Getting Squash to Harvest

Dear Bay Gardener:

We’ve always had success with great big zucchini/ squash plants. One day they’re beautiful; the next they are flat on the ground. I understand this is due to some sort of beetle that eats the stems. We’ve been using Sevin pesticide on our garden, but it doesn’t stop them, so it seems.

–Peter Brooks, Chesapeake Beach

A:    With regards to your zucchini squash, stem borers are a big problem. One method I use is to spread a liberal amount of wood ashes around the plant just before they begin to sprawl on the ground. I also spray the stems and vines weekly with Sevin, making certain that the spray is directed inside the plant and not on the foliage Spraying the foliage has no effect on the stem borer because it is attacking the stems and not the leaves.

It is also important not to let the zucchini dry out. I irrigate my squash patch every second or third day depending on the amount of rain we receive. I try to give each plant four to five gallons at each watering.