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It’s nearly flea beetle battle time! The canola is no longer a beautiful yellow and harvest is just around the corner. That means millions of flea beetles will descend on my garden. The one farmer’s canola crops are ahead of the other farmer’s, so I’m hoping that they head to that other farmer’s canola before hitting my crops and I can get ready, and even harvest, most of my garden.
I always run for the bok choi, broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflowers, basically any plant in the brassica family, making sure they’re covered and ready for the invasion. But, they apparently, like corn tomatoes, and potatoes. Fuck me, right? I’ve already been doing battle with grasshoppers all summer long (see how to battle those beasts here) and I’m pretty worn out. But, it also means that I have lots of ammo up my sleeve like tulle and crinnolin (which is far too big for flea beetles), row covers, insecticidal soap, and some amazing dusting powder (the Doktor Doom crysanthemum powder).
Know your harvest times
Seriously. We should all be more in tune with nature and how we get our food, even if our said food is just fatty oils. Know the time of harvest, as you’re not immune even if you live in the city. They will head out in search of yummies and descend on properties that may be close to the edge of city limits where canola abounds. Aka the entire fucking prairies. I can watch the canola and get ready for when it’s harvest time; I can even look out my window and see the tractor bumbling by – where I will then run out of my house like a mad woman and quickly cover all my crops.
Canola is harvested – usually – in late August/early September. Prime harvesting time. When the canola starts going from yellow to green, it’s time to research how to keep flea beetles out of your garden. When they go from green to golden brown, it’s time to put those covers on. If you’re in August and you leave for the weekend, pop the covers on – just in case! It’s better to have been overzealous with them than to come home to a garden completely ruined.
Are seriously your best friend. Not only will they help you start your garden earlier, and extend the season, they will protect your babies from harmful insects. This year, I used row covers to cover crops from grasshoppers and to start my watermelon (which was originally decimated by grasshoppers) in early July! They are now growing out of control and are looking beautiful. I’ll be eating watermelon in September/October with help from my row covers!
So far, I’ve used row covers from a few different places and they all seem the same to me. These ones on Amazon have a decent review and aren’t insanely expensive.
Leave a Trap
Just two days before the one farmer started harvesting his canola my mom took all of her cabbage home. I left the remnants and let the flea beetles feast on these, keeping them away from my other plants. I covered my broccoli, but had to sacrifice one smaller plant as my row cover wouldn’t reach. But, it worked out! The flea beetle took down that small broccoli plant and completely ravaged the leaves of the cabbage plants, but my broccoli are happy and safe. And, they ignored any other vegetable in my garden.
You can try using insecticidal soap on your plants to get rid of the flea beetles; I did this last year with just soap and water, but it didn’t turn out that great. The above three steps work well for me, and I’m surrounded by canola, so if you’re not you should be happily in the clear!