Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Zucchini surgery follow-up

After two and a half weeks, I think I can give at least a tentative report on the outcome of my zucchini surgery. For the first few days, it looked like both plants were likely to survive and might even continue to produce. Encouraged by their outwardly healthy appearance, I decided that they might do better if I trimmed away some of the dead and damaged foliage to make more room for the healthy leaves. As I worked, I discovered more of the orange "fress"—that icky sawdust-like material—at the bases of the leaves. So I went digging in a little further with my knife and discovered yet more of the borer grubs working their way up the stems. In my efforts to extricate and kill them, I ended up breaking the main stem of the smaller plant and breaking off a large section of the larger one.

The smaller plant was clearly a lost cause, so I just picked all the remaining squash and tossed the leaves into the compost bin. The larger one looked as though it might be salvageable, so I killed the grubs and trimmed away all the damaged parts, leaving behind a much smaller but reasonably healthy-looking plant (shown at right). However, knowing that it had already suffered additional borer damage, and also that there might still be more borers in there that I hadn't been able to locate, I wasn't too optimistic about its chances.

That was nearly two weeks ago, and as you can see from this second picture, the plant is still hanging in there and has even produced a couple more fruits. (Pay no attention to all the lush verdure outside the actual bed—our weeds have benefited from an influx of rain and a couple of busy weekends that prevented us from tending to yard work. I've really got to make up my mind what kind of surface to put down on those garden paths.) So I'm now cautiously optimistic that I may have managed to root out the borers and that this plant, though somewhat diminished in size, may actually remain productive well into August—long enough, at least, to see us through until our tomato crop starts coming in. And meanwhile, I figure I can use the nine square feet left behind by the removal of the other zucchini plant to put in some cabbages for fall.
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