Summer Squash And The Insects That Love Them.

The squash is in full swing at One Squirrely Farm.  I walk through my garden daily to monitor each plant.  I’m either picking ripe fruit or observing the health of the plants.

I noticed the other day that one of  my squash plants was looking poorly.  Upon investigation I found the culprit, I think?

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Notice the wilting of the leaves towards the middle of the plant.

Wilting leaves are a good indication that “Houston We Got a Problem”.

This hole in the stalk is a big clue.

This hole in the stalk is a big clue.

More signs of the squash vine borer.

More signs of the squash vine borer.

This hole in the stalk is from the Squash Vine Borer, Got Him!!! Or at least I thought…..

Lo and behold….

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There’s that Stinker!!!!!!!

Its bad enough to find a stink bug, but to find a stink bug mating in your garden is even worse.  So what to do?  I try very hard each year to NOT use pesticides.  I’d rather keep it organic, so I grab my handy container of (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diatomaceous_earth) Diatomaceous Earth.

Diatomaceous Earth is natural but it will kill the good bugs too.  So I was careful to sprinkle it at the base of the plant and the ground near the base of the plant, paying close attention to not get it on the blooms (don’t want to kill the bees).

At last check the squash bugs had moved on, or hopefully died.  The only way to kill the Vine borer is to cut off the effected stalk, cut the stalk and find the borer and kill them.

Usually you can pack dirt around the area where the worm bored its way into the plant and it will recover.

Pest in your garden is not the end of the world, once the squash plant has died out, I will clean up the remnants and put them in the burn pile, just in case someone left eggs for next years.

Read more about Vine Borers and Squash Bugs here:  http://www.carolinafarmstewards.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/5-ATTRA-Squash-Bugs-and-Vine-Borers.pdf

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5 BEST VEGGIES TO PLANT IN THE SOUTHEAST

1. TOMATO

The tomato has to be the number one planted vegetable in the south.  For me its definitely my number one.  It doesn’t matter what type of tomato you are planting, they love the hot humid weather here.  My favorites are listed below:

Cherokee Black – heirloom – hands down best tomato sandwich you ever had.

Rutgers – Best canning tomato

Marion – Tied for best canning tomato

Sweet 100 – Best cherry tomato

I’ve plant 3 Roma tomatoes this year because I heard they make the best sauces.  I will let you know if they are worthy to be listed.  But their reviews have been really good for a couple of gardening friends.

2. CUCUMBERS

For me pickling is on the top of my priority list.  Preserving the fruit of my labor is huge to me. Of course we all know that the only way to preserve Cucumbers are to pickle them.  But in the summer when they are fresh out of the garden there is nothing better than to peel and slice a cuke, with salt and pepper, the first one rarely makes it to the table. I plant burpless and pickling cukes each year and they do just fine.

3.Yellow Straight Neck or Crooked Neck Squash

I have never figured out the difference between the two, other than one is straight and the other is curved.  Either way you can’t go wrong with summer squash.  I plant twice a year.  We’re lucky here and our growing season is long enough that once the first plants peter out you have time to plant a new crop.  I prefer to plant mine in hills.  Three seeds to a hill.

4. Okra

By far my favorite vegetable to grow and eat.  Okra is the perfect vegetable to grow in the south and it produces fruit for months and months.  I pickle a lot of my okra, I freeze whole pods to put in soups and speckle butter beans, I also bread it and freeze it for consumption in the winter. Once its starts producing fruit you have to cut it everyday because the pods grow so fast.  You can’t let the pods get too big, the bigger they get the tougher they get.  I can’t say enough about this veggie.

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4. Peppers

All peppers grow well here in the south.  Bell peppers, jalapeno’s, banana peppers etc.  I grow them, slice them and freeze them for all types of dishes.  They freeze really well and of course you can pickle them too.  A very versatile fruit that you can use all year.  When growing peppers in the south wait till the ground warms up well before planting them.  They do not like cool temps at night.

This is my top 5, but each gardener has their favorites.  The trick is to pick plants that like where they live.  And timing plays a big part too.  For instance, lettuce doesn’t do well in our summers even in the shade.  We do well planting them in the fall because we don’t really have a spring, well maybe we have one day of spring and then straight into summer.  Happy Gardening.