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pumpkins & borers

Palatine, IL(Zone 5a)

Does anyone know of a organic way to keep squash vine borers off of pumpkins? Last year we had a horrible time with them, so we have planted in a new site. I tried several web sites and got no real info to help. One site's sure-fire remidy to avoid borers was to: not plant pumpkins. Let me know if you've tried something that works that actually includes the pumpkin. Thanks.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

I gave up after 3 years of not being able to grow yellow crooknecks, zucchini or even gourds which all succumbed to borers. New planting site didn't help and I was never able to get the borers out of the stems before they did their damage.

Good luck. I will "watch" this page in case someone has a good answer!

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

Howdy roseofkaren.
Them pesky bugs! Yuck!

Bt, sprayed regularly, will help kill the borers. Other more intensive sprays are usually sprayed to zap the adults (moths). (No matter how much of a promise I make to myself I just can't stay on a regular spraying routine though!)

What I would do is use row covers and cover your plants (unless you are growing acres of them). The row covers will keep the adult moths from laying their eggs on the plants. However, the pumpkins will need pollination from insects in order to set fruit so you'll have to remove the row covers for this to happen.

The plants should be perfectly safe from vine borers until you see wild chickory start to bloom. At that point the moth will take wing and start searching for a place to lay eggs (on your pumpkins!). Once you see the chickory flowers, cover your plants for a couple weeks while the moths are active.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Hey, Shoe... why didn't you ever tell ME that? LOL, I maybe could have grown squash after all!

Palatine, IL(Zone 5a)

Shoe-Awesome. We've tried row covers --actually just placing lengths of cheese cloths over plants, but here by the windy city they blew off eventually, and the plants are starting to get female flowers, so I've left it off for the last few days. Now, I'm off in search of wild chickory--no notes on DG so I will Google it. Thank you!

Palatine, IL(Zone 5a)

Oh no! I've been looking at wild chickory my entire life and never knew that was its name. Just the other day I was admiring the pretty blooms along side the road. Yes, I said Blooms, which means now I am going to go do a thorough search of pumpkin plants. I am curious--do the borers & moths like chickory also, or do you just use that as an indicator as to the proper conditions ?

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

darius...reckon you'll have to remember this for when you get your next garden area. Oh well... I can supply the row cover to help make it up to ya~!, the moths/borers don't care for chicory. This is only a signal time, similar to "when the oak leaves are big as squirrel ears, plant corn". Nowadays more scientific methods have come about along these lines. Commonly termed "phenology" it lets you know the "what's goin' on at this time in MaNature's world". So, answer your question, that is what is used to determine conditions.

Hawesville, KY(Zone 6a)

Sure am glad I found this thread .
Thanks so much I'll try it again wasn't ever going to grow any squash,melons or anything like that but this sure helps.
I did discover one variety it is called a bottleneck gourd it is edible and has a slight smell to it like Ladybugs.You slice it and fry just like other squash or zuch.

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

Well...wish I could keep after the dang squash bugs myself (Have very few borer problems.) Squash bugs ruined my few Giant Pumpkin plants (well, the heavy rains also contributed...made the pumps split).

Barb, I've heard of bottleneck gourd; wasn't aware it was edible. Do you have an online source for it?

Hawesville, KY(Zone 6a)

Dear Horseshoe:
Baker Creek Heirloom seeds is the sight
I have had great experiences with their seed almost everything germinated.
I can not share any of my seed or I would as I planted everything to close together and there is no telling what you would get.

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

Yep, I deal w/them too. (And just renewed my subscription to their magazine, "The Heirloom Gardener". Hope you get that, too. Good deal on it right now!)

I may already have some seed in my larder; just wasn't aware that type gourd was edible. Thanks for the info!

Cape Cod, MA(Zone 7a)

It seems I have tried everything to keep the borers away, nothing has worked except planting Waltham butternut squash, for some reason (the stems are hard) it seems to be resistant. I want to try the chickory timing now! Thanks!
Rose of Karen you can pin the rowcovers down with sod staples or make your own staples with wire hangers so they won't blow off.

Winchester, VA(Zone 6b)

row covers worked this year for the squash and I actually got pumpkins by planting a lot of
seeds. Seemed like a waste of seed but the borers were overwhelmed I guess and could not hit everything.

Squash bugs are easily controlled by inspecting the leaves every few days and removing the egg clusters they plant underneath the leaves - they look like jewels. I tear out the section of leaf and burn the eggs masses.

off to find out what wild chicory looks like.

Croton-on-Hudson, NY(Zone 6b)

I am still looking for an organic method for preventing squash borers from killing my pumpkins as it is hard to keep them out, especially with organic methods, but don't give up if they do get into your plants. Here is one solution that has worked for me once the borers are in the pumpkins:

Mystic, CT(Zone 6b)

Using cut up nylons or tin foil at the base of your stems will help prevent them from laying eggs or getting into the stems. Wrap the stems right from the ground on up, two inches at least, or maybe to the first set of leaves. Some people bury the stems in dirt, but this is not foolproof.

Also, a spray of soapy water every day on the stems is supposed to kill the eggs. Can it really be that easy?

