It’s the time of year when Japanese Beetles find there way into your garden and they can create devastation in no time if they aren’t dealt with quickly. While they generally don’t eat dogwood, forsythia, holly, lilac, evergreens and Hosta, they’ll eat darn near everything else. These beetles feed on flowers and fruits making a skeleton of the leaves by eating the green parts and leaving the veins. Adults are most active from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. on warm summer days. These voracious pests prefer plants in direct sun, so shady areas are usually less damaged.
Adult Japanese beetles are one quarter to one half inch long with copper colored wing covers and a shiny metallic green head. Between the green head and tiny tufts of white hair along their side you’ll recognize them easily as they happily munch on your roses.
The bacterial spore, sold as ‘Doom’ or ‘Grub Attack’ is generally used to control these pests. Using a hormone lure in your yard simply attracts more beetles to your yard. Put the lure somewhere else a hundred yards away encouraging the beetles to go elsewhere. Unfortunately, reducing the beetles in your yard will not reduce their attacks in succeeding years. These beetles are great fliers and can travel upwards of ten miles from where they hatched.
Handpicking is also effective on your prized plants – drop the beetles into a bucket of soapy water to kill them. There is some data that suggests hand picking is as effective as spraying noxious chemicals and you know you have killed the beetle when it drowns in your soapy bucket. One trick is to hold the bucket of soapy water under the plant and then shake the plant. Beetles will fall off the plant right into the bucket and you’ll get more beetles if you do this in the early morning before they start feeding and flying. Several birds (grackles, cardinals, meadowlarks) feed on the adult beetles so encourage birds in your yard.
If you decide to use a lure, place it at least 100 feet away from your garden. Lures like the Tanglefoot 300000665 Japanese Beetle Trap attract beetles and if you place one in your garden, you’ll have all the neighbors beetles visiting as well. Find a neighbor who doesn’t garden to host the lures and traps.
Despite a visit from the Japanese Beetles last week (which I removed promptly and drowned in soapy water), the Everbearing Strawberries are producing a fine, sweet crop of fruit. I have not encountered any more of the voracious pests that can easily destroy a crop overnight.
There will be fresh strawberries for our Sunday morning waffle breakfast tomorrow, along with blueberries from northern Minnesota, a treat from a co-worker. I added some of the blueberries to our morning oatmeal today, and I doubt that there are better tasting blueberries anywhere.
Unfortunately the tomatoes growing on the plant in the Topsy-Turvy upside down tomato hanger have not fared so well in their fight again blossom-end rot. Most of the tiny little tomatoes develop black ends before they get larger than my thumb. I’ve been keeping them evenly watered and it doesn’t seem to have helped much. I may try adding Tums to the water, as I’ve read that the added calcium can help against BER.
The tomato plants in the raised bed garden are very healthy looking and have not had any BER at all. I think the soil mixture that I used in the beds and in the upside down tomato hanger were from the same batch of compost, perlite, and peat, so they all got the same start.
Above is a photo of the Roma tomatoes that are growing in the raised bed garden.
Below is a photo of the Roma tomatoes that are growing in the upside down tomato hanger.
I’ll have to remember next year, that the Roma tomato plants seem to do better in the raised bed. Seems the elongated tomatoes are more prone to BER. Cherry tomatoes might be a better choice for tomato planters. Honestly though, in general I think the upside down tomato planter is a little too high maintenance for me. Tomatoes do wonderfully in raised beds, and as long as I have the room for the gardens, I don’t really see an advantage to the tomato hangers, unless there is no room for a garden. Even then, I would probably just plant them in pots.
While strolling through my garden this evening, I encountered a colorful (very unwelcome) visitor on my strawberry plants. Japanese Beetles love strawberries and eggplants (and most other vegetation) and will quickly destroy a plant in no time. They are one of the most destructive garden pests. Its best to deal with them as soon as they appear, since they attract each other with pheromones.
Since I only saw one, it was easy to deal with but from what I’ve read on some of the gardening sites, they can be very difficult to get rid of.
Some organic methods that are recommended are:
Flicking them into a dish of soapy water which will kill them.
Using traps to attract them (this is favored by some gardeners, but not recommended by others since it seemed to make the problem worse by attracting even more).
Harvesting ripe fruit promptly helps too, since they are especially attracted to overripe fruit. I’ll be keeping an eye out for these pests and removing them as soon as they appear so they don’t take over my garden.