Just when you think you’ve got a great, strong set of vines going, you look out on your garden one July afternoon, and see this. Your first thought is, “wait a minute, I thought I watered this morning…” Then you remember that you actually DID. But you go water them again anyway because you figure it is just so ridiculously hot, how could any veggie plant withstand it?
While you’re watering away, there’s a grub gnawing away at the inside of the squash vine (and I imagine he’s laughing too…can you tell I anthropomorphize garden pests? Helps me cope…). My dad anthropomorphizes too, but in this case he speaks of the squash plant “writing and twisting” as if it were in pain from the attack. It all starts with the squash vine borer moth. Looks cool, but isn’t.
You’ll see this wasp-looking thing casually flying around your garden acting like it’s just checking it out, but it’s really laying eggs at the base of the vines. They hatch, then bore away and leave frass (a mealy waste residue) on the outside of the vine, right near the base…ick…
In the past, I’d tried cutting open vines and smushing the borers. But by the time they make themselves known the plants are so far gone that they’ll only produce a few more squash. However, I read about injecting beneficial nematodes into the vines…and this is what I ordered from a gardening catalog:
Inside each syringe was a little sponge, full of nematodes. I have no idea what a
nematode looks like or how big it is, but I do know that after injecting the squash vines with the solution, the vines continued to grow and produce lots (and lots and lots) of pattypan squash. This coming season I’m stocking up on the nematodes.