Raised Bed and Seed Gardening

It’s been raining for two full days in Mendota, Virginia, but we caught a break a few minutes ago,  so I went out to do my daily “bug walk.” Tomorrow will be week four of the war on Japanese beetles. I’ve killed about 40-60 beetles each day. My green beans are holding their own. Look how full the vines are in the raised beds. They are Mountaineer Half Runners, and I have nicknamed them the “Fighting Mountaineers” because they continue to produce even with damaged vines.

Fighting Beans

Here’s the damaged skeletal leaves. The damage is  primarily where the sun hits the vine, as Japanese beetles like to be exposed to the sun where other Japanese beetles can find them and they can party and eat on the vine. And have sex. I don’t want to be crude but I can actually see them humping. They are so distracted they pay little attention to my hand as it swoops down, grabs them and drops them in the bucket for a swim.  I wear gloves, because they bite.  Did I say I hate them?

Damaged Vines

Beside the beans, I have a Crazy Garden. Each year, we have some part of our garden that is wild and crazy. It’s a place for bees and butterflies. I put the Crazy Garden out late this year, so it’s just getting ready to go into bloom.

Crazy Garden

Black closer to the house, since the soil was soft and damp today, it was a great time to sow some zinnias. I just toss them…don’t even bother to cover the seeds. Enough will get pushed in the ground by the rain to germinate.

Zinnia Seeds

Those zinnias will look like this in just a few weeks. I planted these in mid-June.

Zinnia even closer

In the spring, I’m greeted with Lupine — one of my faves. However, Lupine is difficult to transplant if you buy a seeding from the garden center. It’s easy to grow from seed if you are patient and don’t mind waiting until the next growing season for the reward. Today’s little seedlings I planted from seed two weeks ago look like this…

Baby Lupine

Will look like this next spring…I know…run out and buy seeds now!! A pack of seeds is about $1.00 Can you believe one little seed????

Lupine in Beds

And the Black Eyed Susie vines planted from leftover seed from last year look like this today…

Susie Vines

But the Susie vines will look so pretty in the fall when I replace the red New Guinea Impatiens with mums. They’ll spread around like they have in the past. Here’s vines from last year.

Susie Flowers

I stuck alyssum seeds in around this little tree that I bought two or three Christmases ago for the hearth. I could not find alyssum this year, and I thought I’d just stick these seeds in and see what happened. It should be full of trailing alyssum in a week or two. I’ll show you when it happens.


It’s also fun to get “starts” from friends…a trip to a friend’s house rewarded me with about 20 of these five weeks ago. Nice! I don’t know what these flowers are called, but they remind me of an old friend, Patricia Quick. I hope she’s reading this and smiling. .

Cocks Comb

And then…for the bedding plants I DID buy from my True Love’s Half Dead Plant Rack…I’ve perfected the low maintenance flower bed of cramming everything in so tight that no weeds can surface. For this to work, you’d almost have to have a “country” or “cottage” garden.

Bedding Plants

Except for one weed. The Dish weed.

Side Garden with Dish


Understanding the Enemy

I am continuing waging a war on Japanese beetles. I spotted them on Saturday night, and thought I would just pick them off and drown them. It’s Tuesday evening, and I’ve drowned about 160 beetles. On Sunday, I found about 40 on my green beans. Here’s some damaged leaves.

Mountaineer Damage

I’ve been observing them and they like to be together, and that makes it easier for me to shake them off in my bucket. I have Dawn and warm water. Mike said to me “you know what is NOT very attractive? Someone who won’t walk through the yard without a bucket of water with dead beetles.” Sorry. I’m obsessed. We had company Sunday and he made me move my bucket. I keep it handy so I can just zip out, shake and drown.

Beetles Abuot 40

I’ve also learned that they prefer zinnias over my Mountaineer Half Runner green beans. Normally I have large rows of zinnias out beside the garden, but this year, they are very late (because I put them out late). BIG MISTAKE as I could have been killing them before they got on the beans. Here’s a few that are up and the beetles are trying to eat them as fast as I try to pick them off and kill them. Just a few beetles and so much damage.

Zinnia Damage

I’m hoping that my soil and plants are strong enough to withstand the damage–especially when it comes to my green beans. I spoke with my neighbor and they have not arrived at her house which is one mile up the river. Maybe I’m killing them all before they get there?

I go out 2-3 times per day to check the vines. It only takes a few minutes, and today there was a noticeable drop in the number of Japanese beetles. My friend, Linda Nunley, shared her recipe for discouraging them, and I may try it, but I so enjoy killing them that I’m waiting a few days.

For some reason, I thought they stayed only a couple of weeks but I read tonight that their life cycle is 60 days. This means I’ve got to be checking for beetles for several weeks. These guys are depending on me to take care of the beetles but to do so responsibly.  In a bee-friendly way.

Honeybee cartoon

I’ve never understood hunting until now. Since this started, I totally get it. Listen up, beetles, there’s a new sheriff in town.

On another subject, Mike kept reminding me that summer had started. Apparently, it was driving him crazy that I had not changed out my chalkboard window. It still looked like this…

Spring NoTalent Chalkboard Window

A quick change to satisfy him!

Summer 2


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