Sacrifices in the garden

Sacrifices…Humfph! I lost all of the Australian Butter Squash vines. They were growing so well, with their vines crawling along the ground longer and longer. They were flowering beautifully. You can see them in the photo below on the left – two patches of them growing.

Australian Butter Squash 15 May 2011

I have no idea how well this squash produces or even how it tastes. I planted it last year for the first time and, again, it was growing and flowering beautifully – and then we had a super early freeze last fall (one month early) and I lost everything in the fall garden.

One of the garden pests that I had last year was the spotted cucumber beetle. I was keeping my eyes open this spring for that little bugger so I could gain the upper hand early on. I found them quite early on the young Australian Butter Squash leaves, but by hand picking then was able to get them under control. They were easiest to catch in the early morning when they are still sleepy and slow.

I also was keeping my eyes peeled for another squash pest – the Squash Vine Borer. I was able to eliminate two adults in the moth stage (adults look more like a bee or wasp to me) and I thought it would be smooth sailing from there – wrong! I started noticing one of the vines wilting and before I knew what hit me, I could see there was damage at the base of the stem and the larva was already in my vines. UGH!

Squash vine borer damage

I pulled up the first vines this past Sunday. I checked the bases of the  second patch  of vines and they looked alright, but I noticed they were really wilting a few days later. Yup – you guessed it, they were already infested! I pulled those vines out on Thursday.

Dang it!

I have learned a few things while I was searching the internet trying to find some sites to reference for this post. It seems I could have buried the vine at a few points to encourage root development so the plant would not have been so affected by the borer once I found them. I could have then removed the area at the base that had all the damage and the vine might have continues to grow and produce (next time I will try that!). Another suggesting was to wrap the base of the vines with aluminum foil. Aluminum foil always used to help us get better reception on those old TV rabbit ears, why now bring the rabbit ears out in the garden too. Heck, the old rabbit ears could be used a sculpture (yes, I still have them even though we don’t use them!) Maybe the squash vine borers will get the message.

I had a real problem with zucchini plants a few years ago. I know now it was those dang squash vine borers, but at the time I thought the ants had just taken up residence in the vine – NOPE, now I know! Yesterday I had to pull up a mound of zucchini – it was those squash vine borers.

It is pretty late in our spring planting season here. I know I could plant okra, but my neighbor grows enough for both of us, so I think I will just plant some more of those Southern-type Peas that I mentioned in a post a few days ago. I did talk to my neighbor again to see if he could give me any more information on the proper name for the pea or any information that might guild me to search out the information. During our conversation he mentioned that they always called them “Zipper Peas” – ding ding ding ding. Got it. Zipper Peas.  I will do a bit more research and see what I have. They are also known as “cowpeas”

I will also be planting more zucchini!

Have you ever had issues with squash vine borers? Let me know what worked for you!

Sincerely, Emily

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11 Responses to Sacrifices in the garden

  1. Dani says:

    I find that I get mildew on my zucchini / squash plants – absolute pest. Oh, and my son with a weed eater (trimmer)… fatal!

  2. annie says:

    I inject the stems of the infected plants with a particular species of nematode that attack the borers. It’s kind of amazing how well this works.

    The first time I did it was in TN when one of the gardens I managed for a client, which had a ton of squash, got seriously impacted by the borers. I was desperate so I ordered these nematodes from Garden’s Alive (which I did not think would work). They come in a sponge and you squeeze the sponge out into water, draw the mix up into a veterinary syringe and inject the stems. These plants were 75-80% dead and they all survived and started growing again. It was crazy. I now try to buy the nematodes locally because Garden’s Alive takes forever to get an order processed so even if you’ve chosen overnight shipping you might miss your window of opportunity to cure the squashes.

    • Annie, THANKS! this is great info. I know a few garden places that sell nematodes here. I have used them in the yard before to help reduce flea and tick population. I will try anything to save the remaining squash I have. THANKS AGAIN!!!

      • annie says:

        You’ll want to make sure you get the right species. Hopefully the people who work at the garden place know what they’re talking about (although in my experience they sometimes act like they do when they don’t). Gardens Alive sells Heterorhabditis bacteriophora, but that may be an improved strain unique to them. Either way, often on the package, it tells what insects they’ll attack.

      • Thanks Annie. I just pulled to more mounds of zucchini up today. That is very painful to do. I have yet to have a good season with zucchini here in Texas.

  3. Zonnah says:

    Nope, but now I am going to keep an eye out for them.

  4. Wendy Smoak says:

    They got my butter squash, too. 😦 I took my revenge though, and fed the nasty little things to the chickens!

  5. Pingback: Zucchini Pickles | Sincerely, Emily

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