plants dying early

"when squash was full grown and veggies coming on, the plant seemed to die over night. what is the cause, how to stop it? I planted squash in another area of the garden even later in the year, same thing. we have strewn straw around the plants, they dont touch the dirt. Also okra was planted late, it wanted to die off too. It seemed to get a lite mold on it.. Cantalope was growing good, 20 nice melons, and vine died pretty much over nite...diseased stem at the root site? r stink bugs bad?"
Submitted by BHGPhotoContest

Hi

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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