Planting radishes, tansy, catnip, mint or nasturtiums around your cukes and squash is said to repel cuke beetles and squash bugs. Leave the radishes in, and let them go to seed.

Early or late planting is also supposed to help.

Shenandoah Valley, VA(Zone 6b)

Well, I've tried all the above, as the general organic recommendations go, and it hasn't worked. Not to be a wet blanket.

The only pumpkin I had that escaped damage was one undersown with clover.

Croton-on-Hudson, NY(Zone 6b)

Zeppy - I too have tried without success, all of the above except for the radishes etc and no luck either. I even wrapped some mature pumpkin seedlings elaborately in stockings, as seen in the photos below, and planted them later than usual. No difference between the ones with or without stockings. The borers still got in. However, I am having success with the method I described in my last post and now have many pumpkins on my vines. The only question now is if they will mature in our region before it gets too cold.

I have also been feeding with worm compost tea and the current vines are quite healthy so I have my fingers crossed that the weather will cooperate. The borers seem to come in the early part of July so next year I will try to keep some seedlings in large pots until mid July.

Thumbnail by mygardens
Shenandoah Valley, VA(Zone 6b)

Thanks! I have done this as well, but when more than one borer is in the stem, the poor plant is hard put to regroup. One thing that has hurt me with this particular method is my extensive and deep mulching: it's harder to bury the stem for re-rooting. Perhaps I won't mulch my borer-vulnerable plants next year. I'll certainly undersow with clover.

My sister's garden, ten miles away, is in a cleared area, surrounded by woods. She has no problem whatsoever with the borer. I'm in an agricultural village, where there are nearby fields of pumpkins, and several large gardens. I figure this is just how it's going to be, but I'll continue to fight as best I can.

Croton-on-Hudson, NY(Zone 6b)

I have that mulch problem too. What do you use for mulch? I pull away the mulch from the places where I plant the pumpkins and then have very deep wood chips outside the holes. I actually did have a problem burying the vine segment, but I dug away the chips under those part of the plant that I wanted to bury and filled the holes with dirt so the roots could grow. I only have about 6 vines left so it was not that much of a problem. I wonder what people do if they have more plants. I can only think that they can't do it organically.

Shenandoah Valley, VA(Zone 6b)

Even conventional control methods have some trouble with the borer. It's a real survivor; I have to admire those moths. They hover over my row covers in a very hopeful sort of way. :)

I use straw mulch over paper, as I have a real problem with quackgrass establishing itself in the beds.

Croton-on-Hudson, NY(Zone 6b)

I am still fighting the borer problem. I have tried everything from dormant oil on the eggs to yellow dishes with water to attract the moths. Maybe these work if you can do it often enough and at he right time, but I still seem to get borers. I do always manage to get from 5 - 8 good pumpkins a year, but that is not great for the amount of work and number of vines I have. With this long growing season this year, more may mature. Removing the borers as shown at, and rooting healthy sections, is time-consuming, but will save some of the pumpkins.

This message was edited Oct 14, 2007 11:24 AM

Thumbnail by mygardens
Dripping Springs, TX(Zone 8b)

nothing works.I have given up. I do want to try a large purple martin house near my garden .

Venice, CA(Zone 10a)

Hey Guys; You might want to check out
Click on Heirloom List, scroll down to African Winter Squash... I have their entire bean collection.This is a great company,high germination, and true to type.Also their Greasy Cutshort beans are Fabulous!-

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

The African Winter Squash looks promising. I have also found that a mixture of nasturtiums, row covers until the plants are too large, and silver mulch enabled me to harvest some zucchini finally, last summer. The plants succumbed eventually but not before I was able to get a few weeks of squash. I had been using Trombocino Zucchetta Rampicante, which is a long vining plant with a slender but solid stem which the borers didn't seem to like, and that worked for awhile, but then the squash bugs got them. None of the other tricks - digging out the larvae, using tinfoil, etc. - seemed to work for me.

Mobile, AL(Zone 8b)

I finally figured out the SVB was the reason I couldn't grow a squash to save my life. So, I've been doing a little research and this link has some useful information. Now we'll have to see how commited I am to wiping off eggs and spraying!

Nashville, IN(Zone 5b)

All of the mochschata type of squash are immune to boreres. Long Isalnd Cheese, Butternut, Futsu, Seminole, Texas Native, just look for the mochschata species. We have grown some pumpkin like mochschatas that are around 20#, but have that great butternut flesh. Excellent for carving, too. The aren't orange, but a light tan or beige. There is a great one called Fairytale that is a flattened, ribbed pumpkin like squash that has bronze overtones to the skin, and nice thick flesh. I have grown the mochschatas right next to the maximas and pepos (buttercups and pumpkins) and watched as the latter two withered to borer damage. I have always had a full crop of mochschatas, and now I just grow zukes and summer squash under rowcover after June. I can get acorn squash if I put them out in early may under plastic. They come ripe just as the borer emerges and starts to lay eggs. I grow Gill's Golden Pippin, a two or one big serving size acorn that is ready in 65 days.

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