Plants need leaves for sustenance

It’s an awful thing to see a perfectly good fruit waste away on a plant.

I have good reason to not like the caterpillar that stripped my purple aubergine plant about two weeks ago. It ate up about 80 percent of the leaves on the plant, and the three fruits that were developing all aborted because the plant couldn’t sustain them with the remaining leaves.

I knew that the plant would have a hard time maintaining the fruits when I saw the smallest one start to turn brown first, but I didn’t think that all of them would be affected. That was wishful thinking on my part. Cutting off that first dying fruit, I hoped that the other two would have a fighting chance, but then the next smallest one also started turning brown, and I had to remove it, too.

Mind you, the plant had lots of encouragement to grow new leaves. I started with chicken poo – a high nitrogen fertilizer – then every few days, watered with seaweed solution and fish emulsion, and added some coffee grounds and blood and bone meal. Basically, I used whatever I had in my arsenal, but just a little; I didn’t want to kill the plant by over-fertilizing it!

The brinjal plant today – still struggling with its meagre supply of leaves, but sprouting new ones along its stems. The latest fertilizer is one of the fish from our aquarium that died. We normally cover such burial sites with stones or bricks to stop the dogs from digging to find the source of the “interesting” new smells…

Well, the plant is doing well, with new leaves sprouting along the stems, but the same can’t be said of the fruits. I guess the plant had to prioritize its energy for growing new leaves first. When it has grown enough of them, it will be able to photosynthesize enough to grow more fruits. It has been a good producer, though, lasting over a year and a half. My lesson from this is, plants need sufficient foliage to generate the energy to bear fruits. That dastardly caterpillar may have been pretty, and it may even have survived where I left it, but I sure don’t want to see more of them on my plants!

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