This year is definitely going to go down in my records as the summer of squash, which is to say that I’ve had a spectacularly successful gardening season – squashwise. This may seem a little bit like saying that I’ve had fantastic luck growing dandelions … I mean, squash, right? There’s a reason people get sick of zucchini. But here we are in August – AUGUST! – and I am still harvesting squash. For the first time in three years, my squash plants were not destroyed by squash vine borers by the first week of July.
What did I do different this year? What expertise did I bring to bear?
You mean on purpose? You’re kidding, right? This was more or less dumb luck. Maybe less.
I mean, I did a couple of things – both half-heartedly and by accident. I specifically did not plant Black Beauty Zuchinni, which I read after my second year’s loss is particularly susceptible to vine borers. I went with the bush baby instead. I also planted scallop squash (that produced a few fruit and then died) and a bunch of different winter squash (that all started out strong and then fizzled out and died). But I think the important thing is not that I had so many squash plants but that they were in three distinct and separate parts of the garden. When I did have problems, the offending insects didn’t get everybody.
For example, these critters. The Squash Bug.
Let me tell you, these are not so easy to smush, so my usual pick and smush method of organic pest control didn’t work. Also, do you know that if you slap the leaves of curcurbits between your palms (in a futile attempt to kill squash bugs) that they sting the crap out of your palms with all these nearly invisible spear-like things that look deceivingly like fuzz? Trust me. Not fuzz.
Anyway … I had an empty five gallon bucket out in the garden that had once contained worm castings, and I put some water in this bucket, and then I started pulling off the infected leaves, shoving them down into the water, and then I put the top on the whole thing. I mean, the plants are going to lose these leaves anyway, right?
It worked, more or less. I totally lost the winter squash, and the one scalloped squash plant, but the two bush baby zucchini plants, one on each side of the garden, are still producing, and the tromboncinos took it all in stride and spread, and spread, and took over marigolds, cucumbers, leeks, and an entire section of path (which had become weeds anyway), and they continue to pump out fruit that looks like this, and is quite delicious.
I have a freezer full of zucchini and tromboncino squash. I mean, I really think it’ll get me through to next summer’s squash producing time. So I have that going for me.
And you know what? I’m getting a little sick of squash – the harvesting, the freezing, the cooking and the eating. I’m actually starting to feel that when those squash plants finally die back, that it’ll be okay with me. I’m actually kind of looking forward to it.
But this is a success story, so let that pass.