July 22, 2012

Invasion from Within: The Squash Borers Attack "Alien" style

My exploding foamy squash vine
Squash Borers.  I hate them.  I've only just met them, and I already hate them.

Yesterday, I went to weed around the squash and saw that the vines near the soil looked like something out of a science fiction movie.  The insides had turned into foam and burst from the confines of the vine walls.  It was creepy, and I wondered what bacteria could do that.  They were beautiful, and everything was growing well one day, and the next, it was like they'd dissolved into creepy foam.

I googled "squash vine foam" and discovered pictures that looked exactly like my squash:  I had vine borers.  According to the University of Minnesota's extension website page on Managing Vine Borers in Home Gardens, all of this destruction was caused by the nasty larvae of a kind of a funky looking clearwing moth.  I knew nothing about this thing, so all the information below is from them.  You should check out their full article for a more detailed explanation, and read more for my short one.

July 19, 2012

Growing Pumpkins Up

The pumpkin is engaged in a hostile takeover of the garden. . .and the yard.  Having crowded out the peppers, it's now marching across the lawn toward the road and the neighbor's hedge. 

This is a problem because we live in rental military housing, and our lawn isn't technically "ours."  There are no fences between the houses, and every space except for our porches is communal.  That's part of why I made a raised bed--the defined edges to the garden ensured that the neighborhood kids that run around don't also run OVER the garden. 

July 17, 2012

Cooking our First Summer Squash

The squash is growing!  We have our first actual summer squash, and it's ready to pick.  It's that glorious bright yellow and just the right size for us to eat.

I was excitedly showing it off to my husband, and he asked skeptically "so. . .you like squash?"

"Oh no," I replied, "I was kind of hoping you did.  It's from those shared seeds. . .they were free, so I grew squash."

There was a long pause, and then from beside me I heard a quiet "um, no. Never been a fan.  I don't suppose you know how to cook it."

In that moment, I realized that one of the biggest producers in my garden was a crop I'd never liked and didn't know how to cook.  My mom suggested a cool recipe, which I'll try with the next squash--goodness knows I'll have plenty of practice because there are plenty of baby squash out there growing.  If that's a success, I'll post it in a blog entry later because I don't have the ingredients for it today.

May 8, 2012

Protect Plants from Cold Without Trashing the Yard

So, you planted too early?  Now it's time to think about serious protection for plants.  Unfortunately, plant covers cost money and are typically kind of ugly.  Home made solutions make the garden look like a tornado's just strewn the contents of your laundry room or recycling bin across the garden.  And, in my case, when that garden is also the "decorative" front lawn in military housing, it is cause for annoyed neighbors and violation warnings.  Fortunately, there are ways to protect delicate plants from the cold without looking like you're also running the worlds trashiest yard sale.

May 7, 2012

I Planted too Early. . .Now to Protect Plants from the Cold

I grew up gardening in Michigan, where spring weather changes constantly.  The saying in Michigan, as it is in many states, is that if you don't like the weather you should just wait five minutes.  In the depths of a hard Michigan winter, that saying sounds like a cruel joke as weeks go by without sunlight  during short days and cold temps.  But, in spring, it rings true again, and the temperatures fluctuate wildly--rising into the seventies one day, and bumping up only slightly into the forties the next.  Night temperatures meander around like drunkards, floating around the upper 40's one night and in the low 20's another.

April 21, 2012

4 Tips For Getting Plant Bargains at the Store

Yesterday, we searched for decorative plants for my brother's yard.  His back yard is full sun, and his front yard is mostly shady, and he plans to live in his house for quite a while.  As usual, I had my eye out for a bargain, which made me think more about ways to get plants for cheap at stores.  It's amazing what deals you can get on plants that need a little TLC.