Last year I planted three varieties of squash pretty early. They did what I had hoped and bore in good numbers. But by the time there were large ripening fruits, the squash bugs came and invaded it all. The almost-mature acorn, butternut, and buttercup beauties were hanging from dying vines not yet fully ripe!
I was distressed because I felt they wouldn’t ‘harden off’ on the rapidly browning vines nor be good keepers for winter use. I was right!
We determined it would still be fine to bake these not-quite-mature fruit, so we had lots delicious butternut and buttercup squash with butter and cinnamon right through fall ~ none were left for winter. It did lower our food bill, though.
Adult and nymph squash bugs cause damage by sucking nutrients and disturbing the flow of water, which can cause wilting and death of the vine. Butternut and Royal Acorn are resistant varieties. One trick is to place boards or shingles on the ground next to the plants. Each evening the bugs will gather underneath and can be easily destroyed in the morning (by dunking the shingle in a water-filled pail) until under control.
A new plan: this year I am acting on advice from a gardening friend who has always planted towards the end of June through early July. There appear to be 2 benefits in this: The squash bugs don’t seem to bother it much when planted later, and it has been reported that the squash are actually sweeter after a frost.
Yesterday, I planted the same three varieties of squash, pole beans (rust-resistant, string-less Kentucky Wonder), and last week, I planted cucumbers (Straight Eight). The zucchini and yellow summer squash are thriving.
The cattle panel trellis the men in my life built is sturdy, year-round support. It is the favorite thing about my garden other than the 4? x8? boxes themselves.
When not full of squash or pole beans, the birds seem to have a reunion there almost every day.
Note: you can also grow cantaloupe and honeydew on a trellis. The Creator has designed it so that the stems get thick enough to hold them without support. They are much cleaner, easier to pick, and get less mildew and insect damage.
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