For the Love of Pumpkins

I love my pumpkins. After a good night’s rest I’ve decided that I won’t take it lying down.

Their demise that is.

In case you missed yesterday’s post, my nemesis the squash bug recently moved in. You can catch up here.

pumpkin female flower with bee

Female flower at the ready as a bee swoops in

Actually I did take one thing lying down: pictures. How else would I get a shot of the underside of the leaf and the attached eggs?

squash bug eggs

Squash bug eggs on the underside of a pumpkin leaf

squash bugs on stem

Leaves, tendrils, flowers and…more eggs

In a word, yuck!

I laid flat on my back and took photos looking up. Fortunately, no one walked by at the time or they surely would have called the paramedics. Amazingly, I managed to get back up, then spent the better part of an hour looking at the underside of every leaf on the pumpkin vines.

That scrutiny lead to another discovery: eggs on some of the pumpkin plant stems. In the end I’d scooped several adult bugs into my dry bucket, along with infested leaves and stems. I removed dead or browning leaves as well as spent flowers, making it easier to detect the adult bugs  They were happy to crawl on my glove and from there they went into a bucket. I dumped the infested leaves and bugs into the curb side green waste site, and within an hour the ‘green monster’ came by and scooped the entire pile into the back of the truck. This was another tip from one of the sites: rip them out and compost them.

pumpkin infested stems and leaves

Infested stems and leaves

The lovely Pauline at The Contented Crafter looked up companion plantings for me, something I hadn’t thought of nor come across in my reading. Ah, the web is vast indeed.  There is enough room in the boxes for additional plantings so I’ll give it a try.  Nasturtiums unfortunately need opposing growing conditions, but dill might work. I’m going to look for some at the garden center.

It’s unlikely that I removed all the eggs this morning. I’m pretty sure others still lurk on the vine. With daily checks, however, I hope to slow them down and possibly keep them at bay.

Stay tuned.

pumpkin vine trails deck

Trailing the deck

39 thoughts on “For the Love of Pumpkins

  1. Good job Alys! I came across something else this morning while I was researching natural flea and worm control for my pets – diatomaceous earth! Apparently it also works on ridding your garden of certain pests as well and may be something to check out for this problem. Anything with an exoskeleton is susceptible apparently. Wholly natural, chemical free and easily obtainable when you know where to look. Garden nurseries, organic shops, even Farmers Markets. I just purchased a 2kg bag of organic DE for pets and garden 🙂 http://www.richsoil.com/diatomaceous-earth.jsp This site says you have to keep it dry to work – shouldn’t be a problem in your part of the world 🙂

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    • Thanks, Pauline. I had heard this was a good solution for snails and slugs, but was reluctant to use it when the boys were young. I’ll have to revisit it. I hope it works to control the fleas in your house. Seeing them on animals is the worst.

      I appreciate the additional tips.

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  2. A great but unpleasant job done Alys! (Those eggs really are yucky!) I really hope they stay at bay and you can keep on top of them with regular checks. Best of luck!

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  3. Hi Alys. I don’t think we have that nasty bug here. I did a google search for squash bug and loads of info came up and then I changed the location search to NZ and there was nothing except for sites about people who enjoy the racket game squash! It seems like your pests can be relentless. If it isn’t squirrels, its squash bugs and tomato caterpillars. I think I shall have to moan a little less when the slugs and snails take bites out of my seedlings this summer as we really don’t have too many baddies in our gardens. All the best with your new attack. I hope you win the war, Cheers Sarah : o )

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    • Hurray for you and your garden, Sarah. The fewer garden pests, the better. Slugs and snails are certainly voracious, so I share your disappointment when they go to town on one of your crops. The copper banding helped this year, protecting my basil and lettuce, but only because they were in small boxes. It would be quite costly to do that in your large beds I’m afraid.

      Thanks for your good cheer and support.

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  4. Hand picking off bugs is the only way really if you’re organic. I hope you can keep on top of it, do they have any natural predators? Some wasps eat eggs and small caterpillars; they help me control the cabbage white on my brasicas. I’ve grown ‘Golden Nugget for the first time this year, any suggestions for favourite ways of cooking them; do they store well? I’m treating you as the expert!

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  5. oh man, i want to go run out and check my squash, Their eggs are gross! It really sounds like you caught it in time. I would usually not notice until there were a million adults of something running rampant. I know you are going to have the best crop ever- your plants will reward you! 🙂
    i am reading farmer boy to Claire from the little house on the prairie series- in there to grow the largest pumpkin they strip the plant back to one vine and one flower, then cut a slit in the underside of the vine between the root and the flower. Then insert a string into the slit that hangs down into a bowl of milk that is placed there fresh every day. Isn’t that amazing?!! I love the entire little house series, I am learning so much!

