Thursday, February 11, 2010

Tale of the beetle and the chicken

Kerry called me into the garden a few weekends back.  "Look what I've found!"

It's a bit sad, this poor Eggplant is very wilted and not because Kerry has just pulled it out of it's pot.  Look closely at the stem, just above the root ball...

You can clearly see it's withered and black.  Now here's the reason for the Boss's animation, she had already found the culprit...

I couldn't focus the instamatic camera closely enough on the stem to show this but he had channelled a path finally ring barking the plant.  Young beetle here was delivered to a very enthusiastic Harriet (Ben's somewhat mad Wyandotte Chicken.  OK she's very beautiful and charismatic in a chickeny way but still barking) who dispatched it with relish.

So using inverse logic I'm writing to sing the praises of Eggplants and Capsicumsfor that matter.  We make such a fuss over Tomatoes but I just love Eggies and Caps because they are so reliable and much more forgiving than their pomodori cousins.  Our potted Tomatoes that started so promisingly this season suffered badly when we hit hot weather so we have pretty much given up.  The Eggplants (bar one) and Capsicums are doing just fine.

How do I suggest you deal with beetles?  Honestly I think the occurrence is so rare I'd rather lose the odd plant than spray chemicals.  I don't know any easy organic methods for controlling beetles, apart from chooks and they can be more than a little tough on plants that they like.   Interestingly they don't appear to like the flavour of Eggplant but they love Tomatoes, Capsicums and Chillis.   Parasitic waspsare used for beetle control commercially but that involves significant time and skill.  If you know any good, safe and easy beetle controls please let me know.

By the way, I've had so many follow ups about squash and pumpkin producing male flowers only that I have done a little research (please follow the link, it's a great site).  It appears to be quite normal for the plant to produce male flowers first and for the females to follow later, possibly on the lateral branches.  My guess is that the plant is waiting for a sign before it decides to set fruit. This is quite common among flowering plants, put them under some sort of stress and they will respond by reproducing.  If everything's cosy, well fed  and comfortable they will continue to bulk up so that they can be even more productive when their time comes. This might also explain why early fruit shrivel and fall off, no calcium problems (my earlier diagnosis) the plant is just building strength.  I'd love to be more definite but,'s a good thing I'm not your doctor "Oh yeah, sorry.  I've changed my mind, you haven't got..."

No comments:

Post a Comment

Meet Garden Bloggers