Monday, August 4, 2008

Round 2

I'm about to kick it with the Scientific Method, 7th-grade style. So get ready.

1. Question: Is there something about cantaloupe plants that cause them to repel Squash Vine Borer moths? If so, could that trait be used to protect other plants from SVB infestation?

2. Research: Cantaloupe is theoretically one of the preferred victims of the Squash Vine Borer. However, cantaloupe in the garden have remained completely untouched by SVBs this year, even as squash have been completely decimated. It has been observed that while the cantaloupe vines look almost identical to squash vines, they tend to exude a strong sweet odor that squash plants lack.

3. Hypothesis: Cantaloupe vines could be used as either a cover or camouflage to prevent SVB moths from laying eggs on susceptible squash plants.

4. Design experiment: Plant a squash plant between two hills and among the spreading vines of cantaloupe plants. Plant a control squash nearby, but away from the cantaloupe. Watch for signs of SVB egg-laying and larvae infestation in both plants.

5. Conduct experiment: Two identical acorn squash plants were purchased on July  25th at the Natural Gardener. While in the store, investigator's wife embarrassed him by trying to take sneaky photo of investigator and John Dromgoole, causing investigator to retreat to the windchime department.

One squash was planted  midway between two established Ambrosia cantaloupe plants in a hole amended with cottonseed meal and kelp meal.

Where's Waldo?

The other squash plant was planted in a similarly-amended hole 5 feet away in a bed that currently has one basil plant in it.

6. Record data:

7. Draw conclusions:

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Blogger CeeCee said...

Great idea! Doggone those science teachers, teaching us something we might use in the future. I hope you're on to something.

"While in the store, investigator's wife embarrassed him by trying to take sneaky photo of investigator and John Dromgoole, causing investigator to retreat to the windchime department." LOL!! At least you're brave enough to talk to him. I always want to, but feel like I'll sound like a complete idiot.

August 4, 2008 9:09 AM  
Blogger Melanie said...

Wow, that's adorably nerdy.

Hey, so I was wondering: should I try to nurse my poor, sad tomato plants/squirrel buffets through the fall in hopes that they'll fruit again, or should I just rip them out and plant a fall garden?

August 4, 2008 10:32 AM  
Blogger Matt & Carrie said...

Surprising to me, but I planted some butternut squash and it hasn't been touched. All my Zucchini is long gone, but the butternut is thriving. It too grows in running vine form rather than the more bushy look that the zucc had.

Maybe hypothesis should be type of vine (running vs. bushy).

And I just realized that butternut is a winter plant, but hey, it is kicking it in 100+ days.

August 4, 2008 10:58 AM  
Blogger Kelly said...

CeeCee, I actually didn't talk to him -- he seems kind of gruff -- but I had a good conversation about squash with another guy there named Neil who was very helpful.

Melanie, there are those who would say to try that, but I've given up on the idea. I'm not planning on planting anything for Fall until we get a break from the heat.

Matt, I actually hand pollinated our first butternut this morning. The variety I planted is advertised as compact and looks pretty bushy. But that's an interesting thought -- the bushier squash have such fat vines and those big hollow stems on the leaves, they seem like easier eating for larvae.

Next to the butternut I have a tromboncino, which is very viny, so I'll see how they do comparatively.

August 4, 2008 12:16 PM  
Blogger Meg said...

Scientific gardening--I love it. I'll be curious to see your results. I typically bury vines at intervals and just try to be vigilant with the squash enemies, but it would be way better to just distract them all with loads of cantaloupe.

August 4, 2008 12:32 PM  
Blogger Annie in Austin said...

This is wonderful, Kelly - and I'm interested in the results, even though the squirrels would take bites out of any squash or cantaloupes before they were ripe.

I've talked to John Dromgoole a couple of times, and on each occasion felt as if my tongue had suddenly grown too large for my mouth, my lips were going numb and the numbness was spreading up toward my brain. He's incredibly patient with callers to his radio show, so maybe it was overreaction or awe on my part.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

August 4, 2008 1:54 PM  

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