seem any larger, perhaps thicker but not taller. The stems seem thicker but I do not yet see a bulbs forming at their base.

Update

The weather has been very nice this week and many plants seems to have made considerable new growth.

The corn has certainly hit the ground running:

 

The zucchini and cucumbers are emerging nicely:

 

The broccoli is really getting big. I took these pictures two days ago and I swear they have become much larger since then:

 

The sugar snaps are now big enough to stir fry like snow peas:

 

I also started putting tomato cages out around the bigger plants, which are the cherry and super sauce varieties:

Weekend Update with Big News!

Several items of good news today:

  • sweet corn is beginning to emerge from the ground after just 5 days
  • pea pods have begun to form on the sugar snaps
  • cherry tomatoes are growing buds
  • super sauce tomatoes are growing buds
  • carrots are starting to grow additional leaves
  •  dill is starting to grow additional leaves
  • the broccoli is getting big
  • the onions are huge
  • the soybeans that germinated are growing decently

I was really excited to see the corn come up unexpectedly early:

The peas have been flowering for at least a week now and I had not seen any pods forming until today. I had not seen any bees in the garden so I was beginning to fear that I would have poor pollination. The only pollinator I have seen so far is a white butterfly that lays its eggs on the broccoli… This butterfly is the arch nemesis of any brassica farmer! As an aside, I would like to point out that I spray spinosad on my broccoli to prevent those nasty cabbage worms from eating all the leaves.

That’s a great to to lead into some broccoli photos:

The dill is planted between the two rows of broccoli, and here it is with tiny little dill fern leaves starting to grow:

The carrots look very similar to the dill at this stage of growth:

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Next up, the huge copra onions:

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And the potatoes (I mounded up three of the pots by adding more soil today):

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The cherry tomatoes are growing well now:

The super sauce tomatoes are growing well too:

The lady marmande tomatoes have a little big of sun burn but show nice new growth:

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The eggplant is doing alright:

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The soybeans that did germinate look pretty good:

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And finally we have the green beans doing very well since having been replanted. They did have a little big of slug damage (I found a slug on a stem a few days ago and starting using slug repellent pellets):

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I am now waiting for the zucchini and cucumbers to germinate . I also need to start thinking about cages for the tomato plants. When I grew the super sauce tomatoes in our old garden the plants grew so large and heavy that they collapsed the flimsy cages I had purchased at Lowes. The heavier cages at Lowes are almost all sold old so I am thinking about buying the cages sold by Burpee.

Cucumbers and zucchini

I finally got around to buying a cucumber trellis at Lowes. It’s a wooden A frame and is about 4′ tall and 4′ long, with a spread of about 3′ between the sides. It will fold up nicely for storage over the winter and should last several years.

I planted a row of picklebush cucumbers on each side of the trellis, about 30 seeds total.

I also planted 5 fordhook zucchini seeds in a mound next to the cucumbers between the eggplant and corn.