November 22, 2020

It takes a village to grow a gardener…and arugula. (Here’s the good bugs that defend arugula from flea beetles and the plants that attract those good bugs)

by christopherabdo

It doesn't matter if you care about gardening.

Do you care about your health? Do you love picking fresh fruit from a tree? Do you like have lower water bills, heating and AC bills? Do you like having a safe neighborhood? Then nurturing the precious few, the precious proud gardeners in your life is the way towards the tremendous benefits you don't realize are waiting for you, once you find your role in the social and (if you're supporting your gardener/farmer/etc) natural ecosystems. 

It turns out that it really takes a village to grow a gardener...and Arugula. 

Today I'll be tackling a mighty pest in the garden: 

Flea Beetles. 

However at the same time, I'll be talking about how arugula can't fight this pest alone, and it really takes a village of helpful plants to create a better chance for arugula to succeed. 

In parallel, I'll also be getting into how your life desperately needs a gardener, even if you don't realize it yet and even if you have zero interest in gardening. 

So the number one thing keeping me from succeeding with Arugula is flea beetles. 

It is now 11/22/20...and 67 degrees outside...AMAZING weather for Arugula AND flea beetles. 

Here's the thing: 

My Arugula has always been by its lonesome. So flea beetles had no other predators to snatch them up and keep their numbers under control. 

And likewise...most beginning gardeners are often by their lonesome, trying to learn on their own and succeed on their own. What if though, every gardener on the planet had a village? A community that supported them? That might look like...

People with land they aren't using offer space, resources (like fallen leaves for the garden).

More experienced gardeners mentor beginners on a consistent basis and actually look at their plot...

People with animals that have great manure step up and offer that: rabbit poo, cow manure, etc.

People who love to cook help deal with the overwhelming harvest rather than the gardener having to preserve and process everything.

How amazing would it be, if...instead of putting our farmers in debt and leaving gardeners to fund and support all of their own progress,  everyone knew exactly how to help and it felt easy to help

Not only that...but what if everyone benefitted? Neighborhoods full of fruits trees...water bills going down because landscapes had the loving, climate-appropriate care they needed...everyone enjoyably eating healthier because they have befriended and support their gardener next door to be so successful that there is surplus in the garden. 

THIS is why this blog is not just about how to connect with your inner gardenista, its also about helping people who may not be interested in gardening at all, see the tremendous benefits that come from supporting the gardener...becuase the benefits to the community are 10 fold. 

This is proven by the way. Just a little teaser: I have a story coming up of how an entire community in Arizona experienced a drop in their AC bill, AND reduced flooding, AND reduced their water-bill, without going off-grid...but rather by supporting the local permaculturist in that neighborhood. 

You are already paying and suffering right now because we don't have a village to raise a gardener. I'm asking myself: How do I make a system, a way, to interweave the gardener back into the social fabric of society? Or rather: what is my role in the social ecosystem to make that more possible? 

I can't even hope to answer that question alone. This is why I need you.

Until then though, I need to get this damn arugula to grow without getting totally torn up by the flea beetles. So I'll need a village, a team of plants that will attract the good bugs. Here we go: 

Flea Beetles:

That's where the good bugs come in...and all the wonderful advice of Jessica Walliser from her book: Attracting Beneficial Bugs. 

Find out more about Jessica at her website:

Parasitic Wasps eat flea beetles, they also need these plants: 





Black eyed Susan






Sweet alyssum


Yellow coneflower

tachinid flies eat flea beetles, they also need these plants: 

Aromatic herbs, 








Big eyed bugs they also need these plants: 







Lace flower 

Sweet alyssum

So now we look for what we can find at the nursery or grow from seed...I'll be back with what I find!


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