. . . and beetles, oh my!

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In my delight at my vegetable garden success I forgot that when you have a garden you also have some uninvited guests.  These are known as pests.  I put up a fence around the garden to keep the four legged ones out, but it’s impossible to keep out the insects.   Recently I noticed that I have Japanese beetles feasting on the green bean foliage.  At first this didn’t bother me, but lately they have been gobbling up a lot of leaves.  So, I went into action.

Do no harm

There are a number of ways to get rid of Japanese beetles. You can have your neighborhood exterminator come and spray for these pests, but you run the risk that the chemicals may do damage to your crop, and then there are the human and canine risks from exposure.  This is the topic for another post, but I do not like a lot of chemicals in my yard.   I always look for an organic option, or something that won’t do harm.  I mean, if your choice is between weeds and cancer, I choose weeds any day!

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When I was a child I remember going outside with my mother and picking the Japanese beetles off the plants one by one and dropping them into some liquid in a tin can that killed them.  I don’t remember what we did with this beetle graveyard, and I think that the beetle population has exploded a bit since then, so I didn’t go this route.

While at my local hardware store I asked their advice and came home with a non-invasive bug killer.  It’s a very simple concept:  there is a substance that attracts the bugs, they come close, and drop into the bag, where they eventually die.  When the bag is full you simply throw it in the trash.  Let me say that there is no chemical poison involved.  They simply expire from the heat.  I don’t feel guilty about exterminating part of the Japanese beetle population.  I love all animals, but I draw the line at these pests.

The only real downside to this is that it also attracts bugs from your neighbor’s yard.  Well, my neighbors won’t consider that a negative, but I’m getting bugs that wouldn’t normally venture over the border.  Secondly, you can’t really ever get rid of all of them.  I still have some in my garden where they happily nosh on my green bean leaves.  They also seem to like to eat the leaves of raspberry and blackberry bushes.  The good news is the damage is small and they don’t like fruits or vegetables.  Yet another stumbling block in the journey to self-sufficiency, and another lesson learned.

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Seedlings ready to plant . . . now if only I had more space!

And while we’re on the subject of gardens, I planted my winter squash a few days ago and they are doing well.  I had some seedlings of butternut squash, acorn squash and sweet potatoes, but no more space, so I bought grow bags and put them next to my beds where they are already flowering.

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