After the peas came out, Bed 2c was blessed with 2 “Orange Magic” winter squash plants that were started from seed a few days earlier. In the summer heat, both quickly grew large, gorgeous leaves and shortly thereafter these big, beautiful blooms appeared. Unlike some varieties, “Orange Magic” seems to set fruit with its very first blooms, rather than producing a lot of useless male blossoms first. (I say “useless” but they do make a tasty lunch when breaded and lightly fried! or used with ricotta and sage to stuff fresh ravioli!)
Quickly the vines climbed and wove through the pea fence, setting a lot of fruit as it grew. That’s another thing I like about “Orange Magic.” It’s not stingy, and one vine will produce lots of gorgeous deep orange (my favorite color!) 2-3 lb. fruit in about 80-85 days. In addition, it was the winner of my unofficial Squash Comparison tasting back in 2018, with its smooth grained, sweet, nutty flavor.
And then the bubble burst, and I recalled why I didn’t plant “Orange Magic” last year. I love it, my guests loved it…and the squash borers love it as well! If I had reviewed my notes, it was clearly stated. If I had read my notes, I would have been vigilant from the very outset, and armed with my trusty syringe and Bt, I might have nipped their attack at the beginning. As it was, I entered the battle late, maybe too late. The first day, I injected Bt just above where the frass indicated entry and activity, and made another injection about 3″ above that sight. I hoped that would do the trick and the borer would perish.
Next, I gave the plant a good watering and covered the base with moist soil, hoping it would develop more roots along the main stem above the damaged area and recover. Looking back, maybe that was wishful thinking.
Two more injections further up followed later that week, and then even later I decided emergency surgery was required, so I hosed off all the dirt piled at the base, sterilized a sharp knife and opened up the stem at the frass area. I could have taken photos of the two fat, happy white borers with light brown heads removed, but I didn’t. Bt has to be eaten by the borers in order to be lethal, and apparently they didn’t eat any although they appeared to be surrounded by the liquid! Guess they didn’t drink either. I carefully checked for other frass areas, but didn’t find any. The moist soil was replaced around the base.
Don’t be confused…this is the same squash plant, but the photo was taken from the opposite side, so now it’s on the right rather than the left. Obviously, I lost the first battle of the Borer War, but so far (knock wood) I’m holding my own in plant #2, and being very vigilant inspecting plants #3 and #4, which were planted a week later than those in these photos. Today, I will conduct a post mortem on the deceased. I want to know more about how the stems and leaves are constructed internally, and to see if there were more borers further up the stalk. It will be an educational session, I hope, and I will take notes…which should be helpful next year…if I remember to read them!