Category Archives: Gardening

Japanese Beetles

We are being attacked.  When the weather gets hot, Japanese Beetles come out and eat roses, hollyhocks, buckthorn, linden trees, and grape leaves.  The poor roses hardly have a chance.  The new flowers are ragged by noon.  All that is left on some of the grape leaves are the veins.  The hollyhocks lose their flowers as well.   

Japanese Beetle

Japanese Beetle

It’s war!  They are relatively new arrivals here in our neighborhood.  They showed up last year and this year they are all over our plants.  The evil little beetles come out and eat during the hot weather, lay their eggs in the lawn, the grubs hatch and eat the grass roots.  Next spring, the grubs become beetles, and the horrible thing starts all over again.   

When they hit the peach and vineyard area around Palisade, the chemicals came out and the infestation was stopped.  They don’t talk about the harm done to beneficial insects.  We try to be organic, so the poisons are out.   

The first tactic we adopted is to go out with a small pitcher with some dish soap laden water, find the bugs, and flick the bugs into the water with a table knife.  It goes on all day.  The grape arbor is high, and I am banned from going up more than two steps on the ladder, so some escape.  I am not big on killing living beings, but here is an exception.

They are fairly round with an iridescent shell.  Ugly little beasts.  At the end of the day we have dozens floating in the water.  With a lot of research, mostly on University Extension Service websites, we discovered neem oil with a tiny amount of azadirachtin kills and repels the little beasts. 

As the grubs get active in the turf, we are going to introduce some nematodes that attack the grubs.  With luck, we won’t have those dead spots in the lawn.  The nematodes stay around, so one time for them.  

On my bug hunt one morning, I didn’t find one beetle.  The fortified neem oil is working.  After a couple of days they are back and it’s back to work. The neighbors won’t be killing the grubs, so we will have an annual battle.   

If you have Japanese Beetles, neem oil with azadirachtin works.  Straight neem oil works on lots of harmful insects, but not without some azadirachtin for our little buddies.  If you need neem oil and don’t have Japanese Beetles, we have a couple of bottles we will give you.  Good hunting!

The Garden

Raspberries planterI am married to an artist.  She paints, she writes (lately, haiku), is doing lots of cooking with our new kitchen, and she gardens.  It’s spring, so a lot of our effort is going into the garden. I willingly garden, but it is mostly the labor part. I dig, I built a cold frame and re-glazed it, I water and help plant.  I do not, however decide what to plant or where.  I am getting better at pruning with my left-handed Felco Pruner.  I mow, compost, rake, clean up, water, and haul.

We are landscaping in back, so lots of things are changing.  We have a nice new patio with a pergola.  The iris are already in along the fence and in the alley just outside.

The project this week is raspberries.  We had a 15 foot long cedar planter built just in front of the big blank slab of a garage wall that is YELLOW.  I prepared the planter soil with compost made from last falls leaves and a lot of coffee grounds from the coffee shops.  The raspberries will get fairly high and will break up that expanse of garage.  We were planning to have the raspberries planted by the pros but Carol got a call from a woman she met at a class offering free raspberries.

Raspberries

Raspberries

We jumped in my pickup and went over to their garden in what used to be a run-down neighborhood between I-25 and Highlands.  It is being transformed with new construction, but still retains some of the flavor of what it used to be.  We dug up about fifteen plants, brought them home and planted them. They were bare root, so some of them are looking pretty droopy, but I think they will make it.  My job is to set some eight foot cedar posts and run wires between them to support the raspberry canes.  The bushes can get about six to eight feet tall.  I can’t wait to have fresh raspberries in my muffins.

Our perennials are doing fine.  We were a bit worried after that early hard freeze we had last fall.  Even Carol’s attempt to clone the Pacific Northwest with a salal plant and some azaleas survived.  There is a deciduous bush next to the front door that is supposed to be evergreen that lost all its leaves.    It has lots of little buds and a few leaves, so I think it will be all right.

One of the things we are getting done in front is putting big rocks and some perennials on the slope from the lawn down to the sidewalk.  I am not getting any stronger, and that slope is hard to mow.  It also gets dry in summer, as it faces west.

Our Little Free Library is up and running. It is one of the features on the slope.  It is so much fun going out to check the books.  We get quite a bit of business, but no problem, because people keep bringing us books.  It’s painful, but I am culling some of my books.  It seems like some of my soul goes with them.  I hope they will enrich the soul of their next owner. It is good, life as a householder.