Here in Dallas Texas we had a very mild Winter ,which unfortunately means that my nemesis; the evil squash/stink bug will rule the garden. Unfortunately the squash vine borer will follow on his heels with her dastardly squash killing plans. The squash vine borer is a moth that lays her eggs at the base of the squash plants. The eggs hatch and bore into the stem eating the plant from the inside out.
Every gardener needs their own plan of action if they are going to foil the plans of these two wicked garden pests. While I have had some success with things in the past, this year I am planning a full frontal assault, an attack to their flank and a surprise ambush under the cover of darkness from a skilled garden ally. Let me lay out my battle plan step by step for you. If you live up north, once you get through the spring action of the squash vine borer you are golden. If you live down south like me, lucky you, you get another special appearance of the vine borer again in the Fall! Northerners, I can hear you snickering. That is not nice.
THE GARDEN BATTLE PLAN:
First I am going to provide some decoy squash. This is yellow squash and zucchini that I never plan on eating. These decoy plants are set around the perimeter of the garden by seed in early Spring. The idea is that my enemy will be so busy enjoying these plants that they will leave my interior plants alone. Keep reading to see how I will make these interior plants a lot less desirable. As my little plants grow I will pot them up into bigger pots and they will get a protective “field dressing”, so to speak. This “dressing” is made out of either strips of garden frost cloth or gauze and will be wrapped around the stock at the base of each plant. I made the cloth strip stick with a drop of tacky glue.
When I finally sink my plants in my garden beds I will let this “field dressing” go a bit below the soil line. Fast forward to the fly by from my nemesis; the squash vine borer. She will take one look at this gauzy stuff placed strategically right where she wants to lay her eggs and say, “Oh, dear, what is this I see? This is obviously NOT a place I want to lay my future offspring!” Then she will fly away and lay her eggs on the decoy squash plants. I know, brilliant! You are probably thinking, at this point, that it is rather strange and a bit creepy that I lay awake thinking up these schemes, but my pride is still smarting from the squash defeat of 2014. I don’t like to be defeated, it stinks, literally in this case! It also leaves my kids hungry, which is unacceptable to me.
Back to the battle plan. Right around the time I am sinking my squash plants out in the garden,
I will be mixing up a sprayer full of Bt-Bacillus thuringiensis that is. If any moth is foolish enough to lay her eggs above the “field dressing line” her larvae will hatch and eat into the stem of the plant at the same time ingesting the bacteria that will be it’s undoing. Maw ha ha! The Bt will have to be reapplied after each rain. Don’t worry Bt is organic and safe even for the toads in the garden.
Speaking of toads, let me introduce you to my evening ally in the garden. The garden toad is a voracious eater of insects. With a tongue that moves at 15/100th of a second he is well equipped for it. So how do I make sure I have lots of these great insect eaters on my side? No, I am not going to steal them from the downspouts of my neighbors. Although,to be honest, that kind of sounds like something I would do. I can just see the police spot light shining brightly for all the world to see, me, creeping around my neighbors downspout in the middle of the night. Perhaps attracting them to me would be a better idea! I am going to clean up and put a vacancy sign on my toad abode. See how my kids and I created our toad abode http://bloomwhereyourplanted.com/preparing-now-to-defeat-my-garden-nemesis/
Since we had already created a Toad Abode complete with a soaking pool, in the Fall, all we had to do is clean it up and keep it filled with water. If you are worried about breeding mosquitoes the Bti dunks, available at any garden store, can be used for this. Don’t worry it will not harm your best garden ally.
I also plan on doing a sweep of the garden each week with two other weapons in my arsenal; duck tape and insecticidal soap spray. A wrapping of duct tape around your fingers, sticky side out, makes a great egg collecting tool.
The eggs can’t be missed as they are reddish brown in color. If laid by the squash/stink bug they will be in clumps on the underside of the leaves. If laid by the vine moth borer they will be single tiny eggs near the stock of the plant where it meets the ground.
At the end of the season last year I spied an interesting comment about self rising flour being useful against squash bugs. While I have not had much experience with this weapon, the thought of my nemesis swelling uncontrollably is really too good to pass up. You can be sure I will be adding that to my arsenal this year. I am all set up with an old makeup brush and an empty foundation powder container. If you are a guy reading this and you have NO idea what these things are than find the nearest female, let her enlighten you.
My last bit of back up strategy is to have a fresh supply of reinforcements on hand just in case all my best laid plans go awry. What I mean by this is; that I will have little squash and zucchini plants growing in pots ready to replace any that succumb to the enemy. I feel that this is a comprehensive battle plan, but if you see a gap in my defenses please point it out in the comments so that we can all win the war and eat lots of yellow squash this Spring/Summer!
This post was shared at http://oursimplelife-sc.com/simple-homestead-blog-hop-50/ and Simple Homestead Blog Hop