I’ve heard that people run from gardeners because they don’t want to be given any more zucchini? Well, that never happens to me. I’m guessing it’s mostly non-organic gardeners that have extra squash to pawn off.
So far, every time I grow zucchini or any other squash, I get a few fruits, then the squash vine borers get to the plant and it dies.
I’ve read that there are no squash vine borers on the west coast of the United States. I’m guessing that’s where the organic summer squash I see at Whole Foods comes from. Maybe trying to grow it here in Texas in a sustained way is a fools errand. But, I’m committed to figuring this out. If you have any tips, please let me know in the comments.
Here is a summary of what I’ve tried and the results:
I’ve seen several places online where I am advised to wrap the stems of the squash plant with aluminum foil so that the borers cannot lay eggs in or near the stem. I did try this, and I may not have done it correctly, but it was not effective for me.
Once you see the damage of the dreaded squash vine borer, you can cut into the plant and remove the offenders. This is recognized as a last ditch effort to save the plant, so it isn’t surprising that I haven’t had convincing success with this method.
Floating Row Covers:
This is what I am trying right now. Here is what it looks like:
I’m not sure if I have it covered securely enough because the row cover material I had is not really wide enough, but it is what I had. Also, if you choose to use a row cover, you have to remember to hand pollinate your squash. Plus, you’ll have to water your plants yourself since the rain won’t get through.
Planting Near Aromatic Crops:
I read somewhere that planting the squash where cucumbers would grow over the top of them would confuse the borers and protect the squash. Also, if you plant the squash near other plants like onions or herbs, the strong aroma would do the same thing.
This year I planted squash near cucumbers (which didn’t do very well) and near my big oregano plant.
The plants did stay in tact longer than in previous years, but the still succumbed to borers pretty quickly.
Here are some methods that I found doing research for this article that I haven’t tried yet:
Planting “Trap” Crops. Pick a variety of squash that is more succeptible variety of squash and plant it nearby the variety you’re actully trying to produce. (Blue Hubbard Squash is said to be the most attractive)
Black Pepper. Sprinkle black pepper around the vines as a repellant.
Continuous Planting; One article I read said to plant squash every three weeks so that you could just harvest a bit from each crop and always have a supply before the plant dies from squash vine borers. Who has space for that though?
Hygiene. Clean up all debris after you harvest your squash plant for the last time and are removing the plant. You don’t need to leave anything there to attract more pests.
Crop Rotation: Don’t plant squash in the same place two years in a row. Some places said to have a three year rotation schedule.
I will persevere. I think as long as I travel as much as I do right now it will continue to be a challenge. The borer eggs are visible and can be removed, but that’s a lot of consistent effort and if you are away from the garden for a few days you can’t keep that up.
My quest for a great squash crop continues! I’d love to hear your comments and suggestions.