We thought it was a goner, but the kale came back (not quite) the very next day.
Earlier this summer we had a beautiful kale bed. We started seeds in the spring, transplanted and covered with ProtekNet bug netting. Once mature, we uncovered it to facilitate weekly harvesting.
We managed to get several harvests out of this bed. The leaves were big, beautiful, green and delicious. Unfortunately, we started to notice some flea beetle damage in early August. We made a mistake of planting kale next to broccoli – two brassica crops that flea beetles love. We will never do that again. The pests just jumped from one bed to the next for a generous buffet of food each day. We thought the kale would weather the onslaught since it was more mature and tougher than young leaves, but the beetles proved to be too much and it got to a point where we had to stop harvesting. It was no longer marketable.
I did pull out the broccoli beds, but never got around to pulling out the kale. The month of September had its fair share of cooler nights and warm days. I believe flea beetles thrive in warmer weather or perhaps they simply reached the end of their life cycle. In any case, the population has greatly diminished and the kale appears to have rebounded. New leaves look beautiful and I hope to be able to continue to harvest from this bed until the end of the year.
I tried some other organic controls throughout the summer, including diatomaceous earth and neem oil as a foliar spray. Neither really made much difference. I had to cover all plantings of arugula and mustards to prevent damage. Next season we will not plant any brassicas in this plot in an attempt to eliminate the flea beetles. I have to say, though, I’m pretty excited to see this kale bed recover.