plants dying early
When a squash dies like that, it's likely due to Squash Vine Borer damage. These pests are a moth that lay their eggs on the vine and their larvae hatch and tunnel into the stems and kill the vines, often overnight. They are very hard to control, once they are used to a garden where squash grow, they often come back year after year. In my own garden, I stopped growing squash for three years and just got a nice crop this year.
Anyway, there are some things you can do. First, dust or spray your plants with a product like Ortho's Bug B Gone during the egg laying period. This time varies each year, but once your vines start to spread or run, that's the time to start protecting your crops every 7 to 10 days. Another technique is to root new sections of your squash as it grows across the ground. This way if a borer gets in one section you may still have other sections you can save. To root, simply pin a section of vine to the soil and cover it with soil so it develops another set of roots. And finally, you can grow your crops under row covers which will prevent the moths from landing on the plants. You can buy row covers online from Gardener's Supply, www.gardeners.com.
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