FriedGreenTomatoes
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flea beetle

I've just discovered flea beetles eating the weeds in the garden. They are also all around the garlic.

How can I keep them from eating my garden up?
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hendi_alex
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Re: flea beetle

Well if they are eating the weeds, thank them! I seem to only have a problem with flea beetles on egg plant. I hand pick them two or three times per day when the beetles are active. In my garden the beetles seem to have two or three waves of activity, so by picking the critters for a couple of weeks, they then disappear for a good length of time before I have to get after them again.

Speaking of them eating your weeds. Maybe they will like the weeds better than the crop plants and will leave those alone. I grow lots zinnias every year. The Japanese beetles love something about the zinnia but don't seem to actually eat the plants. Our Japanese beetles usually stay mostly on the zinnias and leave most of the rest of the garden alone. Hopefully, nature did the same kind of thing for you, in providing just the right kind of weed to lure the pesky flea beetles away.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
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bangstrom
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Re: flea beetle

I love egg plant but I have given up trying to grow it because of flea beetles. They turn the leaves to lace and the fruit never has a chance to develop on naked stems. I must have beetles by the millions but I rarely see one. They must all hop away when they see me coming and the ones I find are hard to see and too quick to catch. I never was fast enough to catch a flea beetle even when in my prime and now I am not as fast as I used to be. I turned over a board the other day and found three slugs. I caught two but the third one got away.

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hendi_alex
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Re: flea beetle

I plant single egg plants in five or six locations, with some plants being about 8 feet apart and others being 50 feet or more from the others. Most years we have moderate to heavy flea beetle activity, but they have to work hard to find the egg plants and damage to any one plant is usually limited. One year we placed an egg plant, as a mostly decorative plant, on the bedroom balcony. The beetles never found that plant at all. It grew quite well in about a 15 gallon wooden box.

Good thing we live in the south, aside from talking slow, our flea beetle are usually a little slow to jump. Hand picking works well for me, and after about two weeks of aggressive, three times a day picking, the beetles move on and are no longer very active on the plants. Later in the summer there is usually a second wave of activity that lasts for a couple of weeks also.

Certain times of the day, the beetles are less prone to jumping that other times. And while some will jump, others just sit to be smashed. We have yet to loose an egg plant or have production slowed dramatically because of flea beetle damage. A couple of years I've stooped to chemical control, early in the season and before fruit started to set. But since learning the habits of the beetles, we have not had to use chemicals in many years.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

TZ -OH6
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Re: flea beetle

Plant radishes. Flea beetles prefer them to other things.

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hendi_alex
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Re: flea beetle

The more complex the growing environment, the less any individual plant is likely to suffer damage from pests. We have a large yard and use a variety of techniques to bring some balance into the plant and animal populations. We practice intensive gardening in most beds, where egg plants may be grown among strawberry plants, green beans, garlic, cucumber plants. Squash are grown surrounded by sweet peas and green beans. Most every bed is a mix of at least three different plants. Also, the planting beds are scattered around the yard. We have three smaller planting areas that are 50 feet to 150 feet from the main gardening area.

Our yard is very naturalized and somewhat unruly in some areas. We have a large (about 1/4 acre) naturalized bed of annual and perennial plants, but most weeds are allowed to grow right along with the cultivated plants. Most of the perennial plants are now self sewn. We have a second naturalized area that is smaller but maybe 50 feet by 75 feet that is mostly dedicated to butterfly and bee host plants. It as well is not heavily groomed and lots of native 'weeds' grow right along with the more intentionally planted flower plants and vines.

As a last touch, several years ago I started planting a zig zag of flowering/fruiting, wildlife friendly shrubs. The irregular line runs between various beds, an gives somewhat of a secret garden effect as one walks through the various spaces. All of this together gives tremendous habitat complexity over the approximately two acres that it is all planted. IMO that complexity provides for a better balance of critters, and helps prevent any kind of major infestation on most vegetable crops. The Japanese beetles for example, seem to be much happier spending time in our wildflower garden than they do in munching on egg plant leaves, one of their favorite snacks. The flea beetles may find one egg plants but will totally ignore one that is being grown several feet away, that has a barrier of other plants acting as somewhat of a shield.

While our effort is over a somewhat grander scale, IMO such intensive approaches that emphasize habitat diversity and scattering or randomization of plantings, will work to improve both the quality of a yard gardening area, and will help minimize 'pest' problems as well.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

imafan26
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Re: flea beetle

I don't have a lot of flea beetle damage all of the time. In one of the plots, the eggplant leaves are pretty laced up, but the eggplant still produces eggplant so, the damage is tolerable.

At my home plot, I don't have much flea beetle damage at all, (knock on softwood). The green eggplant is a lot tougher in terms of health, much more productive and the fruits can stay on the bush longer and still be edible. The down side is that people are averse to the color.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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hendi_alex
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Re: flea beetle

I've migrated toward only growing the Asian green egg plants. They have been so very productive, and no noticeable difference in taste between them and their darker cousins. Last year we had a continuous supply of egg plant from May through November. We just picked our first egg plant of the season this week. The cool weather has things moving a little slower this year. One or two of the plants have light flea beetle damage and the other three are untouched.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

imafan26
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Re: flea beetle

I prefer the green eggplants. The plants are much more productive and last longer. The thin skinned thai eggplant are just as good as the purple one and they can stay on the plant longer before they get too hard to eat. The flea beetles seem to prefer to go after the purple eggplant more than the green too. I guess because my purple eggplant is almost always the weaker plant anyway.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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applestar
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Re: flea beetle

OK! I'm putting Asian (Thai?) green eggplant on my list of vegs to grow next year. :D
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