Squash Vine Borer season-

tracydr(9b)May 11, 2010

Do we have a specific season or seasons for SVB in the Valley? I'd like to know the best time for planting all of my cucurbits/squash varieties to best avoid the SVB.

Of course, I've already planted and have stuff that's 4 inches high but I'm considering second/third plantings and back-up plans for my favorites such as muskmelons, armenian cucumbers, etc.

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As I recall ... they lay eggs in late May and much of June.

They aren't always a problem, especially if you leave the squash bed exposed for the birds to dig the grubs out.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2010 at 12:07AM
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MaryMcP Zone 8b - Phx AZ

Those little buggers decimated a crop two years ago and I was soooo mad. I did some research and found recommendations that if you slip the early vine starts through a piece of pantyhose, secure the bottom of the hose in the dirt, the SVB cannot enter the vine. I tried this last year using old knee-high type hose with the toe cut out and then the hose cut in half. Had NO SVB's. Did the same this year but it's too early to tell if it's working again.

I'm hopeful.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2010 at 9:47AM
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I'm having a hard time picturing that ... is the panty hoce covering the stem or the dirt?

Any pics?

    Bookmark   May 12, 2010 at 1:44PM
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MaryMcP Zone 8b - Phx AZ

The panty hose is embedded in the dirt and drawn up over the stem - as if the stem were your leg for example. The hose surrounds the stem like a loose girdle. I can try and get a picture later if this doesn't make it clear.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2010 at 4:03PM
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Sounds like way too much trouble to me. What's next? fashion pantyhose especially made for squash? I think I saw the moths around and they did a number on my squash last year. I say organic shmorganic, time to nuke the heck out of all of them. I'm tired of this crap. I hate using chemicals, but I'm NOT going to share my garden with those disgusting vermin. They can just take a sip of Sevin and die. I just learned that I'm getting some chickens as a result of someone who can't keep them anymore because of their HOA. Too bad they can't be trained to only eat garden pests and leave the garden alone.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2010 at 4:31PM
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Thanks lazy gardens! Hopefully, I missed the season since my stuff just came up last week and just planted a few more this week.
I'm really looking forward to trying Armenian dukes and patty pans for the first time. Plus I love squash soup so I'll be freezing or canning as many of the winter squash as possible.
For Greendesert- Sevin is not an option. It's an organophosphate (nerve gas for ex-military types). I'm trying to get pregnant at a late age so chemicals of any kind are off limits in our household.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2010 at 7:14PM
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MaryMcP Zone 8b - Phx AZ

If there are any chemicals in the panty hose that I doubt they will leach into the soil. greendesert, I find that, compared to some garden tasks, slipping a piece of fabric over a young seedling is hardly any trouble at all. YMMV.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2010 at 9:10PM
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If they lay eggs for much of June maybe I need to consider the panty hose or row covers. As we're only talking about less than 10 plants (I don't think I have to count the cucurbits) it shouldn't be that bad. Mary, do you have any kind of picture of your panty hose set up? How long do you cut it and when do you apply it to the seedling? Most of mine are 4-6 inches long right now.
Also, anyone have a good iron supplement that works a little faster than ironite and that is organic? Some of the squashes are looking a bit anemic and they're in a container with runner beans that have a very anemic look to them. I think they're in a need of a boost of some minerals.
I'll added some ironite already but not sure if that gets to them very quickly? Maybe I'm not using enough? I've never had to deal with iron issues and high pH before moving to AZ. I've always had high iron, low pH in Oklahoma.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2010 at 10:47PM
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MaryMcP Zone 8b - Phx AZ

The panty hose are maybe 6" long and slipped on when the seedlings are young, 3-4", maybe 6". I'll try for a pic in the morning but everything is very bushy now and not photogenic because the early stem is buried in foliage. :~:

    Bookmark   May 12, 2010 at 11:04PM
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MaryMcP Zone 8b - Phx AZ

Here you go, panty hose deters SVB's!!

