Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Take That, ---uckers!

I don't think there is a garden pest I hate worse than the squash vine borer.  For years I've battled them, and I've done everything imaginable to beat them.  But apparently the vine borers at my house aren't reading the same literature I'm reading because they seem immune to every trick in the book.  I was determined to win though, so this year I decided to experiment with row covers and hand pollination.  My plan was to use the row covers and at the first sign of eggs, pull all of the summer squash plants to keep the eggs from hatching and feeding.  At the least, I could break the reproduction cycle and possibly start fresh next year.  No one surrounding me had a garden so I felt safe with this approach.  Each morning I marched myself out to the garden, uncovered everything, hand pollinated, and then covered it again. You may think to yourself, "Why go to so much trouble?  It's just squash."  Well, I'm a sore loser and very stubborn.  And, it is so disheartening to see beautifully healthy squash plants die before they can even produce any squash. 

My row covers worked, and I was victorious!  I grew zucchinis organically for the first time ever.  Had I known I would succeed, I would have planted yellow squash as well.  Unfortunately the row cover was a cheap Ikea window panel I had on hand.  Eventually the plants outgrew the area the panel could cover and I managed to rip quite a few holes in it, so I had to discard them after a few months.  And, I saw a few borers on the plants after I removed the covers, so I wasn't 100% successful.  But, I got squash for two months or so and I consider that a win.  I'll have to do something better for next year in terms of a row cover, but I'm encouraged.     

And, not only did I get zucchini, but just last week I noticed these sweet babies interspersed in my butternut squash bed.  It must be a volunteer from last year.  It's a zucchino rampicante, also know as a trombone squash.  It's supposed to be vine borer resistant, but it isn't in my garden.  I'm thinking maybe a seed I planted didn't germinate until now.  Who knows?  I'm hoping to harvest a few of these before it gets too cold, and I think I've passed the vine borer season at this point in the year.

Happy that we were getting squash daily, I was crowing about my victory one day on Facebook.  A friend of mine who produces an Earth-friendly video series for the local magazine asked if he could film a video on my battle.  And, being the introvert I am, I agreed.  I actually am an introvert, so this was incredibly out of character for me.  Regardless, here I am in all of my glory!   

Happy homesteading,



  1. I have trouble with squash vine borer so I was very interested in this post! Last year I grew zucchetta squash with great success (that's what I called it, anyway) and we ate and ate until we were sick of it. My cushaw does pretty well too.

    1. Hey, Leigh. They really love cucurbita pepo squashes, which would be summer squashes and some pumpkins. And, they generally leave the cucurbita moschata varieties alone, which would be butternuts and likely your cushaw. If you look up the genus species of squash plants, you will see where each variety falls in the classification.