Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Let's work together on this, America!

I realize I probably seem a little obsessed with the squash vine borers, but come on! A couple of squash plants could provide us with vegetable dishes for every meal of the summer if left to their full potential. But all it takes is one or two tiny worms to kill a whole plant.

I've officially given up on squash round one. The plant I thought was doing the best failed to bounce back from its daily wilt today (6/4), so I pulled it and slit open its stem to find this guy

and his little brother.

The round-two squash seedlings are doing well and will go in the ground soon. But that's really just an appeasement strategy. What we need is a solution. And today I'm stepping up to the plate to provide the leadership needed to find one.

The Crazy Billionaire X-Prize for Squash Vine Borer Abatement

To the person or team who concocts a reliable method for preventing the infestation of food crops of the family Cucurbitaceae by the larvae of Melittia Cucurbitae I will award a homemade cookbook containing my family's many favorite recipes for the preparation of squash and zucchini. Details of the winning method or invention will be published on this Web site under Creative Commons license for the good of all humankind.

If we can put a man on the moon and make a square watermelon, we can beat this little worm, people. Let me get you started with a couple of ideas:

1. Somehow that moth knows a squash plant when it sees, or smells, it. I don't know if its pheremones or what, but can't we concentrate it, bottle that shit and spray it on a glue trap? Or how about a big fake squash plant covered in glue -- something that will really grab hold of the old ovipositor and never let go.

2. I've noticed my squash plants tend to have ants crawling on them. Now if Monsanto can genetically engineer a potato that will kill a potato beetle, why not an ant that loves to crack open and eat delicious moth eggs?

Anyway, that's just spitballin'. I'm sure you'll surprise me with something better, gardeners of the world.

Let's do this.

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Blogger jaireaux said...

organically? you know there are extremely effective chemicals that will squash this particular problem.

sevin dust is your friend.

June 10, 2008 2:13 PM  
Blogger Kelly said...

Ha! You joker ...

June 15, 2008 8:36 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

Do you have them on all of your varieties? I keep hearing to try butternuts because of resistance so this year I gave it a shot, so far the acorn squash is the only victim. The nutterbuts are too young right now to really tell. The cukes have yet to go down so we will see.

Ever try Bt's? I don't know which one is for squashes, maybe kurstaki. I have read that you need to apply continually, and that would be why I have not tried it.

June 18, 2008 9:00 PM  
Blogger Kelly said...

I planted butternuts as a second string last year, but they got them too. Then I had a pretty good run with Tromboncino late in the season, but they succumbed as well.

I've dowsed the stems with my old, probably stale, bottle of Bt on a couple of occasions. I've never injected it. It may have helped, but it's hard to tell.

I've got a zuke and a butternut seedling inside right now ready to plant, but I'm afraid they'll cook if I put them out in this heat.

June 18, 2008 9:16 PM  
Blogger Lancashire rose said...

I think the only answer is to get down on your hands and knees every morning and remove those little brown eggs. I had good success with that this year and despite being away for a month I have 2 that have survived. The eggs are easy to see but the moth lays them all over and is cute about laying them right at the soil level or slightly below. I also wrap the stems with panti hose so they can't get to that spot.

June 19, 2008 6:56 AM  
Blogger Kelly said...

Yep, I was out there daily in the spring pulling off eggs, I like to think it prolonged the crop, but it only takes one hatched egg to do the job. I may have to try stem wrapping with my next round.

June 19, 2008 10:29 AM  
Blogger Karin said...

I performed "surgery" on my zuke plants with a very sharp paring knife and pulled the grubs out. I figured the plant was toast anyway, right? So far, so good. I made cuts all over the stem, and tried to find and remove all of the grubs. This was several weeks ago and the plants seem to be thriving.

June 26, 2008 3:27 PM  

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