angelaangela
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Squash Vine Borer Problem Last Year!

Hey everyone!

I am just about ready to plant my garden up here in NY, which is very exciting! However, there is one thought that is dwindling in my back of my mind. Last year (and years before) I had a very serious squash vine borer problem which cleaned out all of my plants. I am wondering if there are any preventative measures I can take this year to hopefully have a different outcome.

I am thinking about:
1. changing the entire location of the squash plants because I know those bugs lay eggs in the dirt from previous seasons
2.in this different area put up row covers to prevent those nasty bugs from landing on the plants
3. maybe putting the squash plants into raised beds with brand new dirt and completely covering it with row covers?

Any thoughts/ideas/opinions/words of advice are welcome!

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applestar
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Re: Squash Vine Borer Problem Last Year!

I just planted my winter squash today. I'm not even planting summer squash -- which are all C. pepos. If I were, I would plant Tromboncino which is a C. moschata that can be eaten when young as summer squash, but my old seeds failed to germinate (so glad I was pre-germinating them in a sprouter or I would be waiting for them). Cocuzelle is another resistant variety that has been suggested to me, but I didn't get any seeds for them this year.

-- essentially, I'm counting on C. moschata and mixta varieties to be SVB free, but am using insect barrier row cover over the transplanted seedlings of C. pepo and maxima varieties to start with, and considering expanding coverage as they grow, which will necessitate hand pollination.

I posted about how I planted my two groups of winter squash here :arrow: https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/vi ... 88#p331188
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gumbo2176
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Re: Squash Vine Borer Problem Last Year!

I've had lots of problems with SVB's in the past and this year I am using a row cover to see if that works better for me. So far, so good as my plants look great and are making tons of flowers right now with some fruit growing nicely, but not quite ready to pick yet.

I'll see how long the plants last this time around since they are now in my raised bed section with PVC piping for framework and covered with lightweight row cover cloth. But I'm optimistic that I may be on the right track this year.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Squash Vine Borer Problem Last Year!

Good luck. I've given up on growing zucchini because of the SVB. My plants look healthy a little bit past where you are right now. I pick the first one or two zucchinis and then.... the plant dies, a wilted mess.

You said your plants are under row cover but are setting fruit. Are you hand pollinating them? The issue with row cover is that it has to be tight enough to exclude the SVB moths, meaning it also excludes pollinators. So then you have to either open it up for pollinators or hand pollinate. If you hand pollinate you should be fine, it is just kind of a pain to do and have to keep closing everything up again. If not, if your row cover is open and loose enough that pollinators can get in, then the SVB's WILL find your plants.
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gumbo2176
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Re: Squash Vine Borer Problem Last Year!

Yes, I am hand pollinating them. I should have mentioned that and thanks for the heads-up on my omission so as to clear it up. It's a little more work to do that, but I love my summer squash, especially grilled, and my growing area for them is in my 4 ft. x 12 ft. raised bed, so I really don't have tons of plants to fool with.

JayPoc
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Re: Squash Vine Borer Problem Last Year!

Yeah, I'm planting in a different area this year, although all my stuff is so close together I'm not sure how much that will help. Maybe the harsh winter will have killed off some of these little monsters? I'm not covering mine. We'll see what happens...

gumbo2176
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Re: Squash Vine Borer Problem Last Year!

Well JP, I wish you luck. I planted my squash over the years in various parts of the garden to no avail. The moths fly around and find them, and like Rainbowgardener's experience, mine would produce a few squash early on, then die within a couple weeks after picking the first of what I hoped would be many squash.

Those borers are notoriously persistent.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Squash Vine Borer Problem Last Year!

Different area of your garden isn't likely to make a difference. I don't know very many gardeners in the whole city of Cincinnati who can grow zucchini...

One thing to try, that should at least slow them down is burying the stems of the zucchini. The SVB moth has to get to the stem, usually near the base of the stem, to lay her eggs in it, which hatch out in to those vicious little borer larvae. So if you keep piling dirt on top of the stem and bury more of it as it grows more stem, it should slow them down. I have to say I tried it and all it did was slow it down. Eventually they found a way, any way. I don't remember now if I didn't keep up with the burying as it grew or what happened, but my zuke plants still died.
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JayPoc
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Re: Squash Vine Borer Problem Last Year!

rainbowgardener wrote:Different area of your garden isn't likely to make a difference. I don't know very many gardeners in the whole city of Cincinnati who can grow zucchini...

One thing to try, that should at least slow them down is burying the stems of the zucchini. The SVB moth has to get to the stem, usually near the base of the stem, to lay her eggs in it, which hatch out in to those vicious little borer larvae. So if you keep piling dirt on top of the stem and bury more of it as it grows more stem, it should slow them down. I have to say I tried it and all it did was slow it down. Eventually they found a way, any way. I don't remember now if I didn't keep up with the burying as it grew or what happened, but my zuke plants still died.
Two things...first, an actual solution I've read about. Apparently, there is a kind of zucchini the borers REALLY like. I forget the variety name but I'm sure you can google it. I think maybe it was humbolt or something like that? Anyway, apparently if you plant a bunch of that, the borers lay all their eggs there and leave the rest of your squash alone (in theory).

Now, if they get in through the stems, seems like there ought to be some way to treat the stems to keep them out. Something that could be applied with a brush and stay in place that would ward them off....somebody get to work on that right away!

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Squash Vine Borer Problem Last Year!

Now, if they get in through the stems, seems like there ought to be some way to treat the stems to keep them out. Something that could be applied with a brush and stay in place that would ward them off....

kaolin clay. I think it is sprayed on and becomes a barrier layer. I haven't actually tried it.
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Black River
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Re: Squash Vine Borer Problem Last Year!

SVB's have been a problem with our squash from the very start....last year I planted marigolds and borage amongst the squash as I heard it would keep bugs away. Well, it kept squash beetles away but not the borers. I have found no other solution but to slice open the stalk and pull the borer out. I did this last year and my squash all lived. I had more squash than I knew what to do with.

When you see stuff that looks like sawdust on the stalk, you have a borer. You can take a knife and slice open the stalk, pulling the worm out, without harming the plant if you get them out early. I will not let the borers defeat me that easily, we love squash and zucchini too much!

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sheeshshe
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Re: Squash Vine Borer Problem Last Year!

I have kaolin clay, and I have been wanting to try it, but keep forgetting!


the wrapping the stems trick would never work for me, the borers over here lay the eggs mostly on the 'branches' by the leaves! and they go in through the 'branches' and work their way down to the stem of the plant!.
Sheila, gardening on the zone 4b/5a line.

angelaangela
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Re: Squash Vine Borer Problem Last Year!

Thank you all for your comments! I guess all we can do is hope for the best! I decided to try and use the row covers on some of my zucchini plants this year. I haven't researched enough, but I know that if you use row covers you have to hand pollinate the plants. Can anyone better explain this process to me? Thank you in advance!

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