Sunday, June 16, 2013

Collared greens

No, that's not a typo: it's a description of my zucchini plants out in the garden, which are currently wearing aluminum-foil collars around their biggest stems. This is an attempt to "foil" the attacks of the dreaded squash vine borer, which, as you may recall, infested both our zucchini plants last year. While I was able to salvage one of the two plants, at least for a while, by cutting into the stem and digging out the grubs with a knife, the other suffered an untimely death. So this year I decided on a preemptive strike, in an effort to keep the little varmints from attacking our plants in the first place.

The foil collar technique is one my dad uses on his plants, but some other gardeners on Gardenweb say their results with it have been disappointing. Thus, I'm using it as part of a two-pronged strategy that also includes yellow cup traps. I can't remember where I first read about this method, but this blog explains how it works: set out yellow cups (or bowls, or any other container) filled with water around the plants. The adult moths are attracted to the color (which is the same as the color of the squash blossoms) and will, if all goes well, fall into the cups and drown. We had a bunch of little sample cups left over from our trips to the H Mart, where they give out tasty free samples on weekends; we usually take the cups home to recycle, but I stashed some of them with our gardening supplies, thinking they might come in handy. So we gave them a quick coat of spray primer and then one of yellow spray paint, and we've set several of them out around the plants, where we hope they will capture any terrorist moths bent on squash destruction. I'd like to add regular spraying with insecticidal soap as part of our anti-borer regimen, but we're all out of it at the moment, so until I can get some more, I'll have to hope the combination of cups and collars can keep these pests at bay.

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