Our first garden pests have struck.
I planted out my baby eggplant starts and they were immediately attacked by flea beetles.
They are tiny little black beetles - kinda pretty, actually, with that dark blue/black sheen. They'll jump away when you disturb them, which is why they're called flea beetles.
They eat little holes in the leaves of everything in the nighshade and brassica family. That's the tomato family and the cabbage family.
Those are really really big families. And it is pretty much 90% of what's in the garden.
We're going to treat them with diatomaceous earth, which will hopefully make them leave. And in the meantime, I'm going to hand pick them off.
Here's a tip for hand picking these little beasts:
Get a small container of water and put some dish soap in it. Go stand by your plants - remember that your shadow will cause them to jump away so try to be subtle. I realize that's really hard to do.
Dip your fingers in the water to get them good and wet, then slowly reach to the plant and pinch the beetle against the leaf. Roll it off the leaf so you can pinch it between your fingers and then drop it in the water. The soap breaks the surface tension of the water and makes it so they'll sink fast and not be able to stand on the water and jump out. I hate it when that happens.
You'll get surprising good at this in a short time.
When you're done with the plants, go right back and do them again. It doesn't take the beetles long to get back to the business of chewing up your plants, so it won't take you long to make a dent in their population.
P.S. Since garden pests are a pretty big issue here, I've added a Garden Pest section on the Gardening page. Click on the Gardening tab at the top of the page for a list of what we regularly battle and how we do it.