Wednesday, May 20, 2009

What I should've known: Growing Squash

So I thought I was completely prepared and well-read when I carefully selected my squash and zucchini plants. If you read my previous post, then you saw how pretty my little plant are... or were. The sad thing is that I go out to my garden at least a couple of times a day. In the past few weeks, I noticed that a leaf here and there would start to wilt. I would, of course, take my scissors and cut of the leaf to make sure my plants stayed looking pretty. Boy was I wrong. My plants were telling me exactly what I needed to know. They were suffering from... drumroll... Squash Vine Borers.

What I found: I did some research online to find out what was causing sawdust-like stuff to come out of tiny little holes at the base of the main squash stem and the underside of some of the leaf stems. As it turns out, there was a nice little moth that laid some eggs on the stem. If I would've known to look for those eggs I could've removed/wiped the eggs and prevented them from hatching. Once the eggs hatch, little white worms make a hole and go into the stem.

What I did: Anyhow, I took a sharp knife where I found the holes, and cut into that part of the stem. Then I gently opened the stem and starting looking for the ugly white worm. Once I removed my findings, I gently cleaned out the inside of the stem with some water, dried it and used some twine to to wrap the base of the stem up to where I performed the surgery. I found that almost every squash and pumpkin plant, with the exception of two, had this malady. Even the Butternut Squash plant that was supposed to be resistant to this type of pest was affected.

Prevention: I haven't tried a soap wash yet, but I plan on frequently, at least once a week, wiping the base of the squash stems to remove any eggs before they hatch.

I expected the plants to be completely dead after the mini surgery, but they are still alive and trying to make it. Unfortunately there were numerous baby squash and zucchini casualties, thanks to our invaders. I'm still trying to figure out if I will start over with new transplants, or if I will wait and see. In the meantime, I will let you know if my plants make a recovery.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Squash & Zucchini Babies

I started Saffron, Butternut, and Sweet Gourmet Squash from seed on 4/9. Most of the seeds germinated within five days! They were some of the first baby plants I added to the raised beds that were installed on the 20th of April. If I harvest some veggies this week-end, that means I went from seedling to vegetable in 5.5 weeks.

After realizing I was going to have more room in one of my raised beds, I bought a Patty Green Tint Squash and Green Zucchini transplant later in the month. Last week I noticed my first little zucchini and a couple of Saffron Squash. This Green Zucchini is about a week old and about 1.5 inches long:

These are pictures of my first Saffron Squash babies.

I found about 4 Butternut Squash this morning, but they are about 1/4 of an inch. It looks like the saffron and zucchini babies’ flowers will open tomorrow. I read that once they flower, they can grow in 3-5 days! I may have my first grilling vegetables by this week-end. I can’t wait!!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Raised Bed Gardens

Had two raised bed gardens installed on 4/20 thanks to Austin Urban Gardens. They fully installed and filled my 2 (4x8x12in) with a Hill Country organic soil blend. I had already been reading up on Square Foot Gardening, and I immediately stocked up on transplant tomatoes and vegetables. I also planted some Mr. Stripey and Branywine tomatoes that started from seed in early March. Thanks to lots of advice and research I am using natural fertilizer worm castings and Seaweed fertilizer. These are my beautiful raised beds as they were three weeks ago:

Tomatoes: I am growing the following tomatoes: Patio, BeefMaster, Brandywine, Mr. Stripey, Sweet 100, Yellow Plum, Jubilee, Amelia, Old German, Caspian Pink, Boxcar Willy, Yellow Lemon Boy, Bush Early Girl, Cherokee Purple, Celebrity, Rutgers and Orange Oxheart.

Strawberries & Citrus: I ordered some bare root Festival strawberries from Burpee in early March. I planted those the week-end of Easter, and have 6 little stawberries on those baby plants! We've had a Meyer Lemon tree in a container for about 2 years. It didn't seem to be doing well and had never kept any of its fruit. Thus, we had Austin Urban Garden plant our Meyer Lemon tree in the ground. The tree was on the tail end of flowering and had some tiny little lemons. Thankfully, the four little lemons that were on the tree survived the transplant and are about the size of grapes now. The good news is that the tree is liking the new living arrangements so much that it is getting covered in a second set of flower buds!! The rest of the Fruits and Vegetables: Watermelon, Mexican Miniature Watermelon, Saffron Squash, Sweet Gourmet Squash, Green Zucchini, Clemson Spineless Okra, Muncher and Lemon Cucumbers, Radish, Golden Beet, Scallions, Corn, Onions, Sweet Mesclan Salad Mix, Sugar Pumpkins, Ichiban Eggplant, all colors of bell peppers, and Jalapeno Peppers.

I plan on keeping a detailed log on what grows well for me and tweaking the list next Spring.