Fixing Problems in the Garden
squash is not only good in the kitchen.
Insects and disease find it very tasty in the garden. Squash vine borers, powdery and downy mildew,
and virus diseases can plague all gardeners hoping for that windfall crop.
brought on by prolific rains or humid days and nights, can wipe out the large
leaves needed to maintain the squash plant.
Space your plants correctly, so that you have plenty of air circulation
around the plants. Spraying the plants
regularly with compost tea is also supposed to cut down on this wet weather
Powdery mildew is a
dry weather disease. It will damage
leaves on older plants. Keep the plants
well irrigated by using drip lines along the ground. Apply sprays before either of these mildew
Squash vine borers
and cutworms can cut the vine and kill it just as it begins to blossom. Wrap the stems of squash with aluminum foil
when you put transplants in the ground or after the seedlings are up and
growing. Extend the foil up the stem 3-4
inches and for an inch or two below ground.
This will foil (no pun intended) the pests and stop them from entering
If a borer is
already present, your vine will start to wilt.
You can try to save it by finding the borer entry, either a hole or
split in the stem near the roots. Insert
a wire to stab/kill the culprit, and then pile soil on top of the wounded area
to encourage roots along the stem.
Viruses, spread by
aphids, can ruin a crop quickly. Once a
virus takes hold, there is no cure. The
plant needs to be sacrificed to the garbage.
Don’t compost these plants. Home
composts do not get hot enough to kill the virus.
from Fine Gardening Magazine, is a simple way to keep aphids off the
plants: “You can also use adhesive tape
to remove aphids and other small insects from plant leaves. Simply wrap a long
piece of tape around your fingers (sticky side out), and blot off the
Bees are essential
for pollinating the squash flowers. Keep
insecticides out of and off flowers.
Don’t use any form of pesticide when bees are flying. Bees usually quit their nectar and pollen collecting
in late afternoon or early evening. If
you must use a lethal insecticide, make sure it has no residual killing
One way to outwit
these problems is to just pull up the old, sick, insect infested plants, remove
them to the garbage, and plant a new crop.
Summer squash is ready quickly, in 40 to 50 days from seed, depending on
variety. Look up your first expected
frost date. Most state university
Cooperative Extension Service websites have this information. Subtract 2 months to see if you have time to
raise another small crop of squash this fall.
If you don’t have
time for a fall crop this year, make a note on your calendar next year to plant
a second crop. Try some of the new
hybrids that might also give some mildew and disease resistance. Visit Fine
Gardening’s website for cures for these and many more summer plagues.
For more information
on pest identification and control, consult your State Cooperative Extension