JUNE IS HERE AND SO IS THE SQUASH VINE BORE.

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Posted by Gordon | Posted in News | Posted on 03-06-2011

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I saw the first squash moth today but I am sure there were others before.  I checked the squash vines and could not find any frass so I am assuming that not too much damage has been done.  Our defensive action needs to be to bury the stems of the squash plants into the dirt so they can root and continue to supply nutrients and water to the plants as they produce our squash. If we wait until the plants start to wilt – it will be too late.  Our squash is doing well so let’s start putting soil on the vines.  I had hoped that the barrier we had placed around the vines would discourage the moth but I watched her check out and reject the cucumbers and fly over to the barrier and over she went.  It is too bad such a beautiful moth causes such havoc in the garden.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Squash_vine_borer

 

 

This moth lays her eggs in the hollow stems of the squash plant leaves.  When the eggs hatch, the larvae migrate down into the main vine close to where the vine comes out of the ground.  There is an old wives tail that the gardener can slit the vine and pick the grub out thus saving the vine.  That seldom works because there are always grubs that are missed.  What needs to be done is that the stems should be covered with dirt and allowed to root.  Once re-rooted, the original portion of the vine which now contains the grubs and is covered with frass (excrement) from the grub can be cut off and dispatched.  It is important that these grubs not be left in the garden where they will produce moths for next years crop of squash.  Remove the portion of the plant that is infected.  Another control is to plant successive plantings of squash plants 5 days apart and pull the vines as they become host to the moth grub.  The moths prefer the more mature vines so they will select the older vines.  We have not planted successive plantings of squash but we need to start.  A third approach is to plant solid steamed varieties of squash.  These would include butternut squash (a favorite of mine) and Zacchetta rampicante (available from Territorial Seeds, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, The Cook’s Garden, FedCo Seeds, Renee’s Garden Seeds, and West Coast Seeds. ) (http://agsyst.wsu.edu/Zucchetta.html).

 

TOMATOES ARE REALLY STARTING TO REDDEN – LUNCH TIME!

I think it is time to consider another garden gathering where we can sample the fruits of our labor.  I am particularly interested in a Southern Wonder Bread and tomato sandwich with a cucumber salad and sweetened iced tea.  A true Southern lunch.  What do you all think.  If you like the idea, let me know and we will plan it for a warm June day.  It is not the healthiest thing we can do but what the heck, it’s only once.  I think we will have enough tomatoes to invite a few guest.

 

TODAY:

Today I watered everything for 4 hours.  I noticed how well the berries are doing.  Most are sending out canes (2 to 3 feet) to bear fruit for next year.  This includes the tiny Arapaho plants we got via mail order.  I am glad to see them doing so well.  It is time to plant the okra.   I will try to get to it tomorrow.  Any help will be appreciated.  I, however, think everyone is indisposed.  Kathy and Davis are up North, Peggy is ill and Chris has knee problems.  Looks like I will be planting alone.  No news on any new bees.  I will freeze the comb tomorrow to save it for the new hive.  Davis emailed a beekeeper he knows about our problem and John Ward has a local beekeeper connection so between the two, we may get some bees.  You guys keep me informed.  I’d love to get them from a local source.  Corn is finally a foot high so we need to plant the rest soon.  I will wait for Kathy to return to do it.  Peas are finishing and we can plant the speckled pole bean along the fence to replace them.  We will soon have empty potato beds that we need to plant something in.  I vote for butternut squash.  It is time to pinch the growing tips out of the melon vines and move the mulch around them.  Again, I will wait for Kathy and Davis to return.  Lots more to do especially weeding.

Davis building the blackberry supports in early May

 

MALABAR SPINACH  (Basella alba)

Malabar spinach

What a pleasant surprise it was to discover this great new vegetable.  I purchased the seed package from the description in an online catalog.   I was looking for spinach but I did not want the spring leaf type because it will bolt quickly here on the Sea Islands.  I had several bags of spinach seed left over from last year.  Spring spinach tends not to sprout early in the cold earth so the time is very limited to produce a crop.  We have a spring mix of leafy greens which do well and we can grow a reasonable swiss chard crop so spring spinach is not a priority.  What we needed was a spinach crop that comes in during the hot weather and throughout the summer when most leaf crops are finished.  The description called it Red-stemed Spinach.  Not much else was stated in the catalog.  Here is what we have learned thus far:  it is a short lived twining perennial that can grow to 12 feet if supported.  There are two varieties.  One, M. alba, with white stems and two, M. rubra, with red stems.  The leaves are cooked or eaten raw in a salad as regular spinach but since the plant grows away from the ground, it is seldom “sandy”.  This is a nitrogen loving plant and will reward a feeding cycle with rapid growth.  Small flowers will form but the resulting purple berries are not eaten.  The leaves taste just like spinach although when eaten raw will be a little slippery.  I like okra so this does not bother me but some may like their Malabar cooked.  Once the plant has reached a couple feet tall, pinch the tips out to encourage lateral growth which thickens the plants.  Give them plenty of room by spacing them 16 to 18 inches apart.  Here is something I find very favorable.  When the tips are removed (6 to 8 inches long), they can be rooted for additional plants and placed in the garden.  There are few to no pest for this plant so expect a heavy yield.  Mulch the plants to control weeds and water and plan to plant a new crop each year so save some seeds so don’t pinch out all the flowers.

 

Gordon

Comments (2)

WOW! A 3 meter wingspan. Hope we don’t get any of those at our house.

IT WOULD HAVE TAKEN LITTLE EFFORT TO PLACE THE MM/DM SYMBOL ON THE PHOTO BUT METRIC DOESN’T DO IT. WHEN YOU SEE THE DAMAGE THIS LITTLE MOTH CAN CAUSE TO YOUR SQUASH PLANTS, YOU COULD BELIEVE IT HAS A 9 FOOT WINGSPAN. I STILL HAVE NOT HAD TIME TO COVER THE VINES WITH DIRT TO HELP THEM ROOT AS A MEANS TO COMBAT THE BORE. I WILL TRY TO DO IT TOMORROW.

GORDON

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