Dealing with Squash Vine Borers

Hey folks,

Have had a bunch of questions about dealing with squash vine borers.  Here are my 5 ways to deal with them:

  1. Resistant varieties
Debby with two Upper Ground Sweet Potato Squashes she grew
Debby with two Upper Ground Sweet Potato Squashes she grew

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.

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  1. Hand removal

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.)
  1. Crop Rotation

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.

  1. Nematodes

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.

  1. Pheromone Lures & Traps

Another purchased option, again from Arbico Organics, are traps with pheromone lures specifically for squash vine borers.

A Final note is that Blue Hubbard squash is known to be a squash vine borer trap crop.  Which admittedly bums us out because we love Blue Hubbard.

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2017 Seed Catalog Reviews – Southern Exposure Seed Exchange

southern exposure seed exchange 2017 catalogFor 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 old virginia tomatoEnergy 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 tenn red valencia peanuts your hand at growing natural colored cotton or peanuts, Southern Exposure is your seed company.

Interestinwinthers white pole beang 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 famoon and stars yellow fleshed watermelonmily favorite, yellow crookneck. We crimson sweet watermelon 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.

Southern Exposure 2014 Seed Catalog

Last year we started talking about seed companies and their catalogs.  This year we continue, starting with Southern Exposure Seed Exchange (SESE).

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange 2014 Cover
Southern Exposure Seed Exchange 2014 Cover

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.

Here are 9  + varieties to try:

Rosella Purple Tomatos
Rosella Purple tomato gives you full sized slicer taste on a determinate plant that can be grown in containers – yummy
White Bush Scallop Summer Squash Harvest
We love Early White Bush Scallop summer squash. It is very productive all summer and seems to resist squash beetle attack longer than some other varieties.
Sweet Valentine Lettuce
A must have for the lettuce bed is Sweet Valentine. We used to get this years ago from another company and loved it, so we are happy SESE has it. Sweet Valentine is a great all season variety that does well in summer’s heat when shaded, and also in a hoop house from fall into the winter.
Neptune Red Tomato
Neptune & Old Virginia red tomatoes are noted to produce well in hot humid summers. Neptune is pictured.
Dakota Black Popcorn
SESE has an excellent section of popcorn. There is nothing like inviting friends over for a movie and serving home grown popcorn. We love Dakota Black (which pops white and is more like food than just a snack), but try more than one variety and compare.
Sierra Crisphead Lettuce
We have enjoyed two of their crisphead lettuces that are very different are from each other in look, but, both held up great in the fall garden, even with light frost. Try both Loma & Sierra. This is Sierra.
Loma Chrisphead Lettuce
Loma Chrisphead Lettuce
Sweet potatoes of various colors
Like sweet potatoes ? They have a good selection of orange, white and purple fleshed varieties. They carry Bunch Porto Rico for those with smaller gardens because of its shorter more compact vines.
Stone Mountain Watermelon
Southern selections would have to include watermelon, and they have white, yellow, orange and red fleshed varieties. If you have the space, try Stone Mountain for old fashioned 30 pound melons.
Ashe County Pimento Sweet Pepper
Ashe County Pimento sweet peppers are thick, juicy and delicious and can be grown in containers.