Another shot:

Remember, all you are trying to do is block the bug from entering the stem from the soil. Droopy panty hose are okay in this usage. :~) I try to make sure the bottom end is anchored in the soil.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2010 at 10:28AM
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OK. MaryMCP, you've convinced me. I don't have any old panty hose to speak of but I will be buying some bargain priced ones and giving my squash some droopy knee highs this week. What a wonderfully creative solution to such a horrible problem.
Now, to verify-I don't need to do this to cucurbits, correct? But the armenian is actually a squash so I guess he needs one too. So, muskmelons and watermelons, they need them also?
Some of my varieties are new to me this year, like the armenian and I've also never really grown melons (at least not very successfully) so I'm not that familar with them.
I sure wish I knew what I'd "planted" in my worms. It's starting to come up like crazy in my tomatoes this week after side dressing with worm compost. Not sure if it's spaghetti squash, acorn, cucumbers, pumpkins or what! Can't decide if I want to weed or transplant it, LOL!!

    Bookmark   May 13, 2010 at 11:54AM
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haha... Sevin is nerve gas. Now that is a good one.
Sevin and Sarin are most definitely not even close to being the same thing. Sarin is what you're talking about, and yes that's nerve gas, Sevin is naphthyl methylcarbamate. Yes it's most likely toxic to humans if you eat it with a spoon, but at normal application rates it is one of the safest pesticides out there. Studies have shown that it has virtually no effect on pregnancies. Being exposed to a cat is probably 100 times more dangerous for a pregnant person and the unborn than eating squash treated with Sevin.
Sure it would be nice if we wouldn't have to use any pesticides at all ever, but if it wasn't for pesticides, the world would be most likely dealing with major famine because it is simply not possible to produce the amount of food needed for everybody today by using only organic methods.
I don't know what to say about the the pantyhose idea, I might try it, but I don't think it's a silver bullet. I mean what's to stop the thing from boring into the vine just a little above the pantyhose? it may be effective, but I would say the "organic only" bandwagon is not one that I'm willing to jump on.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2010 at 3:26PM
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grant_in_arizona(USDA Z9 Scottsdale AZ)

I LOVE this discussion and the panty hose solution. Thanks for sharing it, Mary. I'm curious too about whether squash vine borer will also go after melons etc too. I have always thought it was a pest on all cucurbits (gourds, melons, cukes, etc) but I'm curious to hear what other think.

In any case, I'm going to get some cheapies at the dollar store (or Goodwill if they sell them) and put some on my baby 'Tigger' melon seedlings just in case.

Love it!
Thanks all,

    Bookmark   May 13, 2010 at 7:15PM
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Ok Greendesert. I used to be the IIIrd Army Corps Surgeon so I learned a little bit about chemical warfare. I was also on the Emergency Preparedness Team for Oklahoma after 9/11 for a few years. I've been to several special advanced courses on these issues and I won't bore anyone with the details concerning how it all works but trust me when I tell you that Sevin dust is closely related to the organophosphates which make up the bulk of the chemical warfare arsenal. It inhibits acetylcholinesterase and the antidote is atropine. Atropine is the antidote that soldiers in Iraq and Desert Storm were issued for possible chemical attacks.
I've personally seen dogs overdosed with Sevin dust in vain attempts at "flea" treatments and it wasn't pretty at all.

Here's some information on organophosphates from the CDC websites:

"Nerve agents are the most toxic of the known chemical warfare agents. They are chemically similar to organophosphate pesticides and exert their biological effects by inhibiting acetylcholinesterase enzymes. G-type agents are clear,colorless, and tasteless liquids that are miscible in water and most organic solvents. GB is odorless and is the most volatile nerve agent; however, it evaporates at about the same rate as water. GA has a slightly fruity odor, and GD has a slight camphor-like odor. VX is a clear, amber-colored, odorless, oily liquid. It is miscible with water and soluble in all solvents. It is the least volatile nerve agent. Table 1 lists selected physical properties for each of the nerve agents."

Thanks Greendesert, for introducing such a volatile topic. By the way, how many honey bees did you see in your garden last year? Save the trouble of not having to put pantyhose on my squash and then I get to pollinate them by hand? NOT!!

    Bookmark   May 13, 2010 at 10:52PM
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MaryMcP Zone 8b - Phx AZ

Here's links to some articles: (I didn't make this up in a dream, I found the solution from lengthy internet searches.) Tracy, thanks for clearing the air (so to speak) about Sevin dust. Grant, I dunno about melons, I don't grow any.


This link is from Garden Web, scroll down a bit for the panty hose note:


I like this one even better - empty toilet paper rolls....should be MUCH easier to apply, and for those not having old panty hose around, well,you're sure to have some of these!!!!: I had actually thought of using short lengths of pvc pipe. Duh!!!


