Tag Archive for garden pests

How to Get Rid of Squash Bugs

I really really really really hate squash bugs! They are the bane of my existence. We scarcely ever even get a single squash from a single plant in our garden. If there was a way to remove those suckers from the face of the earth, I sure would do it. They are disgusting! Boo!

I have heard 100 tales of how to rid my life and garden of those creepy creatures, and I have tried every single one. Rotate crops, intercrop, hand picking, use Seven, even that doesn’t work! I have not tried it but a friend of mine used it when our first year gardening and I handpicked mine and we ended up with the same results, a million more came. It seems like there is nothing, and I mean nothing that will rid my life of squash bugs.

Squash bugs STINK!

Squash is attacked early in the season in Oklahoma by the squash vine borer. These little monsters are a black and red wasp looking bug that lay their eggs in the stems of the squash and when they hatch they eat the stems from the inside, killing the plant all at once within a few days.


Squash bug damage

squash bug

They are stinky little bugs. When I was a kid we always called them stink bugs. They make a yucky smell when you squish them. I have heard hand picking in the best way to decrease the population. Last year after we picked thousands of them, we went out and saw thousands more. Squash bugs are relentless.

Hand pick squash bugs.

The best way to hand pick them is wrap your hands in duct tape with the sticky side out and just press it onto the adults, nymphs or eggs and they stick right to it. You can do it until your tape is full and then make another “sticky glove” and start again.

squash bug eggs

Another method for hand picking is pick and smash, this is a little much for me. You can also hand pick them and throw them in a bucket of soapy water and they will die immediately.

Many people have said if you rotate your crops, they will go away. I rotate every year, but in the case of the squash bug, I really think you would have to rotate to China to outrun the suckers.

Some people have suggested planting a large variety of squash and the squash bugs will eat one kind and leave the others alone. I have planted 10-20 types of squash yearly and they eat it all, they eat summer squashes first, then winter, then onto the cucumbers, then the melons and finally whatever else is left in the garden. Those things are evil.

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Try everything you can think of. 

This year I decided to do an experiment and test the numbers. We planted 15 kinds of squash all over the garden in different places than we planted squash last year. We planted one kind in the three sisters plan, with corn for the trellis, beans for the nitrogen and they climb up the corn, and the squash grows on the ground to shade the roots of the other plants. The other plants are supposed to deter the pests of the squash plants.

I had placed pumpkins all around the perimeter of our fence on the outside last fall after our trunk or treat at church and let those sprout up on their own. I thought maybe the bugs would go there and stay outside of the garden. Sadly, the borers took those out very quickly.

growing squash

 

We also did an old wives tale where you let the seed sprout, then you cut and x in an aluminum pie pan. Then you feed the seedling carefully through the hole in the pan. The pan is supposed to deter the bugs from getting to the plant.

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In addition, We did a method where you inter-plant your squash with white icicle radishes. So we had five different factors to check.

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No squash ever survives.

I will report to you that no squash survived in our garden. The variety did not seem to help as all of the squash is eaten. The pumpkins, of course went first, then next to go was the pie pan method. I don’t know if the pans and the hot sun burned those up or what but inside the garden, they were the first to go.

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Next to die off was the three sisters squash. The corn and beans did great, and the beans are still going strong, but we got no squash from there. Last but not least, the longest lasting squash survivor were the ones that were planted with the white icicle radishes. We planted the radishes all over our garden where there were squash, melons, or cucumbers after that. Not many of them germinated because it’s so blasted hot right now, but I do think it will help deter the little bugers. So far it has anyway. We are just now losing our cucumbers to them and usually we never get to harvest this long.

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Plant a lot of squash.

We planted new squash plants all over the area as well, hoping maybe to get some type of harvest later in the season. In Oklahoma we have a really long growing season, so you never know. It depends on when old man winter decides to show up. Quite frankly, it’s hot and I miss him a lot! Hopefully it was not too hot for the seeds, but we will try to plant again in a few days if we get a cool spell of under 95 degrees. Maybe they will have a chance then.

Some people suggest using Diatomaceous Earth to cut down the population. It’s a great natural product and does help with the nymphs but not adult squash bugs. Also, it can harm pollinators, so you have to be careful not to get it in the flowers. Another draw back of DE is that you have to reapply when any moisture gets on it. Here, it’s so humid, that means everyday. Click here to see more about DE. 

I won’t lie and say any of these methods are sure fire or give you hope you can totally get rid of them. I’m being honest, some methods help and some don’t. I know that being vigilant and removing as many as you can is your best hope. Also, at the end of the season, clean up your garden well so they won’t have places to hide and winter over.

The best advice is to do these things early and often to have the best season possible. Be vigilant, and don’t give up because gardening is fun and you get to have veggies. 

If you have a great idea of how to get rid of these awful creatures or at least slow them down a bit, I would love to hear it! 

Be sure to pin for later.

