I grow kabochas yearly. I've had two nemeses:
1. powdery mildew that sets in in July and pretty much kills the plants,
2. squirrel(s) that attack the fruit. It/they can decimate the crop,
destroying a squash-a-day when they get into it, unless the squash are
hung high and inaccessible (I try to do this by trellising).
I have had some success controlling the mildew by spraying with a
solution of baking soda but eventually the mildew wins out and the
leaves become hard and brittle and I assume close to useless in
photosynthesis. I've continued to water the plants daily, in any case,
in the theory that the squashes will ripen better. I have many squash
lieing on the ground, and a squirrel has attacked two of them in the
last week or so. I've set out a trap (no success yet this year), plan to
take the trapped critter ~6 miles into the hills (a park) and release
it. Not sure it won't make its way back, I've heard stories that this is
possible. For all I know, the squirrel that's eating my squash this year
is the one I released in the park last year...
Well, one question I have is this: Since the plants, for the most part,
seem unable or unwilling to produce new growth, at what point can I
remove the kabochas from the vines? I understand that they will ripen
more (I harvested the bulk of my crop on August 15 last year because a
squirrel was attaching them, and although they looked great, a great
many of them were not nearly mature and were a disappointment... not
deep orange inside and not very sweet).
Is it being on the vine (even a seemingly almost dead vine) that matures
them or is it just sitting around, perhaps being in the warm sun? When
can I pick them, and if I do pick them before I'd like to (i.e. mid to
late October, it does not freeze here), should I leave them outside in
the sun (I have a patio table I could leave them on that a squirrel
Thanks for any help here!
Email: dmusicant at sonic dot net
It's being on the vine that gives them sweetness, though it is possible
for them to 'ripen' (in terms of color) a bit once they are off the vine.
I've picked butternuts that still show a bit of green and they will
Are there any signs of life to the vines? I know my squash vines tend
to senesce when they set a few fruit, but late in the season will push out
some new growth (even a few more doomed flowers). Then it might
be best to try to keep them on the vines, until the vines are completely
dry and dead.
Could you rig up some protection for the fruit (say, surround them with a
cage of chicken wire)?
That's the ideal practice even for fully vine-ripened winter squash.
They should be stored for a while in a bright, warm place to 'cure'
before being put in a cool dark place for long-term storage.
Research done in Brazil, Australia, California and throughout North
America since the late '90s demonstrates that a 10% solution of "skim"
milk or dairy whey in water, aided by sunlight, controls and sometimes
eliminates powdery mildew on a wide range of garden plants. Low fat
powdered milk mixed at 15 g (nominally 1/2 oz) per liter (nominally 1 US
qt) of water also works. I can attest (anecdotally) that milk spray is
more effective than copper or neem oil and at least as effective as
sulfur -- and is far less likely to harm plants that any of those.
I'm in Florida where powdery mildew becomes a potentially serious
problem anytime after late April, depending on the onset of "summer"
rains. I have found -- again, anecdotally -- that "whole" milk seems to
interfere with pollination of some garden plants so, if you try it, be
sure to stick with low fat or no fat milk or liquid whey.
Cats are the perfect "tree rat" controllers. It can be difficult,
though, to find the tiny boots, whips and chairs they need. Cats do not
make the mistake of relocating the vermin; they just kill them outright
and sometimes even eat them. Warning: You must acquire the cats at very
young ages in order to teach them to discriminate among squirrels,
rabbits and birds as prey and you must also be willing to eliminate
those cats that cannot learn the distinction.
