Despite the tough gardening conditions, I hope you'll learn to love gardening at your new home. I've gardened with heavy clay soil for many years, and it can be overcome with lots and lots of compost. Every fall, I still haul in bags of leaves that my neighbors have put out on the curb. Now, about the Japanese beetles... With two vacant lots next door, your garden is the best restaurant in the neighborhood for those rotten little herbivores. Spraying won't help, and would probably just put the hummingbirds and butterflies at risk. The best remedy is to keep a bucket with soapy water at your side when you're in the garden. Pick the beetles off by hand and drop them into the water. Yes, it's gross. But I've found that an aggressive drowning expedition early in the season reduces their population substantially later on.
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