How to Get Rid of Squash Bugs

 

What Growing on in the Garden in September

I may have mentioned a time or two that this year has been a super tough year in the garden. We were plagued with rabbit attacks on all our seedlings, raccoons, possums, and other creatures have ravaged our ripening crops taking hundreds of pounds of food, and the squash bugs systematically destroyed everything in their path starting with the squashed, moving to the cucumbers, and ending with devastating all of the melons. We did everything we could to control them without chemicals and they just kept moving forward. I think there is a special place in hell for those nasty creatures…but everything has to eat, so…anyways. It’s been a tough year, but we’ve still managed to grow 30 pounds of food in September and a total of 485 pounds this season. It’s far from our goal of 1000, but still, we’ve been eating some fresh things and had the chance to get a few things stored for winter in the freezer.

As the weather is cooling down, we are seeing the return of our tomato and pepper production.

Growing tomatoes with kids


growing peppers with kids

Some of our fast growing fall crops are coming in now, such as these pretty little radishes, our second round of green beans, and lettuces.

growing radishes with kids

growing green beans with kids

growing arugula with kids

picking radishes with kids

The kids are enjoying picking the radishes.

We also have harvested a few sweet potatoes, but there is much more to look forward to there.

kids digging sweet potatoes

growing kale with kidsOur fall kale is coming on strong (even some seeds that were spilled in the gravel are doing nicely) Last winter, we grew kale all winter, so we saved the seeds from that plant and replanted them to try it again this winter.

growing okra with kidsThe okra is still producing us some tasty pods to enjoy.

growing swiss chard with kids

The Swiss chard is bouncing back from the heat as well.

We hope to continue harvesting some delicious fresh food throughout October and hopefully there will be some things to enjoy this winter in the garden as well. Our herbs are still growing strong.

What’s growing on in your garden today?

 

What to do in the Garden in August

August brings with it a lot of excessive heat in Oklahoma so our main garden chore is keeping whatever we can alive. Once the temperatures pass 90 or 95, things begin to wilt, dry out quickly, and most plants won’t produce until temperatures cool down. The pollen in flowers such as tomatoes gets sticky during excessive temperatures and makes pollination nearly impossible.

Doing garden chores in August proves difficult as well. Not only do the plants wilt, so do I. I am extremely sensitive to the heat, so I have to be super careful and not stay out too long. I have to be strategic about getting out there earlier in the day and when I take the kids out in the mornings to harvest, I have to watch them carefully as well. The only thing that makes it bearable is fall is coming. I want to take good care of my plants until the garden work is pleasant again.

garden pests


This garden season has brought Little Sprouts a TON of animal invasion. We have had rabbits eating off all our seedlings so everything had to be planted at least three times and most things we eventually just had to buy seedlings for which made our garden more expensive to grow. Once we got things growing, we were plagued by squirrels taking the bottom half of our tomatoes, raccoons ravaging ALL the fruit off our fruit trees, and possums and raccoons stealing melons and tomatoes. Some days we would come out to find two entire cantaloupes consumed in one night. It was so disheartening.

garden pests, august

So one of our garden chores for August has been to find a way to reduce the population of what was eating what we wanted. We got some live traps and set them up with tuna fish and fruits and vegetables. We used the rinds, peels, and cores to attract our little friends. So far we have caught 4 possums and a small raccoon. We found a place way out in the country that doesn’t have a house around for miles. It has a nice creek flowing through it so the animals will have access to water and vegetation to feed on. So far that has decreased our losses just as the squash bugs are taking over the entire garden.

We have picked hundreds of squash bugs a day, but those little suckers are relentless. Every day there are hundreds more, just chowing down on all of our curcubits. First they killed all of our zucchini, and yellow squash, as usual, we didn’t even grow ONE summer squash to enjoy. Then they moved over to the pumpkins and killed those, also not leaving us even one. Next they destroyed the butternut vines which were producing quite well this year. We harvested several before they killed the vines. This week they killed all 6 cucumber vines and have moved over to the cantaloupe and watermelon vines. I fear those will be gone within the week. I think hell is full of squash bugs. I really do. What’s so annoying is that the food we did grow was taking by animals and then the bugs. Boo!

August is the time to plan your fall garden. If you want to grow your own seedlings, now is the time to plant seeds in pots and set them in a partially shaded area to germinate. If you plan to buy seedlings, it’s time to make a list and plan where you might find some.

We have had very little rain in August and as much as we try to water, the ground never gets a good soaking like it does from rain. We keep watering as much as we can and praying for rain to come and relieve our dusty ground. Just a few weeks ago, we were having floods, and now drought. It seems so crazy.

The other thing to do in August is weeding. The weeds have been more manageable, I guess because of the dryness. We have been picking Johnson grass, Bermuda grass, and crab grass out of every nook and cranny. We have a few other weeds, but it’s mostly grass this year.

We have many empty beds right now at Little Sprouts. When your beds lay empty, it’s good to add more mulch to keep in moisture, protect beneficials in the soil, and keep weeds out. We have been working on getting some of our beds covered with straw. It’s the mulch we use most often here.

August is the least fun month, to me, in the garden. I always just try to survive it and wait for better weather. Even with all the disaster, disappointment, and failure we’ve had this year, we have still had food to eat, and up until the past two weeks, we’ve had most of our food from the garden. And still, time spent sitting in the garden just listening, looking, smelling, seeing and feeling, is some of the best time in my life. The garden is a paradise, still.