I’m still on my maiden voyage growing brinjals – or eggplants or aubergines, as you may know them. As with the rest of my other plants, these poor babies have been coping with weather extremes for the last few months.
In my context, weather “extremes” refers to hot, moisture-eradicating sunny days alternating with a stretch of rainy weather. It confuses the plants and irks this gardener.
Anyway, my poor brinjal plants have not been progressing smoothly. They stayed small for many weeks. Then, after a decent growth spurt, they plateaued and have been experimenting with flowering. Sooner or later, they’re going to surprise me by finally setting fruit, but I’ve given up holding my breath in anticipation every time I see a pretty purple flower.
The problem is, the nice leaves are very inviting to a number of pests. The big yellow grasshopper/locust that I mentioned last week has been feasting on the leaves.
I also have a daily war on with whiteflies, cleaning away their eggs laid in dotted spiral lines on the undersides of leaves. Not doing this for two or more days means that when I turn over the leaves, I see full-grown whiteflies resting in a group.
Mealy bugs have also attempted to set up home, but I’ve been removing and squishing them – not my favourite activity, but a gardener’s gotta do what a gardener’s gotta do.
And now, the latest creature to join the party is…
Well, no prizes for guessing it had to be a caterpillar – or in this case, a few of them. They’re sneaky little things – the green of their bodies almost perfectly matches the green of the leaves. With the slanting white lines across their bodies, they remind me of little green candles you could find on a birthday cake!
I have no idea what moth or butterfly these are from, but I’m lucky they lay their eggs on the tops of the leaves. They’re not too difficult to spot once you know you need to look for them. I just pick them off by hand and flick them into the grass. They can eat all the grass they want to, if they want to…
If there are this many pests lurking around, you may wonder why I haven’t sprayed anything on the plants yet.
Well, I don’t want to do anything to make this ladybug want to go away! I trust it’s feeding on some of the pests that haunt my plants. Between the two of us, we ought to be able to control the pests attacking the brinjal plants, and maybe it’ll invite some friends or relatives to come join the party!