pumpkin musings

I rounduped a stretch of our lawn along the edge this past spring when my wife said I could use it for a garden. I ended up planting short sections of purple morning glory, purple okra, bush cucumbers, and 3 hills of pumpkins.
This is the first time in 22 or 23 years that I've grown pumpkins. I was able, for the most part, to train the vines to grow lengthwise along the fence. The push mower takes care of the smaller side vines when they stray. The entire area filled up nice by August 1, and we had about a dozen pumpkins on the way.
Then disaster struck - powdery mildew! I've been treating it with fungicide, and I believe I mostly have that under control now. Unfortunately, it took a lot of healthy leaves with it before my sprayings got it under control, and it appears to have weakened the plants.
Horror of horrors, another disaster soon followed - squash vine borers! I noticed small piles of frass coming out of tiny holes in the main stems of most of the pumpkin vines. The increased stress of this attack, added to the weakening from the powdery mildew attack caused the pumpkin to abort a number of healthy looking pumpkins, some of which were already 8" across. Now I'm down to 5 of the larger pumpkins, though there are a few new young ones that seem to be growing.
I got out there with a wire and some seven insecticide concentrate, shoved the wires in there where I thought the vine borer larvae were, and then poured tiny bits of sevin into the holes. I'm not sure how that will turn out, but at least I've tried. In the past, when I had squash vine borer problems, I typically lost the plants completely. I think I may be helped this time around, because I have a soaker hose that I ran along the plants before they vined out. I can slowly let the drops ooze out, which of course gets the soil under all of the vines soaked. Since I just grew these on top of the sod, there isn't as much between the vines and the soil as there typically would if I had used straw. I believe that these plants may have roots coming down from many of the places where the leaves are.
The main question I'm left with is this: where are the BT (bacillus thuringensis) vine crops that we were promised about 6 years ago? I recall hearing news reports that they were very close to incorporating the BT into squash and pumpkins, and when they did the squash vine borer would no longer be a threat. I've looked for any vine crops advertising this every year since I first read it, but haven't come across any advertised as vine borer resistant.
http://www.bt.ucsd.edu/bt_crop.html
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As your cite reports:
Potential risks to using Bt:
Invasiveness Genetic modifications, through traditional breeding or by genetic engineering can potentially change the organism to become invasive. Few introduced organisms become invasive, yet its a concern for the users.
Resistance to Bt - The biggest potential risk to using Bt-crops is resistance. Farmers have taken many steps to help prevent resistance. (I'd like to know how.)
Cross-contamination of genes - Although unproven, genes from GM crops can potentially introduce the new genes to native species. ------
You may want to try some "integrated pest management" (IPM).
* Encourage birds and bats by setting out houses built to appropriate specifications. (They eat insects.)
* Allow some dead trees to remain standing (a distance from buildings), as they make good homes for animals. A brush pile constructed from prunings gives cover for small animals.
* Consider including a pond and birdbaths in your landscaping to provide water for small animals. Once balanced, a pond requires virtually no maintenance.
* Create a "puddle" for butterflies by filling a bucket with damp sand and sinking it into the ground. Rocks and twigs will allow butterflies to perch as they drink.
* Plant herbs and wildflowers that attract "beneficial insects." Some examples are fennel, dill, angelica, parsley, lovage, thyme, Queen Anne's lace, sunflower, black-eyed Susan, daisies, goldenrod, yarrow, milkweed, butterfly weed, tansy, clover, and cosmos. -----
As for the mildew, try to keep the squash leaves dry, but in my experience, mildew always arrives at the end of the season. Unfortunately, some seasons are long, and some seasons are short.
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This page has some suggestion for barrier control etc. I've cut the grubs and killed them myself and that worked OK if I was quick enough. Never tried injecting BT as suggested
http://gardening.yardener.com/SolutionsforSquashVineBorer.html
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Pretty funny. You used Round-up, and now you want to know what's wrong with your crop? ;O))
Glad I won't be eating it. <http://www.i-sis.org.uk/glyphosatePoisonsCrops.php Scientists Reveal Glyphosate Poisons Crops and Soil
GMOs would nicely compliment your choice of food. Bon appetite.

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> Pretty funny. You used Round-up, and now you want to know what's wrong > with your crop? ;O)) > Glad I won't be eating it.
Where did I ask what was wrong with my crop? (It certainly had nothing to do with the roundup, because the plants were very vigorous and doing better than I've ever seen until the powdery mildew and squash vine borers set in.) I think I was pretty clear about stating exactly what the problems were, along with my specific attempts to solve each issue. If anything, I probably encouraged the powdery mildew issue by watering the plants too often, due to the drought.
Besides, pumpkins are ornamentals as far as I'm concerned. We use them for Jack O' Lanterns in the fall, nothing more. We won't be eating them, either. Good point though - I suppose I should just treat them like ornamentals that typically get killed by pests, and use a systemic insecticide on them to assure that my kids get pumpkins to carve in the fall.
Hmm, although Billy didn't suggest it directly, I guess he convinced me to use more pesticides in the future and be proactive instead of reactive - thanks!
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