squash bugs

BEWARE Squash Predators

It’s squash season in most gardens and if you ask me, this is one beautiful plant. Planted next to one of their favorite companions–corn–they are quite happy.

school squash and corn

But one must be vigilant, because there are critters out there aiming to devour squash plants and can do so in a matter of days. And the results can be devastating.

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For those of you who have never seen a squash bug and wouldn’t know how to spot one if he were crawling along your planter, take a good long gander…

squash bugs

Ugly. Plain and simple.  These bugs are not pretty and they’re ruthless in their attack.  (Apparently summer squash is one of their favorites.)  They also lay eggs.  Check the undersides of your leaves for these telltale signs you might have a problem. More

Aluminum Foil Recycled in the Garden

Okay, here’s an interesting take on squash bug prevention that I recently read in one of my garden magazines.  According to the article, it says that if you wrap the stem of your squash plants with aluminum foil, the squash bugs will not crawl up and over it to get to your plants.  (This is assuming these critters don’t fly, right?  Or leap from plant to plant.)

AWESOME!  I mean, I had a tough spring season this year battling these bugs and I’m all for anything that will prevent them organically.  Well you know I ran right out to my garden and try this new tactic.  After all, I have pumpkins in process, squash and zucchini newly planted….  Why, I’m a veritable billboard for this technique!  (And I do love to learn new methods for organic pest prevention in the garden.)

Grabbing the sheet of aluminum I used last night to cover my pork while reducing a delicious Thai sauce, I headed out to my garden prepared to “wrap and roll,” baby!  We’d start with the pumpkins, I decided, since they were the largest and most at risk.  Tearing the foil into strips, I squatted down and realized at once–we had a problem. 

No, not a squash bug problem.  A wrapping problem.  Peering down at my sprawling pumpkin plant vining its way into adjacent rows I thought, “How in the heck am I going to be able to wrap it all?”  We’re not talking one little stem that pokes up from the ground making this a simple procedure–no, no!  We’re talking “I have pumpkin vines all over the ground and spreading!”

Now what?

Plan A, but with some modification.  If the idea is to prevent the little beasts from crawling up and onto my plant, well then I was going to wrap as much stem as I feasibly could.  At the least this should discourage them from running the length of my vines, right?  Perhaps the shiny material will dissuade them altogether?

Hmph.  I have no idea.  This is an experiment in progress.  Right now my outlook remains positive but check back in a month to see if this remains the case. 🙂

Fiddling with Floating Row Covers

And I do mean fiddling, because as a first-timer using this method, I frankly have no idea what I’m doing.  But I’m desperate.  The squash bugs were BAD this year.  They ate my squash, my zucchini–they’re even after my watermelon as we speak!   They’re beasts, pure and simple.  Hungry beasts.  And with our pumpkin seeds freshly planted, I don’t want to take the chance of losing a single one to squash bugs.  (The kids would never forgive me!)  As to these barren looking beds of mine you’ll have to trust me.  There are seeds under there.

But how does one work these floating row covers to prevent squash bugs, exactly?  I’ve seen pictures.  I know they’re supposed to allow light and water in while keeping bugs out.  Hopefully they’re allowing a nice breeze to whistle through, else we run into a fungus problem.  Then of course there are the afternoon thunderstorms to consider.  When the wind picks up around these parts of Florida, it usually picks up my row covers right along with it!  Anchor pins are not what they’re cracked up to be.  My rock weights don’t always work, either.  Mother Nature is a tough old broad.

So setting my metal half-moons in the dirt, I then cover them with an ultra sheer fabric cover.  That is what a floating row cover is, right?  (Anyone feel free to jump in here.) This should be simple…

After anchoring the ends with pins and rocks, I can only hope it will withstand the winds of summer.  Will this row cover be here when I return this afternoon?  Weather gal did forecast rain for today…

But gazing upon my handiwork, I think really?  Or will I come home to find the white fabric clear across the street in the neighbor’s yard?

That’s the question–or problem, depending on how you like to look at these things. 🙂  How about challenge.  Let’s say we forget all this “problem” talk and move on to the challenge.  The thrill of the game, the test of wills, the exciting match between myself and Mother Nature.  So long as she doesn’t hurl a hurricane my way, I at least stand a chance, don’t you think?

We’ll see.  Stay tuned!

Watch Out for Squash Bugs!

Ashley has some beautiful squash growing in her garden.  Actually, she has a lot of beautiful EVERYTHING growing in her garden–just look at this overflow of flourishing foliage!

But she must be vigilant, because squash bugs can devastate a squash plant in no time.  I should know–look what they’ve done to my compost squash!  Before:

And now for the horrible ruins left in their aftermath:

Do you think they’ve moved on since eating me out of compost and squash?  Of course not.  For those of you who have never seen a squash bug and wouldn’t know how to spot one if he were crawling along your planter, take a good long gander…

Ugly.  Plain and simple.  These bugs are not pretty and they’re ruthless in their attack.  (Apparently summer squash is one of their favorites.)  They also lay eggs.  Check the undersides of your leaves for these telltale signs you might have a problem.

 Yes, I realize I’ve scared some of you clear out of the garden with these photos, but organic gardening requires vigilance and stiff spines.  Sure it would be easier to spray these marauders, but then you’d be forced to consume toxic chemicals–and you don’t want to consume poison.  I mean, isn’t eating healthy part of the gardening process? 

It is.  But gardening is also fun, so ask one of your kids to handle the duty of bug dispatch (squash em, Danno).  They enjoy it far more than you do!  Just be sure they’re wearing gloves.  You can also try planting marigold nearby, as squash bugs tend to keep their distance from these golden glories. 

On to a more postitive note (though still dealing with squash), Julie’s garden is thriving as well!  Yes, that’s squash AND zucchini in her garden.  Vigilance…  Vigilance…

Though she has a bit of explaining to do. 

“Julie?”  I mean, I’m all about garden decoration, but antlers? 

Seems our theme is a bit off…