Earlier this year, I planted several yellow crookneck squash. I’d been told that squash and tomatoes are hard to grow here and that crooknecks were a good option for this warm, humid climate. I figured that if squash was prolific in normal circumstances, maybe here, where they’re harder to grow, the plants would produce a nice, usable amount of squash.
The seeds sprouted, flowered, and fruited. I harvested a couple of squash and ate them. And then I noticed that there was something wrong with the squash. There were big orange blobs inside the blossoms and perfectly round holes drilled into the fruit. Was this the fruit fly damage that so many people had told me about? After much internet searching and with the help of one gardener on the Attainable Sustainable Facebook page, I identified the problem: pickleworm. This is not something that I’d ever heard of before and it turns out there hasn’t been much success with organic control. I spent several days over the course of the week culling the damaged fruit and smashing eggs and pickleworms. Today I discovered that there were even eggs inside the stems of a couple of plants and every single fruit was infested.
So I pulled the plants out. It doesn’t make any sense to take up precious space with a plant that’s going to struggle to produce. Squash are not my very favorite vegetable. They’ve always been a part of my garden, but that’s because they’ve been so painless to grow – stick a seed or two in the ground and in a couple of months there’s enough for the entire neighborhood. Clearly, that’s not the case here.
I’ll be doing some research locally, talking to farmers who grow squash successfully, to find out if they’re doing so organically. Maybe they’ll share some tips that will inspire me to try again.
Is there something that you’ve given up growing because it just doesn’t thrive in your region?