Ack! Squash Bugs!

We knew something was up about a week ago when a few of our squash plants started looking, well…rather bad. This was particularly true of our volunteer squash, which went from strong and green to yellowed and wilty seemingly overnight.

Something’s up, and it’s not good.

The culprit, it turned out, was…and still is…squash bugs.

They look a little like Shield Bugs, but they are rounder.

Yuck. And double yuck.

Too many creepy-crawlies…ewww

So, here’s the thing. Since day one, we’ve striven to make a pesticide-free garden. We’ve seen and death with lots of bugs since our very first plantings, from aphids and tomato worms to too many beetles to count. We’ve let nature take it’s course, using natural remedies only as a last resort. This situation almost made us rethink things, because…it’s bad. Really bad. Because of all the problematic bugs, destructive squash beetles have to be among the worst. Unchecked, they’ll tear through a bed of squash plants in no time. Unfortunately, given how busy we’ve been with non-garden work this summer and how late we noticed the infestation, it may be too late for our squash.

More sadness.

Still, that doesn’t mean we’re giving up! Oh no, upon finding far too many baby squash beetles crawling all over our plants, we went out and got some peppermint castile soap. Castile soap can be used as a natural insecticide, for one, and supposedly squash beetles don’t like peppermint. We tried the soap — a mixture of 1/4 cup of soap to a quart of water — for the first time this past weekend, after waiting for a few bouts of rain to subside. And…it’s working? Well, we think it might be. The baby squash bugs are still on the plants, but they aren’t in their normal clusters. Instead, they’ve scattered. And there may be a couple less adult bugs. But it’s too early to tell. We’ll respray the plants every few days over the next couple weeks and hope for the best. Interestingly, the bugs only seem to enjoy a couple particular plants, namely the zucchini and butternut squash. A few of the plants look to be untouched, though it seems they all have signs of squash beetle eggs, at least. So the whole bed is getting sprayed, regardless.

While that whole situation stinks, there are some good things that have happened and are happening in the garden. For one, we picked a bunch of cucumbers and made a couple batches of bread and butter pickles.

Just need to hold off on opening them for a few weeks. Gonna be tough!

Our volunteer tomato plant turned out to be a yellow cherry tomato of some sort, and it’s been producing like mad!

These could be Yellow Gooseberries, Sunpeach Hybrids, or some other variation. Whatever they are, they are very sweet! The green ones are a variety called Green Vernissage – they were free seeds we got this year.

Oh, and flowers! Our snapdragons have come along nicely, and we’ve now got strawflowers! They are much taller than we expected, and they have prettiest blooms. Their petals feel slightly papery, hence the “straw” in their name.

The Black Prince snapdragons are a deep maroon…
…while the Apple Blossom snapdragons are a pretty shade of pink.
The strawflowers have the most gorgeous blooms!
This one’s reminiscent of a daisy – so lovely!

That’ll do it for another week. We’ll be back next time with our second round-up in pictures…and hopefully some of them will show improvement in the squash!