Q. How can I prevent bean weevils from getting into beans that I grow for drying? I need ideas.
-- H. K. of Coulterville
A. Bean weevils lay eggs on maturing bean pods in the fall after most of the beans have matured. You can spray rotenone insecticide on the maturing beans in late August or early September. This will keep of most but not all of the weevils from laying eggs. Usually 1 to 2 percent of the beans will be infested when they are harvested and you may find a few adults or larvae also can make it into the harvest as well. If the beans are stored at room temperature, the eggs will hatch and the weevils will grow and reproduce as long as there are beans to feed on.
You can kill the eggs with either a hot treatment or a cold treatment directly after harvest. To kill the pests with heat, place shelled beans in a layer 1 inch deep on a cookie sheet, heat in the oven at 120 degrees for 20 minutes, then store the beans in airtight containers in a cool place.
Or, you can store the shelled beans in airtight containers in the freezer. Two weeks at minus 10 degrees will kill the weevil eggs.
Q. Our pumpkins this year were so bitter that we had to compost them. We planted them on schedule just like we did every other year and they turned orange just like they did every other year. They were fine for jack-'o-lanterns. What happened?
-- B. N. of Collinsville
A. Slow growth caused by drought and insufficient nitrogen can concentrate strong flavors and will reduce the production of sugars. You need to water the pumpkins regularly and provide slow-release nitrogen from organic matter. The organic matter will also hold water longer.
Pumpkins also need a long season or warm weather not long weeks of heat above 100 degrees. To help them out when temperatures this extreme hit, shade them with a woven burlap material.
Q. We would like to know if there are any hull-less pumpkin and sunflower seeds that we could toast and salt. Do you know of any?
-- C. L. of Belleville
A. I have searched everywhere for your hull-less sunflowers and came up with none. Every variety of sunflowers has a hull that you have to break before eating.
But with pumpkins seeds, there is one variety with Harris Seed Co. that is listed as Lady Godiva, which is a smaller pumpkin with "naked seeds" without a shell. The variety should be easy to remember.
Charles Giedeman is a local contributing writer. Send your gardening questions to Lifestyle Editor Pat Kuhl, Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427.
Do it now
TREES: Prevent your young trees from frost cracks and sunscald by wrapping the trunks starting at the base of the tree upward to the scaffold limbs with a corrugated tree wrap with an asphalt center. Hold this wrap in place with two rounds of masking tape.
PRUNING: Prune out diseased, dead, and damaged branches from trees and shrubs.