Happy reading. [I forgot the links only work if I put them in the Optional Link URL box. Just copy and paste to your browser's address bar.]

Fun - and very informative - thread.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2010 at 9:44AM
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What a great idea with the toilet paper rolls and even pvc pipe. I have tons of pvc pipe as I use it to make agility obstacles for my dog. I'm sure I could sacrifice one extra pole to make little skirts for my squashes. I also could save toilet paper rolls and they'll add up in no time.
Mary, you've given me a ton of information. Thanks again! Your squash look lovely by the way. Mine are only about 4 inches tall right now but they're also only about 2 weeks old. They are greening up now with the application of organic fertilizer and iron that they got last week so I think I'm on the right track at least.
What types are you growing? I've got patty pan, delicata, armenian cucumber, butternut and spaghetti squash. Plus, acorn. Then I have some sort of cantelope/muskmelon from HD, as well as a large watermelon from HD, don't remember the varieties. Plus, some mystery squash/cucurbits???? in the tomato garden that just came up this week from the worm poo. I figured I'll just see what it looks like and probably move it to a better place since it won't have enough room where it is. It's probably something tasty or the seeds wouldn't have been in the worm poo to begin with, LOL!
So much garden, so little time!

    Bookmark   May 14, 2010 at 12:52PM
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Well I could go on and argue but I still don't believe that Sevin is anywhere near as toxic at recommended levels as you say. It may be related to the organophosphates but it is not one of them (Diazinon is). And yes, carbamates do inhibit ACh, but unlike organophosphates, the effect is very short lived. We're talking 30 minutes to at most a couple of days (with a very high dose) as opposed to permanent.
I think the idea is to use the stuff wisely. I actually don't use it much, but from time to time I think it's necessary. And I don't spread it around in the wind like a fool.
>By the way, how many honey bees did you see in your
>garden last year?
I can say that I used it a little a couple of years ago and I saw zero effect on the bee population in my garden of which I'm very protective, especially carpenter bees. I have tomato plants right now that are so well pollinated that there's no doubt the bees are alive and well in my garden. the trick is not to spray the whole plant indiscriminatly. I generally avoid spraying the blooms and upper parts.
I think I'm probably more green at heart than a lot of people out there who preach green living. I'm a composting fanatic, reuse my graywater use mostly organic fertilizers (I raise quails), but I also have a job, family and kids and don't have time to babysit plants or sit in the garden with a flyswatter all day to kill pests.
I've read up on Sevin, and obviously it is not without side effects but to me it seems that using it cautiously minimizes the risks to the point where they're hardly worth worrying about.
Here are some of the studies that seemed to make sense to me:


anyway, I think this is enough for today. and sorry I steered this discussion in the wrong direction. I have a tendency to be opinionated, but I think I'm also fairly well informed. So back to the SVB topic.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2010 at 1:03PM
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MaryMcP Zone 8b - Phx AZ

It's all good. The best point you made is "...using it cautiously". Remember my comment about "....embracing organic gardening but sometimes you gotta use a sledge hammer." The panty hose/toilet paper rolls are such a neat, easy idea and you were raining on that parade. No hard feelings, let's move on.

Tracy, agility dog huh? I had my Cavalier in that for a while, until I ran out of time for it. He was in a club called The Jumping Chollas. It's good fun and I loved it but took too much time to do it right. What breed is your four-legged buddy?

For squash I'm growing zucc, crookneck and spaghetti. Then tomatoes, and lots of hot peppers.

Gotta run right now, would love to chat more.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2010 at 2:50PM
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The borers will lay eggs above the panty hose protection ... they go for the fat stems anywhere they can find them.

I'm going to be succession-planting, and am willing to yank out any affected plants so the larvae don't get to pupate.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2010 at 10:13AM
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Mary who knew you were putting socks on your squash. Good on ya. You can grab a handfull of footies when you are trying on shoes or just looking around in a shoe store. They work well for my peaches. My peach tree is covered in socks right now and I use them to keep bird pecks off my ripening tomatoes. I visited a shoe store a couple of years ago and told them why I wanted footies...they gave me a whole bag of them.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2010 at 11:58AM
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MaryMcP Zone 8b - Phx AZ

I remember that footie story Jayne. But footies will be too small, wrong shape. I'm going to switch to the toilet paper rolls.

