Q&A

DEAR NEW FARM:

We have a small home garden and have found flea beetles on young eggplants. We want to use as nontoxic a treatment as possible and wonder about Pyola and/or similar treatments. We have tomatoes nearby; are they at risk from flea beetles as well?

Thanks,
Trish Lyell
New York

 

DEAR TRISH:

Though they do break down quickly and are made from natural ingredients (chrysanthemums), pyrethrums, like Pyola, should only be used as a last resort (and that’s precisely what the National Organic Program tells farmers). Instead, for flea beetles in your home garden, dilute 1-2 cups 70-percent strength isopropyl alcohol in one quart water and spray on plants (test a few leaves first), or try one part ammonia with seven parts water as a spray (also test first).

We noticed the eggplants in well-drained soil in our raised beds—freshly dressed with compost shortly after transplanting—outgrew the flea beetle damage a lot better than plants growing a few feet away in less-desirable soil. Also, there are many tomatoes nearby, and the flea beetles don’t seem to be bothering them. (Perhaps a few eggplants in poor soil work as an effective trap crop!)

NF

 

DEAR NEW FARM:

Thanks so much for your advice. We were away for nine days and came back to find that, indeed, the eggplants seem to be winning out and growing OK despite the flea beetles. Also, I read that planting catnip and/or thyme near cabbage and eggplant will repel flea beetles.

Thanks again,
Trish

 

 

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