oh the vine borers

August 20, 2011

Last year I planted a huge patch of pumpkins and not much else. So when I went out to the field and found that the majority of the pumpkins and squash had been invaded by vine borers I was devastated…

This year, I diversified. I planted lots of different things, and have had pretty good luck with many of them. The pumpkins though…vine borers again! My plan of defense this year was by default. It was so wet for so long that I was unable to work the ground in the pumpkin patch until the beginning of July. By the time that the pumpkin and squash seeds were in the ground, it was after the middle of July.

I had understood that the vine borers would no longer be laying eggs by this time. But no…most of this year’s crop was invaded. I went out yesterday morning with my handy pocket knife and carefully slit the stems to kill the borers and try to save the plants. Some might live, but I wont hold my breath.

I planted a patch of pumpkins (Ronde de Nice from Seed Savers) in one of our raised beds, and they were fine. These I planted in June, and I don’t know if the Ronde de NiceĀ  is resistant to VBs, or if that patch didn’t have any of the vermin.

(Note: the above photo is of the Ronde de Nice flower. There are quite a few cucumber beetles and one bee in the flower. I don’t know if the beetles are counter productive to the pollination process, but the bee is definitely welcome!)

This particular pumpkin can be harvested as summer and winter squash. I have been eating them tiny and they are delicious. The squash below is a few inches across and perfect when stewed with onions and tomatoes.

We missed a few (including the one below) and they are going on to be pumpkins! They remain green, but should harden and last for a while!

I have been talking to many people about vine borers, and have gotten a good amount of advice.

Remedies include wrapping the young stems with tinfoil, washing stems with insecticidal soap, and covering the entire plot with row cover. I am actually quite excited to try some (or all) of these measures next year, as well as continuing to try the staggered planting. I will report for sure!!

P.S. any further advice/experience with vine borers is greatly appreciated. Please leave comments. Thanks!