My "neighborhood" is still somewhat rural and am far more likely to
lose produce to raccoons (they pick young peppers) and to birds
(tomatoes and green beans) than to squirrels or to rabbits.
i think we could avoid a lot of bunny
damage here if i could convince Ma to mow
the little bit of lawn we have left at a
higher level so that more clover and
plantains would be left for them to graze.
squirrels not a common problem. though we
did have one the other day getting a drink
from the pond (which to me is really just
a water feature and not really an actual
live pond). as i don't want them around i
used the air-rifle to nudge it along back to
the tree line.
bird damage this year that i've noticed
has been on the strawberries, and i've got
enough that i don't mind sharing. they
eat plenty of other bugs so i'm ok if they
get something else to eat once in a while
too. they need a balanced diet as much as
i've not ever seen damage to the beans or
tomatoes from birds. at least not that i
can ever recognize. if they are eating
whole flowers off a plant (going after bugs?)
i wouldn't know as there are too many to
keep track of.
do you notice a particular type of bird
that is getting the beans?
i'd start with 20 times water to 1 part 5%
vinegar and test it on a few leaves and see
if it helps. if no help make it 18 to 1 and
wait. keep trying until either the leaves
complain or you see beneficial effect. if no
beneficial effect then it would be good to
know. as i think vinegar is much cheaper
than powdered milk.
we have no mildew here on squashes but on
other plants and i never bother to spray
thinking that nature can sort itself out
much faster than i would be able to. if it
somehow took off and affected all the important
plants i'd have to rethink gardening completely.
as it is, the past week i've noticed a new
bug on the one cabbage which turned out to not
be a cabbage plant. i've plucked leaves off
hoping to keep it from spreading to anything
else. since the plant is not what we want and
if the problem persists i may just get rid of
the whole plant. no need to start a trouble
source. no idea yet what the bug is other than
it looks like grey aphids. i just smush 'em
all and then put the leaves in the bucket for
them to bake in the sun.
hmm, not too many bluejays around here (west
nile virus has taken a large toll on their
population, but also since we do not feed
birds they only come about when we have
sunflowers ripening, so we should see them
starting in a few weeks). we do have
the titmice and chickadees. don't see them
in the beans often, i see them more along
the wooded northern border where we have
the fruit bearing bushes (wild fruit of
some kind including the honeysuckle which
i would not encourage anyone to plant if
they were worried about invasive spreading).
The only way to avoid a lot(all) of rabbit damage is to exclude them.
The more rabbit food you have, the more rabbits you will attract.
In numbers, you can't count on clover and plantains to draw them away from your
desirable plants and vegatables or to satisfy them.
The other way to avoid 'some' rabbit damage is to have a predator balance.
Randy, a neighbour's cat was a specialist hunter that kept the rabbits and
chipmunks under control. -- Since he left the neighbourhood, the rabbit and
chipmunk population has grown to nuisance levels with generation piling upon
For the rabbits, I will build an exclusion barrier with trap refinements right
around our near quarter acre this month because I no longer want the issue this
season and it should be in place for next.
I've yet to decide what to do about the chipmunks.
we have fenced the area where we grow most of
the veggies. the areas i'm writing about are
those outside the fenced gardens. where i plant
all sorts of things and see what happens and
try different things.
within some limit as there are only so many
rabbits around. the hawks and feral cats eat
some. if i see too many at one time i'll
break out the air-rifle (i hate to do it) and
even if i can decoy them a little bit then that
takes the pressure off certain plantings. it's not
a all or nothing situation and never has been when
it comes to these outside gardens. most of what i
plant are dry beans or extra strawberry plants, some
beets, turnips, onions, green and wax beans, edamame
soybeans, squash, cucumbers, melons...
they have tons of alfalfa and birdsfoot trefoil
available, along with some other spots of red clover
and white clover.
what i am hoping to do is to continue increasing
the desireable plants in the green manure patch to
encourage them to stay back there. perhaps also
would help to trim back different areas more often
so that there is tender new growth to tempt them...
feral cats and hawks do ok. with more open area
they would likely do a bit better, but i'm not quite
up to clearing the northern edge which has become
heh. little buggers are cute and active. most
the garden damage in the fenced garden is from these
as we did not put down a fine enough mesh to exclude
them. if i ever redo or put in new fencing it will
include the finer mesh and i'll probably look into
a solar electric fence charger/capacitor setup to
include at the top of the fine mesh to really keep
i don't mind sharing, but they do a lot of damage
that seems frivolous (pick fruits and drop them, pick
another one and drop that one too, etc.). and i don't
want to keep cats.
as it is i do encourage snakes by keeping nice
warm rock piles for them and other habitat and i do
know the snakes take a few here or there, but it
never seems to be that they get the one that is doing
the most damage...
once in a while the air rifle discourages them
too, but i have better things to do that to hunt
the half dozen chipmunks running around. i'd never
get anything else done. like bunnies and raccoons
there's always plenty more around to come along
once the offenders are removed.
