Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I performed surgery.

Yes, I performed surgery today.

Armed with a kitchen knife, aluminum foil, and gardening gloves.

The squash bores have done enough damage. Today I planed action.

Yesterday evening, I stalked to Dad's gardening shelf and pulled out every gardening book that had helped me in the past. Staggering under my armload, I sat down on the living room couch and searched the indexes for "squash bores."

The information I found told me to prevent female squash bores from laying their eggs by mulching the squash plants with aluminum foil.

Okay, Amber. Make a note of that for future reference. But what about NOW?

The only solution given was to carefully slice open the stalks of the plants and remove the bores by hand.


"Slice the stalks? Won't that kill the plant?"

"Come on, Amber - the plants are dying anyway."

"Oh yes. Right."

So I went out this morning.

I didn't know what I was looking for. What do squash bores look like, anyway? Are they microscopic little black creatures? Or are they like large spiders? At least I could spot where they had entered the plants; holes the size of a pencil lead marked their entrances. The insides of the stalks had been chewed to gummy sawdust and pushed out the holes, littering the ground around the base of the plants.

We had three yellow squash plants left; no zucchini had survived. Cringing, I sliced open one stalk near one of the holes. This didn't feel right. I'm supposed to slice vegetables, not the plants they grow on!

Wiggling the tip of my knife inside the plant, I waited for something to happen - some swarm of tiny insects to come flying out. But the inside of the stalk was empty.

Empty. That wasn't good; there was suppose to be....whatever is suppose to be inside a stalk. Stalks aren't suppose to be hollow, and lined with more gummy sawdust - but they were.

I scraped the sawdust-like residue off the insides of the stalk, and sat back on my heels. Looking at the way I had torn up the stalk, I wondered if I should try the other two plants. I knew I hadn't solved anything on this plant.

"But I might never have an opportunity to experiment with this kind of cure again. The plants are dying anyway."

I moved on to the next plant.

Finding a hole, I sliced open a plant again. This was a little better; the stalk had a hole up the center, but it wasn't completely hollow.

No indeed.

The tip of my knife stuck something soft. Through the crack I had cut, I saw something white.

It squirmed.


I don't know how I managed to drag that thing out.

It looked like a fat caterpillar. A very over-fed caterpillar. He had rolls of fat on him...or her. And a big black head, with huge eyes.

Somehow I moved my hand - with the knife - to the cement blocks surrounding the squash bed, and I pressed the ...the thing to death between my blade and the block. The blood was yellow and thick. I nearly lost my breakfast.

My churning stomach must have dulled my good sense. I stuck my knife back up in the hole.

Three more critters followed their leader to a quick and painful death.

Permit me to wind up this story before I make myself sick all over again: I found eight squash bores all together between that plant and the next. All were ugly. All were killed quickly. I left two in plain sight so I could later gross out my family.

I surrounded all three plants with foil, and put a few rocks on it to keep it from blowing away. I watered them well, hoping they would recover from surgery without complications.

I am now waiting to see if the plants survive. I hope they do, after all I went through for them.

After exiting the O.R., and changing from my scrubs, I planted two rows of beans. (Yes, I know it's a little late in the season, but we're seeing if we can get away with it.)

Planting beans is so much easier than curing diseases.

Can you believe that when I was little wanted to be a nurse?


Sandra said...

UGGGGHHHHH!!! I should have listened to you, to not read this post. I don't think I have ever seen this bug, and I hope I don't!!!

Like my mom and I say, and we're serious: Bugs are a cause of the fall. I really believe that, or at least 99 % of them are.

Anonymous said...

That's so gross! Way to go for getting them though! i hope you plants live. We get frusterated with pests alot in our garden too.
One time, two summers ago, we had about 4 Butternut Squash plants. They were beautiful plants, and together they had about 9 squashes, most of them around ten pounds, but they wern't quite ripe yet. And we went up to the garden (our garden is at our neighbors house about 500 yards away) to check them but found that they were quite mutilated. By groundhogs. We had about 1 and a half leftover. It was very frusterating andthere was nothing we could do about it.
Anyways, I'm sure that groundhog had GREAT dinner!!!

By the way, Butternut Squash are really good and easy to grow. But the pictures of Butternut Squash on the internet are yellow, but ours were green and white striped and really big! We got the seeds from my grandmother and I think she's grown them for a long time, so I guess that's why they're differnt.

Glad you solved that problem, or at least you'll know what to do next time!

Anna W

Amber said...

Sorry for grossing you out, girls. ...Weeeellll...maybe not entirely sorry. *grin* There's a little bit of a rascal nature left in me, I think. :) Just so long as I'M not the one picturing the bugs in my sleep. :)

You tale about the butternut squash is quite sad, Anna. I understand the feeling! Ah, well - have you tried again? I love the taste of butternut squash, but we've never grown it. The variety you described sounds unique and beautiful.

Long may our gardens prosper; death to every fat white foe who disturbs their peace!

Sarah said...

Thank you for sharing your adventure, Amber! I am so glad that you rid your plants of those little pests, and hopefully your plants will spring back!