Monday, November 30, 2009

Something's Eating My Butternut Squash. . .

. . . and it's not me! :-/  I'm really upset.  I went out to the garden just before we left for a 4-day Thanksgiving holiday and I was crushed.  My butternut squash looks awful.  I had noticed the leaves were beginning to turn brittle and some of the vines were dying. 

Well my survey this morning confirmed my fears...I believe the squash vine borers got to it.  This has never happened to me before.  Last year the Southern Corn Rootworm really hurt my Brussels sprouts but I was able to eradicate them and although I lost one plant, the rest of the sprouts did fine.  No such luck with the B/N squash. 

And I'm pretty sure I know the problem.  It's the soil.  It always comes back to the soil.  I planted the B/N squash in one of my new beds and violating one of my own rules, I didn't add compost, mulch or augment the soil in any way.  Fatal error.  I assumed (mistake #1) that since the soil was new and according to my landscape guy, "the best garden soil there is" (mistake #2 in believing him), that I didn't need to add any compost.  I was wrong.  Here is a sampling of the two different soils...what do you think? 

Can you see the difference?  The soil on the left is hard, clayey and way too tight; the soil on the right (from one of my other beds) is soft, loose, nice & dark and full of organic matter.  There it's all in the soil. 

So I'm disappointed and very annoyed at myself for not following my instinct and adding compost to the new beds.  I was very anxious to use the new bed and planted without doing the necessary initial work.  I just hope I can salvage a few of the squash that are on the vines now.  A few of them are pretty big and I hope they ripen completely before I pull those plants. 

Sigh...Lesson learned.  Unfortunately, I see a huge garden maintenance problem ahead of me in the spring.  I'll have to remove most of the soil in that bed (and the other new bed) and add a lot of compost in order to make it a viable garden bed.  But that can wait till early spring.

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