Friday, October 31, 2008

Japanese Beetles

Friday, October 31, 2008

It was apparently a quiet night here on the mountain. Apparently. A beautiful starlit night, motionless air and 16 crisp degrees suggesting the distinct possibility that the prediction for a +50 degree, snow-melting day would occur. That apparition dissolved about 4 am when Karl the Wonder Dog, premise protector extraordinaire, life buddy, home security chief, flew out of slumber like one of those vertical take off jets, ending a dream I'll never get back to. As I left the dream, I thought I heard someone at the back door so I stumbled in that direction, ungratefully cursing while simultaneously begging Karl to calm before three zombies were fully awake and bouncing off the walls for the balance of the night.

When I got to my office and flipped on the outside perimeter light, the tracks in the snow below the window made the problem obvious. I got dressed and leashed up Karl and we headed outside. The sow bear and two cubs had been standing on the back steps getting ready for one of those Goldilocks maneuvers as they went from place to place in the yard, turning over stacked plant crates and five gallon buckets looking for breakfast.

Karl is a strange security officer for sure. He stops abruptly and snorts hard like a musk ox or a pawing bull but one always wonders what he'd do if large, physical danger approached. I knew that the bears had heard his noise long before I pulled on my boots so the only fear I had was how I'd make it through the rest of the day without enough sleep.

We circled the yard and tracks were everywhere. Two days ago I had spread a little cracked corn on a platform bird feeder and then the rain came and the birds left. That provided sufficient smell that the bears bent over the steel pole and licked off the little corn that remained. Once again my eagerness to enjoy birds out my office window disrupted my sleep. I know better than to do this but I messed up again. In a forgiving way, I was thankful that Karl's auditory perception was so clear. When he finished pulling me around the yard, we returned to the house and he was fast asleep almost before I got my boots off.

Something that is really more troublesome to me than bears is Japanese beetles. A month ago I wanted to mention beetle control as I have that one figured out. I've written about this before and I guess that's a sign of how important I think it is to get control of this beetle. There's plenty of information on the Internet about how the beetle got to America but less obvious info about milky spore. I swear by this bacteria and suggest that you do some quick research and consider it. If your soil temperature is already below 50 degrees, it's too late to apply this year but just the same you can get prepared for next spring. Several companies manufacture it but here's an example of what I purchase from the garden section in Vermont box stores. It's about $25 to cover 2500 square feet. Give it some thought, it really works!

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where the stars switch has been turned off for the night and I have to get to work!

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm