I will be out at market in Ashland at the Armory today from 8:30-1:30. I am a little nervous, as a flea beetle infestation is currently decimating my joi choi and mustards. They seem to enjoy most everything else out in my beds too. Turns out, their favorite things to eat are red mustard, pak choi, daikon…yep, that’s right, ASIAN GREENS AND VEGETABLES! Which would be…what I am growing. Hmmmm, I wondered why nobody else around here was growing them on a large scale, seemed like such a brilliant idea at the time… And lord knows they love arugula too! Popular and delicious salad green, you know? Eatin’ the crap outta that, too.
I have NEVER had pest issues. Maybe a slug here or there, but nothing like this. Nothing a few cups of beer couldn’t handle. Pound a few of those, and the slugs don’t seem to matter as much… Seriously though, for those of you who don’t know, a lot of slugs are slimy little drunks–whether it’s a nice black ale or a PBR, they don’t seem to discriminate. It’s an old trick–you can dig a few holes right in your beds between your plants, set cups inside the holes (just make sure the lip of the cup is at ground level), fill them with beer, and in the morning you should see some floaters and some sinkers. If you are squeamish about the killing part, rest assured that they died doing what they loved. The cups do start to stink depending on the weather, so change them out here and there. But that’s slugs, and that’s when it’s really wet out.
If you don’t know what flea beetles do to plants, imagine a tiny Elmer Fudd out in the garden with his shotgun, blasting pak choi. That’s what it looks like, tiny pin holes that wouldn’t be a big deal if there weren’t like 100 of them per leaf. Bastards!
It’s a learning opportunity. You know how lots of people (maybe even you) like to call big problems learning opportunities these days? I heard it a lot when I was teaching. I think it’s meant to be a super duper positive way to motivate people to better meet challenges. It’s about turnin’ that frown upside down, and it’s really pissing me off right about now. Fleas beetles, I am learning, are indisious. In their larval stage, they start underground, eating the plant roots. They get strong and healthy down low, then rise to the surface to grind down the rest of the plant! They are tough to catch because, as their name suggests, they jump around fast like fleas. Flea beetles also are vectors for disease, like blight. Ugh.
But, nevermind. I have a few ideas about getting them under control, including yellow sticky traps, diatomaceous earth, and nematodes. All new frontiers for me, so in the meantime, I just get smarter and more tech about what I’m doing, which is good. Thank you, InterWebs!!!
So, the sad, sad news is that I have no greens mix for today. I have some to try, and it looks beautiful, but not enough to sell. I picked all the greens, including 3 kinds of lettuce, pak choi, mizuna, misome, tatsoi, gai choi, joi choi and cilantro, and am adding calendula petals as well as blue and white bee borage flowers. It is lovely, delicious, and nutritious. Someday maybe I’ll have bags of it to sell to people.
I also have some pretty little starts–snow peas, cilantro, baby pak choi, red romaine lettuce, komatsuna spinach mustard, tatsoi, and the awesome ASIAN STIR-FRY + SALAD GARDEN!
That way, you can grow your own flea beetle food at home.
Enjoy all your opportunities today!