Ok, I was going to write this whole thing about how I hate vine borers and they just aggravate the hooey out of me at all times. They still do but I'm shaken by something I discovered this morning while looking online for a picture of a vine borer...
What I thought was a vine borer all this time was not!
It's actually a stink bug, which is also not a good thing to have in your garden, so I don't feel bad about having dispatched it quickly with the side of my hand cultivator but I'm just puzzled that I could have thought that these things were vine borers all this time.
(The adult vine borer is a pretty beetle. I've probably allowed them to hang around my plants because they were pretty. No more. Death to all vine borers!)
Ok, those of you who are not gardeners think that I've completely slipped my wig (well, more than I generally do). I reallly reallly dislike planting seeds that actually pop up, grow, and produce things, then to have them cut down in their prime by these stinky borers.
What brought this on? Friend Gina was talking about her husband's approach to squash gardening yesterday, including the observation that you plant one squash for the vine borers to destroy, then plant the rest of them for yourself. After the borers are no longer active. As I've already planted my squash, it reminded me that I needed to go out and apply pesticide on those plants so that this nefarious fate does not come to the garden this year. But first, I did some research (apparently not enough, but some).
I found that if you continually disturb the ground around the squash, the larvae don't have as much of a chance of getting into your plants. At least I think I read that yesterday. As that part of the garden already needed cultivating, I was all about that. I also read that, as the plant starts to "vine", you can bury other parts of it under the soil so that it forms other roots to keep it alive after the borer cuts off the other source of nourishment. While this sounded like a half-hearted effort to keep something alive long enough to mature that one squash hanging on the vine, I figured it wouldn't hurt. Except that only one of my plants was large enough to do that.
So I employed the nuclear option. Sevin Dust.
Ok, now generally I do not use pesticides on my lawn or garden. (Looking at my lawn and its nice crop of plantain and dandelion should tell you that.) But this is war and I am mightily sick and tired of planting squash to have it face an untimely execution by vine borer.
So, I went out last night, at dusk, with my trusty hand cultivator and Sevin Dust. Not that there are many blossoms in my garden for the bees to want to pollinate, but the internets recommended that you wait until after 7 so that the bees have largely retired for the evening and don't take the stuff back to the hive. And no, my squash have no blossoms on them anyway.
I had been planting my trash-picked cement planters and my hanging baskets last night so it was the gloaming when I went out to hand-cultivate and then bomb the squash plants. After an arduous time of stirring up dirt, picking weeds, and batting mosquitoes out of my eyes (man, I hate mosquitoes!), I was ready to apply the Sevin. I went back to the "start" of the row and there, at the base of the plant, I saw what I'd always thought was a vine borer.
It is no exaggeration that I got that thing in an untenable location and squashed the life out of it. I even muttered "Die, die!" under my breath. Such is the dehumanizing effect of war.
I then spread Sevin Dust all over the base of the plants and on the ground I'd recently stirred up around them. I sure hope this works. Some bugs are not worth saving.