Serve Squash Year-Round – A Guest Post from Bob Westerfield

October is Farm to School Month and this year Georgia is celebrating with Oh My Squash! You can visit the project webpage for more information on how to participate. Many of you may be growing a late crop of squash for this campaign so I thought it was worth reposting Bob Westerfield’s article on growing squash. He is a UGA horticulturalist and our go-to guy for vegetable production.   Bob writes:

To most Southern gardeners, fried yellow squash or grilled zucchini are staples on the table during the summer. Serving up home grown winter squash in the fall is worthy of bragging rights.

While normally easy to grow, the endless choice of varieties and numerous garden pests have made growing squash a little more challenging. Squash come in an endless assortment of shapes, sizes and colors. Choosing the right variety can seem daunting. The squash vine borer, a persistent pest, has caused some gardeners to give up on growing squash.

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Your Garden Mission – Eliminate Squash Bug Eggs

This week’s garden mission – eliminate squash bug eggs before they become squash bugs!

Scouting for pests in your garden on a regular basis is a MUST.  Scouting alerts you to problems before they get out of hand.  This time of the year as you scout among your squash plants you may see squash bug eggs.  They are not too hard to spot and should be in a cluster:

Your Garden Mission - Eliminate Squash Bug Eggs
Squash bug eggs appear in a cluster.

If you find an egg cluster congratulate yourself because you can now stop this pest cycle.  There are several ways to do this.  You could remove this leaf.  Or, flick the eggs off the leaf with your fingernail but you run the risk of just moving a viable egg that could eventually become a squash bug.  There is an easy way to get rid of these eggs and keep the squash leaf intact.

First, cut a short length of tape.  Clear packing tape seems to work very well:

Your Garden Mission - Eliminate Squash Bug Eggs
Clear packing tape works well.

Next,  press the tape on top of the eggs.  Press firmly and move the tape around a bit.  The eggs stick to the tape:

Your Garden Mission - Eliminate Squash Bug Eggs
Press firmly so the eggs attach to the tape.
Your Garden Mission - Eliminate Squash Bug Eggs
The tape lifts the eggs off of the plant while leaving the leaf intact.

Finally, remove the tape and fold it. Crush the eggs within the folded tape and your potential pest problem is removed.  Notice the squash leaf is intact.

If you miss scouting and missed finding the squash eggs, the eggs hatch and these squash nymphs become squash bugs:

Your Garden Mission - Eliminate Squash Bug Eggs
Eggs hatch into nymphs that are on their way to become squash bugs!

An easy chemical-free way to take care of your garden!  For more information on growing squash successfully see UGA’s Home Garden Series:  Homegrown Summer and Winter Squash.

Wishing you a squash bug-free garden.

Happy Gardening!