NATURE’S TURN: Peak summer flowers, fruits and foes
August 12 – 25, 2019
Mount Washington — A giant sunflower lifts its exquisite head to the rising Sun. Bathed in sunlight, the great flower glows from its swirling, shiny green center out to its mane of oversized golden petals. The flower disarms all who approach the garden gate.
Waking to a new day, cucumber blossoms stud the trellis with a burst of yellow stars, all the brighter in the company of climbing, deep purple Grandpa Ott morning glories; pink and rouge Magnolia sugar snap blooms; and a random, fleeting Breadbox Poppy.
Melons and summer and winter squashes trumpet their yellow- to orange-hued blossoms and set fruit. Their leaves form a floating green carpet. The garden is a riot of expanding growth into which, suddenly but not unforeseen, the squash vine borer (Melittia cucurbitae) has injected its deadly presence. One day last week, I spotted a wilted winter squash vine and ripped it out because it was hopelessly withered by the time I found it. Yesterday I offered to help my neighbor, who had a partly wilted summer squash plant. Symptoms of the presence of the borer were unmistakable. Please refer to the photograph of the stem that I cut open to extract and kill the larvae. In an attempt to save the plant, I sutured the stem with twist ties, covered it with earth and watered the plant thoroughly. It might survive.
I have learned that other cucurbitae — i.e. melons, cucumbers and butternut squash — are not usually attacked by the borer, and that this pest is expected to be active in June and July. For a thorough exposition of the topic, go to the University of Minnesota Extension website.*
In my July 15 column, I reviewed the impending appearance of the imported cabbageworm. Soon after, I found telltale holes, disappeared leaf margins and the camouflaged velvety green worms on most of my kale and romanesca broccoli plants. They were easy to pick off and kill. There was a hiatus. Last week, the cabbage white butterflies re-appeared. I am vigilant, checking the plants often for worms.
Please refer to that July 15 column** to be reminded of and ready for the possible arrival of very challenging cross-striped cabbage worms.
Indian Line Farm sunflower seedlings purchased at the Great Barrington Farmers Market
Turtle Tree Seeds organic-biodynamic Delicious 51 PMR Melon
Opportunities to participate
Garden Conservancy Open Days