Spring is well on its way and the semester is wrapping up. Howdy Farm has had an action packed spring, so action packed that I haven’t been taking note of the plants growing and changing around me! A few weeks ago our Texas Redbud was bursting with dainty magenta flowers, but when I walked past it the other day it looked like a completely different tree! Now deep burgundy spade-shaped leaves have replaced the tiny flowers. If there is one thing I learned from this, it is that I need to pay attention to the beautiful details of nature as being a successful gardener involves being in tune with a plants growth and change.
I snapped back to attention when Corey described a pest known as a squash vine borer. This is a bug that as an adult is a moth, but is highly destructive to summer and winter squash as a larva. The adult usually lays its small, reddish-brown eggs near the base of the plant. When the eggs hatch, the white larvae grow to almost an inch long and burrow a hole up the middle of the vine of the squash plant. This effectively hollows out the stem and kills the plant. Much to our alarm, squash vine borer eggs were spotted on our yellow squash plants! Unfortunately, one of the only ways to eliminate these pests in gardens is the physical removal of the eggs or larvae from each individual plant. Thus, the interns and I began the tedious process of searching each squash plant for the little flat eggs while still pulling up weeds. We learned that if the squash vine borer larvae begin to chew up the inside of a vine, one can take a razor blade and cut a small slit in the vine and pull out the larvae, then the portion with the slit can be buried in soil to allow roots to grow from that area. Hopefully our squash plants were saved from undergoing this process.