August 12: The last three days the heat has finally mitigated and we are enjoying moderate days and cool nights. It is good we have this to appreciate, because the news on the squash front is not good. We have researched flame throwers – weed torches, they are called – and the ones with enough BTU’s to be effective are a bit out of our price range. Sixty or seventy dollars seems to be a minimum for a well-built wand to attatch to your propane tank, and we haven’t budgeted for that. Then yesterday S-5 concocted a really blistering hot-pepper spray and we tried it out on some squash bugs. The spray was so hot that any part of our skin which got misted with it burned for over an hour. So we put a squash leaf with about ten bugs on it in a coffee can and saturated them with the pepper/dish soap mix, and waited to see what happened.
Although we returned three times over the course of the day, and saturated the bugs each time with more pepper spray, we could not tell that anything at all had happened to the bugs. It was a sad failure. We suppose that if organic bug spray was as easy to accomplish as running hot peppers and dish soap through the blender, everyone would do it. As it is, even the pricey organic pyrethrum/canola oil spray we buy for mites in the apple trees and flox bugs in the flowers doesn’t do a thing to squash bugs, even though it is supposed to. Squash bugs make DDT look like a gardener’s best friend.
So we are going to rip out the squash, burn the vines, rake the mulch and burn it, and plant a green manure on the squash patch, to be tilled in in the fall. Healthy plants are supposed to be immune to bug problems, or so we have read, but these squash started out so healthy and big they should have scared the most intrepid squash bug or borer into immediate retreat. Instead, the vines are riddled with the brown, oozy holes left by squash borer grubs, and the leaves, vines, and fruit are covered with bugs like the village square on a slow Saturday night. Whatever the theory, our experience is that grubs and beetles will destroy even the most vigorous plants once they get going.
On the right side of the ledger, the guys got the black ram cut and in the freezer. They have put stud walls, rafters, and roofing on the west end of the loft, and have milled wood for the joists in the feed room floor. We helped a neighbor with some child care, canned nine quarts of fresh tomato sauce – okay, nine quarts isn’t much, but it used up the tomatoes we needed to use –and had a baking day, resulting in seven two-pound whole wheat-loaves, six dozen whole-wheat buns, and an ample and delicious pizza dinner. We froze the first of the corn – about twelve pounds – and had corn for dinner. And the weather has continued to be pleasant and on the cool side. Best of all, if it comes true, the weather man has promised us rain this weekend, and we will not let our doubt of his ability to predict the future interfere with our sanguine hope that this weekend the pasture will get watered.
Yours sleepily, the squaw of many moons.