This year the spring was too dry, with almost no rain. I usually sow the cabbage seeds directly into the garden and always had good results. But this spring, no seedlings sprung from the cabbage seeds I had sown. I watered them, but maybe not thoroughly enough, for there was heavy drought for almost two months. It was almost June when I decided to buy some new cabbage seeds and sow them again. This time they sprouted and lots of cabbage seedlings grew until August when I decided to thin them. I picked up the biggest and planted them into the nice rows I had made.
After a day or two, I saw a few black bugs on the nasturtium flowers and leaves, which I had also planted in the vegetable garden. I thought I had found a perfect spot, where they grew so well and bloomed so beautifully until those black nasty bugs came and started eating their flowers and leaves. I had never seen such bugs before, that's why I had to google them, so I would know what to do. Before I realized what was happening, the flowers and leaves had millions of holes in them and were looking like a piece of lace. As much as I would have wanted to protect the other bugs in my garden, I had to search for a good insecticide, capable of destroying the nasty flea beetles.
I found out that they were the Turnip flea beetles - meaning, the Phyllotreta atra genus, from the leaf beetle family Crysomelidae. The adults are very small, up to 2 to 2.3 mm long and oval shaped, all shiny black, with rather long black antennas and small wings for short distance flying. They have one generation every year. They lay the eggs on the ground, next to any brassica plants, sometime in June. After 10 days, the larvae emerge from the eggs and start feeding on the roots for 3 to 4 weeks. The 5 mm long larvae have white bellies and black backs. They pupate in the ground for 10 days.
In August, the adult emerges and starts feeding on the brassica leaves. In my case, they were all over the nasturtium, also from the Brassicaceae family. That didn't alarm me so much, because those were planted there only for fun and for their beauty. However, I still wanted to clear my beautiful flowers from the nasty bugs and, in order to do that, I had to buy a special insecticide.
The next morning, before leaving, I checked the garden, while drinking my coffee...which almost choked me, when I saw the same nasty bugs also on the cabbage seedlings. That was a real emergency! I had a list with a few insecticides, so, as soon as I left the office, I ran to the pest control store. The lady from the store gave me one which she said it will work and it really did. I finally got rid of the nasty bugs!
The cabbage seedlings were badly damaged, but they recovered fast. So have the nasturtiums, which started to bloom after a few weeks. The interesting fact is that, when I wanted to pick up some of their seeds - which I thought it should have been there, on the stalks - I never found any seed, not even one! Those nasty bugs must have eaten the seeds too, before they started to dry off.
The cabbage has started to grow very well after the treatment and soon I will be able to harvest the first heads. It took them more time to grow because of the hot summer, although I watered them thoroughly. The long fall helped, because it gave them more time to mature. It was a warm fall though and the nights have been more warm than cold. However, the few cloudy days and freezing nights started my cabbage heads to grow. Even if it's November, I have now about 50 healthy cabbage heads in my garden. Of course, I would have needed it earlier, because, in Romania, we're starting the sauerkraut on October 26th, as a very strong tradition. In fact, it is a must, otherwise the sauerkraut wouldn't be sour enough for Christmas, when we all cook pork stuffed cabbage rolls - also a must!
Be as it may, I've already put cabbage in a smaller barrel, on that very day, just to be sure that I'll have a good sauerkraut for Christmas. Cabbage is very cheap in the fall and also in large quantities.
You may ask 'Why bother with growing cabbage, since it is so cheap?' Well, I think it's the gardener's pride, but also the assurance of pickling the best Buzau cabbage species, which I selected when I first bought the seeds. Not all farmers are growing this variety of cabbage and some cultivars are bad for making cabbage rolls. You may think it's silly, yet it's very important for us Romanians.
Well, as they say, all is well when ends well. Even if I will have too much cabbage, I will be happy to share part of it with my friends and family - that is, if they would want it raw. I might be surprised to be asked to pickle it myself and, only then, to share it with them. How could I refuse? But, do you think I should tell them about the nasty bugs, which were all over the cabbage? No, let this be my secret!
 - http://naturewonders.org/picture?/3164