Lazy, it's hard to prove a negative...."I didn't get SVB's because I blocked entry with a length of pantyhose/toilet paper roll/pvc pipe".....but my experience is that once those buggers get started it's all over but the cryin'. The whole bed gets hit. That was my experience anyway. But I appreciate your input, as always.

Have been picking baby squashes and they are delish! straight from the garden, tiny, firm, warm. Ahhhh, fresh veggies.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2010 at 4:50PM
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grant_in_arizona(USDA Z9 Scottsdale AZ)

Okay, I broke down and bought a box of pantyhose at Safeway! I had to call my sister to ask which aisle they would be in, LOL. My 'Tigger' melon vines are still small, but I'll fit them with their "socks" when it's time. :)

I like the toilet paper idea too, and the succession planting. I guess I'm just going to spin the ol' wheel of fortune and hope for the best.

Mary, pickling recipe pleazzzzze???

Take care all,

    Bookmark   May 18, 2010 at 3:56PM
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MaryMcP Zone 8b - Phx AZ

Grant, what are you talking about with the pickling recipe request? Did I say something about pickling? I scrolled back up and didn't see anything. Are you reading my mind? I recently found a red cabbage recipe I want to try but that's not related to this thread.


    Bookmark   May 18, 2010 at 8:36PM
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grant_in_arizona(USDA Z9 Scottsdale AZ)

LOL, thanks for the reply, Mary. I re-re-re-read your post and NOW I see you said you were PICKING baby squash and they were delicisous, not PICKLING, lol. I'm not a summer-squash fan (love winter squash though) and was hoping for a recipe to make them delicious, LOL. Sorry about that.

Take care all,
Grant, pantyhose in garden supply area of side yard. :)

    Bookmark   May 24, 2010 at 7:51PM
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I have the following on good experienced authority: After vines come up poke about four depressions around each stem with your little finger and plant a radish seed at proper depth. plantings should be 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch from stems. Let radishes go to seed for lasting protection.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 11:50AM
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Leo123: I wonder if radishes would repel squash bugs too. Ive only had two seasons experience growing squash: I didn't see any SVB but squash bugs decimated all 5 plants I had (both in beds and in containers).

This year I'm experimenting with catnip (supposed to repel SB) and jicama...if I can find it. I'll add radishes for good measure. I've got seed and it certainly can't hurt.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 5:34PM
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I've never been able to grow zucchini. Every time, I get that bug. I think it's those pill bugs though. I see them eating the stem. Wouldn't the pill bugs or the squash borwer easily crawl in or under the pantyhose or toilet paper tubes. What about the part above the pantyhose. Couldn't they just cut off the stem higher up. I'm just asking because I'd really like a solution that will work this year.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 11:53PM
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MaryMcP Zone 8b - Phx AZ

toucan, My understanding was that the SVB enters at the soil level, if you can block that entry point, like with the tp roll or pantyhose piece buried a bit under the soil, the bug can't get in. That's the theory anyway. I'm going to try the radish idea this year. Also, I have raked out all the debris from under our lady banks hedge and will spray a liquid garlic pest preventive on the hedges near the garden beds. If you have any old leaves and plant debris around your garden area, rake it up and remove it before the bugs hatch. I really think this may be a big key factor. I've had a grasshopper and brown dog tick problem as well. It's A LOT of work raking out and disposing of all the leaf debris. I hope it's worth it.

