Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Battle of the Squash Vine Borers--a mini-Trailer Park Homestead update

The good news:  it appears the reports of the death of the pumpkin plant in one of the Three Sister's bed was greatly exaggerated. 

The bad news:  it looks like the vertical growing pumpkin plant, the one that has pumpkins forming six feed in the air, seems to be possessed by those creatures from the fiery pits of hell: the squash vine borer.  NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

When I posted about the demonic beasties destroying one of the Sisters, I linked to a Wikipedia article about them.  I noticed when I was initially looking at the article that some people were able to save their squash plants by burying lengths of the vine in different areas to encourage the plants to develop roots in other areas so the evil arthropods couldn't completely kill them.  I decided it was worth a shot on my one Sister pumpkin that just seemed mostly dead.  Sure enough it worked!  The plant seemed to not even notice its infestation anymore!

Then, the other day, I noticed my favorite pumpkin had some tell-tale uckies around the stem base, indicating a likely problem.  I fought the urge to call 911, since, even though it was a valid emergency in my gardener's mind, I didn't think they would agree.  I was on my own.  I wanted to try the same idea as what worked before, but how do you bury the vine in different spots on a vertically growing plant? 

1: "Cut a hole in a box"
I decided to try turning a cardboard box into a root tunnel that would let the plant form roots just a bit beyond where the issue was, but it would then connect back to the soil in the raised bed, since a large enough box to support an entire root system wouldn't hold together for long...or be able to be supported for the twine that holds up the plant.

I cut a hole in a box and cut the box along the side so I wrap it around the stem, then duct taped it into place (is there anything duct tape can't do?).  I filled it with soil and whispered a few encouraging words to the plant.  Hopefully that will be enough.  I guess only time will tell


  1. Your cardboard idea is pretty genius, I must say! I wrap the bottom of the stem in aluminum foil, burying the foil just a bit, and it has helped.
    All my squash vines died last year because of the borers, it was the only year I didnt wrap the stems.

  2. If your vines are vertical, can you not make small -pots- out of duct tape and TP rolls? or PT rolls? they would be much easier to keep up high. Just slit the side, wrap around the vine, secure with duct tape -cover bottom around vine, fill with soil, cover top with duct tape around vine, let go. OR not cover the top with duct tape so water can get in. maybe just a small piece of screen to keep dirt in.... I once saved a tree (sapling) with duct tape and a pair of chopsticks...

  3. I thought about that, but I am fairly positive that wouldn't give the roots nearly enough room. When container gardening, pumpkins need a 5 gallon size pot, which is a far cry from a tp tube, and I think the roots spread out too much to even use a system of tubes to get roots down to larger areas of soil at the bottom.