A tragedy of zucchini proportions

Yes, disaster has come to my garden. And it is not pretty.

Our family has been away for ten days, and we are indebted to G. who came every single day to water the garden. Having come through a hot, dry spell in Ontario, I am sure everything would have been dead by the time we arrived back home had it not been for his hard work!

Going out to the garden after an absence is always a little bit scary. What might have happened while we were away? The surprises could be fantastic–new things are blooming–or they could be terrible. Sadly, I found a bad situation.

My zucchini plants have all been afflicted with vine borers. What are vine borers, you ask? They are small white worms that look alot like the common grubs we get in our lawns. They get into the vine of a squash plant (in this case, summer squash but they affect things like pumkins, too)  and eat their way through the plant’s flesh. A plant may survive for awhile, but eventually the leaves and fruit turn yellow and then die.

This spring, I knew that my zucchini were having trouble but I thought it was blossom end rot, so I added a granular fertilizer with extra calcium, which is supposed to help. I also made sure they were evenly watered, which is supposed to help, too (Thank you again, G. for your help with that one!). But alas, I was wrong. It was the darned bugs.

I spent a sad morning pulling out my front yard zucchini plants. All of them were infected. And although with a vining squash the bugs can be dug out with a sharp knife and the vine mounded with dirt to re-grow, my little guys were horribly infested with not just one or two but with 6 or 8 or 10 per plant. I put them all in brown paper yard waste bags, becuase I don’t want to infect my compost pile with them. Such a sad end to the little seedlings I sprouted from seed in my kitchen.

Gardening is not for the faint of heart. It is not for the easily deterred, either. Problems, setbacks, pests and diseases come to every garden eventually. All we can do is accept the trouble, clean it up, and start again. It is a good lesson is life’s bigger disasters, too, I suppose.

The news was not all bad in my garden today, though. I did manage to harvest three decent sized zucchinis, plus the last bit of romaine lettuce that hadn’t bolted yet and the first of the golden beets, all of which we will enjoy for supper. That took some of the sting out of my zucchini tragedy.

Everybody I talk to has a story about a bumper crop of zucchini that gets made into muffins, loaves, lasagnes and sauces. I guess I will have to wait until next year to create that kind of story for myself. Until then, rest in peace my little zucchini friends.

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8 Responses to A tragedy of zucchini proportions

  1. Karen says:

    Sorry about your losses but your golden beets look nice. I always enjoy cooking their tops also.

    • Thanks for your comment. It’s the first year I have grown beets of this colour and I am quite pleased with them. I was wondering about cooking the tops–your comment makes me think I should try it for tonight’s dinner!

  2. I’ve heard of, but never seen, vine borers. It’s hard to believe that something that small and icky can do so much damage. My problem pest this year was potato beetles.

    The good thing about zucchini though is that someone always has too much and typically shares. I’ve heard of gardeners “zucchini bombing” their neighborhoods and leaving the veggies on people’s porches here in the States. 🙂

  3. Bob MacMillan says:

    Sad to hear about the Zucchini. Just sad.

  4. mre says:

    I was sorry to read of the loss of your zucchini. When my sister and I were little, we would’ve loved to have had a certain few acres of Eastern Ontario farmland infected with the vine borer – we seemed to have a bumper crop of zucchini every year, served to us (at least) 3 meals a day for (at least) several months…
    Now I wish I could be zucchini bombed! I never thought I would grow to enjoy the vegetable I was so sick of as a child 🙂
    I hope the beets were as delicious as they looked.

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