I've spent about 9 hours on it now, over three weekends, and have only cleared maybe 60' of 200' feet needed. But the 60' is what's close to the gardens. The rest is to clear the tick problem because the dogs wander under the hedge to munch on Bermuda grass that pops up there.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 9:34AM
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So far, in four years of squash growing, I've only had one SVB. It was on a trombocino. Since I was letting it run all over a part-shade area, they had roots all over and just lost a branch here and there. The trombocino is a crazy, rampant squash with delicious squashes.
My Costata,spaghetti squash, kabocha and patty pan have never been
Effected. Now, if we want to talk squash bugs, that's another story. Although, with the squash bugs, once I knew what they were, I found that hitting the squash with DE ( diamectous earth) when I see the very first babies, which run in little armies, worked fabulously. I not ever seen more than one or two adults when treating them that way.
For ticks, I finally seem to have them well controlled, after dusting my entire yard last spring except the garden, with sulpher. It's considered organic but be very,very careful if applying it to anything in direct sun with warm temperatures. It will fry the leaves. I killed some roses that way when trying to kill spider mites. Btw, sulphur works incredibly well on spider mites but I think it would fry tomatoes and other sensitive plants with our spring and summer heat.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 9:52AM
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If you have had squash borers infest your squash previously, chances are his larvae is in the soil from last year. That larvae can find the roots, so covering the base will only block new moths looking to lay their annoying little babies, not the ones you already have. I have wrapped my stems with plastic wrap and foil, and it didn't help. I rip up plants when infested and throw them away-and STILL get them. I loathe those bugs, they kill my squash every year. Last year I grew a late crop in an earthbox, and it made up for all the loss. I had about a dozen summer squash without any freaking borers from that box-oddly mostly pollinated by fruit flies too! Woot! This year I am growing in both the garden and earthboxes. I have row covers for the boxes too. I just need to time the season these freaking moths from hell will be here. Most articles say late June-early July, but is that too general for all zones? I think I am 6b-7.
So this year (2014) my attack will be crop rotation (I always do-but brand new spot completely never had squash-only butternut) and row covers during the moth stage. I will also have a back up crop started in seed starters in case of infestation. They break me every year, but I always try and try again! -I also have bunnies, aphids, powdery mildew, slugs it's a constant battle here! Good luck to you all and quick death to them!

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 2:38PM
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So far, the toilet paper holder has worked. I have a Costata Romanesco in a large barrel, and for added protection, put mosquito netting over the plant. I want to take it off though now that the there are squash flowers. Do these SBV moths come out in day or night?

I could cover at night and uncover in the day if they are night creatures. I'm hoping I could get some squash for a change. Devastating when every year, the plants just get cut down.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 1:34AM
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Important question: Is it clear that squash vine borers attack from the soil and that they're not from eggs left on plants by their adults? That's what I understand but I've been turned around a complete 180 degrees on simple stuff before...

For "cut worm" things, plant collars are a crap shoot. That's both their limitation and their charm. Soil borne creepy crawlies that attack plants come up from the soil but they do not automatically do that right next to the plant stem. Those that do so, get to feast. Those that are too far away get a cardboard/plastic wall. The odds favor the cardboard wall builder.

One problem I see is that not one single (bush-type) plant rises majestically to the sky from one single point of soil contact. The whole shebang is all over the dirt, or real-thick-fluffy-dry mulch in my case. I'm hoping that said support mulch is enough to keep the leaf stems out of the way of the creepy crawlies. If not, cardboard collars would seem like a waste of time.

Regular succession plantings, as mentioned, are a good way to go too. Might try DE prophylaxis until the monsoons hit.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 2:12AM
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Here's some info:


"Beginning in late June or early July, squash vine borer adults emerge from cocoons in the ground. " Part one of the control ... let birds have access to the OLD squash growing spots so they can dig out the cocoons.

Soon after emerging, squash vine borers lay eggs singly at the base of susceptible plants. Part two of control ... guard the base of the plants so the borers can't lay eggs there. That's why panty hose or aluminum foil works.

http://www.centexcooks.com/squash-borers/ reportedly putting water out in YELLOW containers attracts the borers and they drown.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 8:09AM
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iandyaz(Zone 9B - QC)

I've never had a SVB attack that I know of, but I've had Squash bugs decimate my plants. I don't know if what I do now keeps them off, but I haven't had any real squash bug problems since the first year. I always start the plants under row covers until the first female flowers start up, then I take them away. It seems to keep everything off the plants for the remainder of their lives, so far. *knocks on wood*

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 8:47PM
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Thanks for the info. I got the flowers so hopefully out of the woods. I will put a layer of aluminum foil around the plant and see if that helps. I guess we're not even at SBV season yet.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 10:52PM
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I don't think I've ever had SVB but I did have horrible problems with squash bugs last year. I interplanted my squash garden with catnip, nasturtium and radishes. Its too soon to tell but I'm hopeful that will deter them. I tried planting jicama (for squash bug deterrent but it didn't come up. I planted my squash in February and its healthy and producing. Knock on wood I can keep the little buggers at bay this year.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 2:52PM
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