Have had a bunch of questions about dealing with squash vine borers. Here are my 5 ways to deal with them:
You can look for squash vine borer resistant varieties. The only zucchini I grow anymore is Raven, which is a hybrid. It does eventually succumb to the bug pressure, but I at least get a few weeks of zucchini from it before that happens and I take it out. I cannot recommend Black Beauty as it is a real bug magnet.
Southern Exposure Seed Exchange has come varieties you might want to try that are more resistant: for summer squash: Lemon Squash. For winter squash: Green-Striped Cushaw may do well for you. Last year, we did very well with the Upper Ground Sweet Potato Squash (see pic of two Debby grew) which looks like a big tan pumpkin and was a big hit.. that was what was in the photo of me near the end of the presentation. Waltham Butternut is also good at borer resistance and has grown well for me.
Checking daily, or every other day goes along way! Look at the base of the main stem, about 4” from the ground up.
If you see a bulge in the stem, there is likely a squash vine borer worm in that bulge.
To remove the worm:
make a vertical slit, along the stem:
carefully open the stem to find the worm
remove the worm and give it a new incarnation
carefully close the wound and gently wrap it with tape (the tape is optional, but helps the wound heal and keeps out dirt, etc.)
Rotating crops works best if you have a large garden, say at least a couple hundred square feet, or have beds that are on opposite sides of your property. You want to rotate all members of the cucurbit family as one rotation. This includes not only winter and summer squash (and zucchini), but also cucumbers and melons (including watermelons).
If you do not have enough space for this, or if you have a major infestation, don’t grow this family of crops for a year or two. I have done this a couple times with good results and got to experiment with new crops in the meantime.
One organic way to deal with these critters is by adding certain nematodes to your soil. My go-to company for these is Arbico Organics.
For you local Virginians who want to support Virginia businesses, Southern Exposure is for you.
They are a great source of varieties that grow well in the mid-Atlantic and Southern states, including some local heirloom varieties. Popular examples include Old Virginia tomato, an heirloom of the famous VA Ginter family, Anne Arundel melon, grown in Maryland since 1731, Mountain Princess tomato from the Monongahela National Forest area of West Virginia, and Seminole pumpkin, cultivated in Florida by Native American Indians since the 1500s and now grown by Living Energy Farm in Virginia.
Even if you are in another area of the country, they are a wonderful resource. They have a larger than usual selection of collards, okra, southern (or cow, or blackeye) peas, and tomatillos. If you want to try your hand at growing natural colored cotton or peanuts, Southern Exposure is your seed company.
Interesting new selections for 2017 include Withner White Cornfield bean, an Indiana heirloom for growing up corn stalks, and Geranium Kiss, a red dwarf determinate tomato for containers.
Early White Bush Scallop patty pan squash has been a family favorite of ours since the 1960s and these folks have it along with our other family favorite, yellow crookneck. We also like Sweet Valentine romaine lettuce which we have not found elsewhere in recent years.
I like their selection of watermelons which include red, yellow and orange fleshed varieties.
Southern Exposure has a good selection of seed saving equipment. We always enjoy their selections for hot humid climates like ours, hope you do too.
Last year we started talking about seed companies and their catalogs. This year we continue, starting with Southern Exposure Seed Exchange (SESE).
Beyond having a beautiful and whimsical cover, SESE specialized in varieties that grow well in mid-east and southern United States, AKA, hot humid summers. Historically, they have ties with Seed Saver’s Exchange, so they have a similar ethic of persevering heirloom varieties and encouraging people to save their own seed.
They have an outstanding variety and draw from small regional farms, some of whom are featured in their catalog. They have taken the Safe Seed Pledge, and are one of the 73 plaintiffs continuing their lawsuit against Monsanto, in OSGATA et al v. Monsanto.
Because they specialize in varieties for the south, you’ll find a larger selection of southern favorites including black-eyed peas (or cowpeas as they call them), okra, collards, peanuts and cotton (in various natural colors), than other catalogs. They have a pictorial designation for varieties well-suited to the southeast to help you find these quickly. They have many organic selections.