Sunday, May 23, 2010

Squash Vine Borer Eggs

Yellow crookneck squash. Along with tomatoes and cucumbers, it is one of the foods that just says summer. If all goes well, then you are putting baskets full of squash in the break room at work just to get rid of the stuff. But if your vines are attacked by the hated squash vine borer, then you are kicking yourself wondering why it won't grow for you.

My battle with squash vine borers started last year. They ruined my squash, zucchini, and cucumbers. This year, I've done lots of research, and I am fighting back. I found a great post from a gardener in Texas who keeps a wonderful gardening blog called Rock Rose. She's been documenting her fight with the vine borers, and because her plants are about a month ahead of mine, I am learning what to do ahead of time. She's even found a squash vine borer moth in the act of laying eggs!

So, how do these awful bugs kill squash? A full grown larva or pupa will overwinter in the soil one to two inches below the soil surface. The larva pupates in the spring, and the orange and black moth emerges from the soil and lays eggs on the stems of squash plants. One to two weeks later, the larva hatches and quickly bores into the stems of the squash plant. They usually leave a trail of orange sawdust-like frass at the entry point. Inside the hollow stems of the squash plant, the larva feeds for 14 to 30 days before exiting the stem to pupate in the soil. In Mississippi, there can be up to two vine borer generations per year. Ew!

My fight this year starts with removing the eggs. I found and smooshed five eggs earlier this week and two more today. To show you how small there are, I left a piece of pine straw in the second photo. I've read that these eggs are only 1/32 of an inch!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Pink and Purple

I love how Endless Summer hydrangeas tell you about the pH your soil by displaying either pink or blue blooms. Alkaline soil produces pink flowers. Acid soil produces blue flowers. I have some purple, some pink, but most of my blooms are pink with some purple accents. Yesterday evening, they were all ready for their close-ups.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

More Veggies and Hydrangea Time!

I have six hydrangea shrubs and all of them are blooming! Four of them are the Endless Summer variety, one is a white "mophead" type hydrangea (that doesn't seem to be an "Annabelle variety), and the other is a lacecap. I cut some of the Endless Summer blooms today to bring inside.

Over the weekend I harvested the rest of the carrots in order to make room for peppers.

Fennel, Swiss chard, leeks, and garlic are all coming along nicely.

New additions over the weekend:
Red bell pepper
Yellow bell pepper
Yummy bell pepper (orange mini-bell)
Roma tomatoes (4 plants - what was I thinking?!)

Sunday afternoon we found this little guy hanging out on the garden hose. He made lots of noise once the sun went down.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Thursday Night Kayaking Club

We went out on the Yazoo River again last night, and it was great. I am calling it our Thursday Night Kayaking Club because we are trying to get a group together to go out on Thursday evening from the dowtown Vicksburg put in. Attendance at our first paddle was excellent. We had seven people show up to paddle. Last night, there were only three of us. We explored the western banks of the Yazoo River near Centennial Lake. Then, headed up near the port of Vicksburg.

I took some photos of our last adventure, but I didn't remember to take any last night. Here are the photos from our April paddle.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Early May Vegetables

I have harvested a few vegetables so far this May. Four carrots (one was white??), a bowlful of lettuce, a sad little broccoli stem, and some sugar snap peas.

The broccoli never did much. I purchased broccoli transplants from The Tasteful Garden this year. They arrived on March 3rd (their earliest possible ship date), and I got them in the ground on March 9th. Very soon after that, we had highs in the 80s, so it was just too hot for them. According to the Mississippi Department of Agriculture's planting guide, I really should have the plants in the ground by February 12 and no later than March 1. I might try broccoli again in the fall and see how it does.

Today the lettuce is on its last leg because the temperatures are reaching the lower 90s this week. I can probably get one more good harvest out of it, but I need to do that today or tomorrow.

I've had my best carrot harvest yet. The white carrot was a bit of a mystery. Maybe it was a parsnip? Not sure how it got in the Scarlet Nantes carrot seed envelope.

And lastly, the sugar snaps are delicious! The photo above is our second harvest of about 10 or 12 pods. I think we'll get at least two or three more harvests.

A few more carrots and some of the Swiss chard leaves should be ready to harvest early next week. I'm really looking forward to it!