That's where you are wrong. The number of rabbits is potentially unlimited.
The numbers can only be kept in check by death and in practice that's how it
happens. Death by lack of food, disease or predators. Lacking these
exclude them so that these problems remain outside your domain.
A complete waste of time, once the numbers reach the limit of the 'nice'
food they will spread out from there looking for more and keep increasing
until they are limited in some way. Get a kelpie.
well then death by automobile, cat, hawk and
me is doing most of the job at present. it is
rare for me to see more than three. that is
when i know i need to get the air-rifle out,
when i see three or more.
what is so strange is that they do not learn.
i.e. they could eat all they want if they stay
out in the green manure patch and i wouldn't
care one bit.
the nice food is also where they can get
eaten more frequently by feral cats and
uhg, no way. i'll be trapping them for food
long before i ever have a dog.
Which is exactly what's happening around here. -- Where the environment is
city, no predators to speak of and I'm surrounded by city people who think
Fun figures http://www.bio.miami.edu/hare/scary.html
didn't they introduce falcons in NYC and other
larger cities to help deal with pigeons? perhaps
introducing falcons/hawks would help with the
bunnies and squirrels? encouraging the population
by increasing available nesting sites and making
the public more aware of the benefits (and a
reminder to keep fluffy inside).
you must be living in an area that has feral
cats under control.
s-s-something is eating a lot of wabbit!
if you want to see a bit of really interesting
video from the Dust Bowl era check out Ken Burns
_The Dust Bowl_ and find the part they show the
out of control rabbit population (in an area
stricken by drought you'd never think they could
get so many but that is what happens when all the
predators are killed off).
London Ontario Canada pop. 300,000 and change.
There are areas of the city that have feral cats. -- London has a trap, neuter
release program to keep the numbers down.
Our small cul de sac neighourhood doesn't have any, whilst an area along the
river, 4 blocks away has a transient population of ferals.
It may be a matter of us having 2 main traffic arteries nearby. -- Any outdoor
cat that's roams around here seems to have a max. lifespan of about 3 years.
Except for the Cooper's hawk that hunts meat on the wing at our neighbour's
bird feeders, the hawks are usually seen hunting in the parks.
Can we infer that your neighbor essentially is baiting up hawk
prey? What a novel feeding program! A breeding pair of red tailed hawks
has nested in the back third of our "lot" for several years. The birds
visit a watering station that we maintain back there and have been
around long enough to be "familiars" and, although, they occasionally
exact their due from the local blue jay population, I certainly wish
they'd do more ;-) Perhaps I should install a strategically located
I have seen attempts to encourage raptors in order to reduce rabbits. At a
community garden on an island that was mostly bush they put up (at some
trouble and expense) a roosting pole, that is a telegraph pole with a cross
bar at the top but no wires. There are plenty of kites and hawks in the
region but they were not interested in the pole. YMMV
Oh, I wasn't at all serious. A number of non-migrating bird
species routinely share the cats' outside food and water and we a wide
variety of native berries throughout much of the year. Of the birds,
the only ones that could remotely be considered detrimental to the
garden are the jays and the variety of food sources doesn't keep them
from the tomatoes or the muscadines. I wouldn't anticipate any benefit
from providing them yet another food source. Those hawks, though, exist
in an entirely different plane and I doubt if they'd take what I'd
consider a meaningful number of birds or rabbits regardless of my
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