Q: I moved to Vancouver about a year ago. In the spring I planted a vegetable garden. When I was pulling up the old lettuce stalks I noticed a large number of small beetles in the soil. I have also noticed them in my neighbour's garden. Can you recommend something safe to get rid of them? Sandy Turoldo via email A: It's unusual to see a large number of beetles congregating in the soil. But ants do.
Is it possible these are ants? Ants sometimes nest in soil, especially sandy soil. You could disrupt them by giving the area a very good digging and moving some of the soil elsewhere.
Or persuade them to move by pouring very hot water into the nest. You do need extreme care to avoid spilling scalding water on your way to the action zone. Children and pets should be kept well away.
I wonder if these beetles have a squared-off snout? If so, they may be weevils.
Weevils can harm vegetables. They are very slow, nocturnal movers and can easily be hand-picked if trapped under moist sheets of newspaper and uncovered in daytime.
The organic treatment for weevils is to order predatory nematodes in July from a garden centre. Nematodes are watered into the soil. Instructions come with the kit.
But if these really are beetles it might be useful to ask yourself if these bugs are doing harm. Many soil insects are beneficial.
Have you noticed damage on your lettuces that could be attributed to the beetles? If all they touched were the old lettuce stalks, perhaps they were just scavenging. Has your neighbour complained to you about the beetles damaging anything in her/his garden? If there's no evidence the beetles are doing damage, it's a lot of extra work for little reward to try to eradicate them. Also, since they're already in your neighbours yard anyway, these little beasties are likely to travel under the fence and re-occupy your soil.
Q: I have some Scarlet Emperor runner beans that ended up not getting picked?
Can I plant these next year? If so, what would I have to do with them over the winter? Jimmyymac via email
A: Lots of gardeners save bean seed. Just wait until the pods are very dry. It's best if the pods can dry out on the plant. Then pick them and bring them inside, shell the beans and spread them out on a flat surface (plate, tray etc.) The empty pods can be composted or sent to green waste.
When the beans are very, very dry put them in an airtight jar or tin and put them in the refrigerator over the winter. The refrigerator isn't essential, but they keep better there because the temperature is more stable than it is in the house.
It's very important the beans are completely dry because if they're the least bit moist, they can get fungus infection that rots them. So take your time before packaging them up.
Q: When is the best time to prune my Nelly Moser clematis? Margaret Kilbrai via email
A: The time to prune your Nelly Moser clematis is in late winter or very early spring. You can cut it down to 12 inches (30 cm) above ground level. It will grow fast and flower in late spring to early summer.
. Anne Marrison is happy to answer garden questions. Send them to her via firstname.lastname@example.org.
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