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    • Unfortunately, that’s what happened last year. I saw a few and then before I knew it they were everywhere. I have a picture of one of my pumpkins *covered* in them. They sucked out the juice within two days. I didn’t know to look for the eggs, thinking I was at the beginning of, not the end of, a cycle. Now I’m better educated, not to mention protective of those pumpkins.

      My sister read all of the Little House series and loved them. I’m not sure why I didn’t. I always loved mysteries, so I must have been devouring those. I love reading now and read a lot then, too.

      I know that if you remove the flowers and early fruit that you will direct the plants energy towards one pumpkin, but I did not know about the milk. I’ll have to see if my son is willing to give that a try. Thanks for the tip. I’m sure learning a lot this week.

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  6. They are entirely ruthless and don’t even try to hide out do they. I mean those eggs are huge. I also read somewhere that people but cyan pepper in a soap solution. I finally got out to trim up my climbing rose and see lots of wilted and black leaves here and there. I gave it some rose food and need to check on line what to do next. My arms are all scratched up but it looks way better 😀 Good luck with the attack on those buggers. What a nuisance. xoxK

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    • I know, right? They act like they own the place!

      Hmmm, pepper and soap, eh? I’ll have to give that a look. It’s certainly organic and readily available.
      Thanks for the suggestion.

      How nice to hear that you are tending a rose in your own garden. Yeah, you. I hope the food and your TLC help revive it. We used to have a huge patch of pink roses and they shredded my arms and hurt for days. It took me years, before it dawned on me to buy rose gloves. They have nice, thick gauntlets to protect your arms. They also came in handy the first time I had to catch Slinky for a trip to the vet. The only thing sharper than rose thorns are cat claws!

      Thanks for your well wishes. I had my tea on the step next to the pumpkins and sunflowers this morning. Those bugs are on notice!!!

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      • Oh, I must look for those gloves. Thanks for that Alys. I need to get out to our storage locker and bring a load home. Greenland Nursery is out there and I’ll pop in there. They’re the best for plants and tools (It’s where they have all the Christmas trees decorated in every colour imaginable too).

        I was thinking a little arbour would be nice to train the rose on. I could either go over a small walk way or even over a window in the other direction if I could manage a bigger one. I’ve seen them in the no maintenance materials but they’re pricey. I might wait and see if anything is on sale in the fall.

        Yes, Gung-ho-go give those bugs a butt kicking 😀 xoxo

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        • I love the idea of an arbour, all the more now that I’ve seen your garden tour. Best of luck finding a good deal in the fall. It’s probably easier to set one up in the dormant months as well. Most people in California prune their roses in January, but since yours are probably under snow at that time of year, what do they recommend?

          The bugs and eggs are back, but in smaller quantities. It’s not even a week! I scraped a few off the trellis today, amazed at how tough they were.

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          • Gads, guess what, I found tons of aphids on one of my planter pots yesterday too. Funny, only on one so far. I gave it a brisk spray with the garden hose but it’ll probably be a goner. Bugs bug me 😀

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              • Ha, oh cute ! I had to biggy-fy to see that because I’m half blind. Cute caterpillar and snail, but ant’s bug me too. I’ve been dealing with those critters in the back yard. Spoiler alert, I’m rounding them up and heading them out. I shovelled their home into a box and put that in a giant bag. I put it at the back of the driveway with intention of driving it over to the river bank and relocating them. Before I could, the garbage man took them away. I was surprised cause that box was plenty heavy, LOL. They wanted to live in our window well, so it was a combo of sand and gravel. I’m seeing some still but not as many as before. They’re on notice too 😉

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  7. I hope you can save the pumpkins and get rid of the eggs! Nasty! Our pumpkins are so huge right now and the vines are crawling everywhere! I still need to update my blog with pics!

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  8. Some time back, a friend who gardens organically told me he would mix up cayenne pepper and a bit of dish soap (to make it stick), then add a bunch of the bugs and whiz it up in the blender. He sprayed the concoction on the leaves of any plant affected. His theory was that it worked because all species avoid their own dead (to reduce disease, I suppose). Anyway, he swore by it. I never had the chance to try it myself as mostly when I had a garden, I didn’t have power. Either way, good luck with the pesties. ~ Linne

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