What is that eating my squash?

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 20, 2010

Even though some parts of the county received rain last week, it has been a hot tough time on the garden.

With all this heat, vegetable plants are responding as is their nature. Okra, eggplant, watermelons, sweet potatoes and other heat adapted plants are growing rapidly. Tomatoes, bell peppers, beans, sweet corn and other warm weather plants are starting to slow down and not set as much fruit due to pollen death and other related problems with high temperatures.

The best thing gardeners can do is to make sure there is adequate water for the plants to transpire and cool themselves. Like some vegetables many weeds are well adapted to hot conditions. Be sure to remove weeds every week since they compete with the desirable plants for water.

Q: What is chewing on my squash?

A: Some questions about vine borers have come in. These pests will bore into the stem of many of the vine plants like squash and cause trouble if untreated. If you think you are having trouble, you need to preventively apply insecticides around the base of the squash and other vine plants to prevent the eggs and their hatchlings from surviving to bore into the stem.

Q: Should I save my potatoes to plant in the fall?

A: This is a good question for those of you growing potatoes in the fall and wanting to know if you can save spring potatoes for seed. Normally it is better to get certified seed potatoes gown in regulated and inspected fields.

The main worry is viral diseases. There are not many seed potatoes available in September; however, so saving your own may be an option. Carefully inspect your potatoes for any signs of discoloration and use any suspicious ones to eat. Store the good potatoes in a cool, dry place that has some air flow.

Go through the stored potatoes once a month to remove any decaying ones. When night temperature began to fall below 70 degrees, you can use the stored potatoes to plant a fall crop.

Q: When should I plant Halloween pumpkins?

A: Every October people wish they could have planted pumpkins for the kids to carve for Halloween. Well you can.

But if you plan to grow your own pumpkins for Halloween, you need to start in July.

Pumpkins require at minimum of about 35 square feet per plant.

Pumpkins are not picky plants but there are some things they like. They prefer hot summers with lots of sunshine and plenty of space to grow and spread out.

They also love water and require lots more than the average vegetable plant. If you are using the ground in your backyard I would recommend adding some organic matter to the soil if possible.

Something to keep in mind is pumpkins need lots of root space. They not only spread out on top of the ground but their roots go down deep to.

It takes between 12-20 weeks to grow pumpkins depending on the variety. They come in all sizes from the Jack Be Little, which is about 2 inches tall, to the Big Max, which can be up to 100 pounds.

So start now and let the kids carve their own pumpkin for Halloween.

David Carter is the director of the Adams County Extension Service. He can be reached at 601-445-8201.