The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Buggy beans

Buggy beans

Mexican bean beetle

Although our buggy beans are oddly beautiful, I can't say I'm glad the Mexican bean beetle discovered our bush beans last year and stuck around to nibble their way through another season.

So far, I've just been squashing all stages of the pest insect as I pick beans twice a week.  Despite the scary looking spines, the larva won't hurt your bare fingers, although they will leave a brilliant yellow pigment behind.

But when it started taking two or three times as long to pick beans due to bug squishing, I decided to pull up the worst beds and just seed another planting.  Our favorite variety produces a light crop for the first picking, a huge crop for the second picking, a big crop for the third picking, then slowly (or quickly if the beetles eat the leaves) lessens in intensity from there.  We have just enough time before the first frost to make it through those first two pickings, so I'm cutting my losses and removing this reservoir of pests from the garden.

You can tell a pest insect is trouble when the chickens ignore bug-laden plants and go straight for the overripe cucumbers....

Chickens eating cucumberLearn to keep bugs at bay

Our chickens' favorite spots in the pasture are by the compost pile and chicken waterer.  What's not to love about unlimited clean water?

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Those dang things destroyed my entire row of bush beans. But they left all of the pole beans untouched. Maybe the larger Japanese beetles have claimed them for their own.

FYI - for some reason when I click on your link from my feed reader it always takes me to the home page instead of the post. This started happening a couple of days ago.

THANK YOU FOR THE SEEDS! I can't wait to give them a try next year. If you need any thornless blackberry canes we have plenty!

Comment by Everett Sun Jul 24 18:47:38 2011

The difference could be your fertilizing strategy. One of my beds has been mostly left alone, and I realized that was the bed where I'd left a cover crop until just before planting, pulled it by hand, and then lay the oat leaves on the soil surface. In corn beds I treated that way, the crops showed nitrogen deficiency, but the beans just made more nitrogen-fixing nodules on their roots. After extensive research, I discovered that the form of nitrogen transported through a bean plant when the nitrogen is created by bacteria is different from the form when beans just suck up soil nitrogen, and that bean beetles can't digest the first but can digest the second! So, if you remember, try under fertilizing your beans next year and see if that helps.

Sorry about the link problem. I'm not sure what to do about it, except to hope it gets better on its own. :-) Sticking my head in the sand did seem to work with the Facebook RSS problem I was having after a few weeks....

You're very welcome for the seeds! We've got a lot of thornless blackberries too --- people have stopped accepting them from us. :-)

Comment by anna Sun Jul 24 21:54:32 2011
Found my first little yellow bean bugs the day after I read your post. I pulled out two plants and hope I can keep up with the remaining ones. I picked beans two days ago and didn't see a thing. I wonder if you hadn't written about them if they would have stayed away. Heh.
Comment by Debbi Tue Jul 26 07:58:15 2011
I wouldn't pull out plants if you just have a few bugs --- squish them!
Comment by anna Tue Jul 26 14:12:52 2011

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