I was tying up my newly transplanted tomatoes when I noticed some flea beetle damage on the leaves. We had flea beetles last year but they didn’t attack until later in the season. What do flea beetles do to the plants and how do we fix the issue?
You can see the damage a flea beetle can do in the picture above. The black spot is a flea beetle. They eat the plant between the veins making it look like lace. They will also lay their eggs on the leaves.
When plants are small it’s easy to look at every plant and squish the beetles between your fingers. As the plants get bigger we try spraying plants with a water hose to knock them off and then crush them as they land on the fabric. We’ve also found that trimming off any leaves that almost touch the ground really helps. If the access to the leaves is more difficult, the less likely they will take hold. You have to stay on top of it though. It’s really hard to get it back under control if you don’t look through the plants every couple days. Since we will never use pesticide there is a big commitment to prevent a full on invasion. May and June is mating season so now is the best time to focus on it.
Look at flea beetles mating on the tomatoes on the farm’s YouTube channel:
With the weather warming, I’ve gotten the bug to start growing my vegetables! When I lived in the south I could start growing indoors in January and move everything outside in March. In the North West I’d start early March and have everything outside mid-April. In the Rocky Mountain region we have to wait until April to start both indoor and outdoor planting. There always seems to be a snow storm between now and Mothers Day. It never fails. Hot weather plants shouldn’t go outside until Memorial Day unless they are fully protected. It’s a short growing season here.
Today I’m starting to grow my cold vegetable transplants for broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and celery, along with some herbs that usually take a while to germinate.You can buy trays and seed starting mix at any home improvement store. I pick a good quality organic mix.
I’m trying to be more precise in how I plant so I finally bought sturdy plant tags to be sure I don’t mix up what I’m growing (I’ve mixed up plants before!).I also found a neat trick to be sure I plant at the correct depth by drawing lines on a marker in 1/4 inch segments and using it as a measuring tool.
A cover on your tray will help keep the soil moist through the initial germination and then you can remove it. A standard shop light about 12-18 inches above your trays is plenty to grow your transplants. You don’t need a grow light. It’s more important to just keep the soil at least 70 degrees and moist.
We’ll check in a few weeks from now and see how they are doing.