Real Food Mama

Musings about cooking, eating and everything in between.

Squash Vine Borers – AAAAK! July 30, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — realfoodmama @ 1:17 pm

Once again our squash plants have been attacked by a nasty bug called a squash vine borer.

This bug is particularly nasty because the larvae eat the center of the plant, causing it to collapse on itself and shrivel up and die a horrible death.

Last year the same thing happened to our squash but I blamed it, erroneously it now seems, on ants. Instead the culprit is a moth type creature that looks vaguely like a red and black wasp. The female lays the eggs at the base of the squash plants – and by base I mean exactly where the thing hits the ground. The eggs hatch and become grubs that eat through the outside of the vine and burrow in the hollow section, eating the plant from the inside out. I have been checking the vines for eggs, but apparently didn’t know what to look for as we now have full grown grubs.

I am terribly sad at the moment. Last year our entire squash crop was lost, with the exception of a few zucchini plants. I refuse to go through that again!

There are several things I can try in order to eradicate the grubs. First, I can try cutting into the vine of the plant and removing them, then covering the injured part of the plant with dirt, encouraging it to heal. I have tried that with no success. Sure, I cut into the vine easily enough but did I find any grubs? I sure didn’t!

Secondly, I can try injecting the plants with something called BtK. BtK is basically a bacterial pesticide. Totally harmless to plants and people, it kill caterpillars and grubs. I am hoping that if I inject a liquid for into the plant, the grubs will get sick and die, saving the squash vine from being further devoured. I am not sure if this will work, but it is worth a shot. Our squash plants are beautiful, big and bountiful so far this year. I refuse to let them go down without a fight.

The real kicker to all of this is, of course, that the eggs and larvae can overwinter in the soil. It basically means that any dead squash plants must be burned and that at the end of the season we can’t just leave the vines to compost back into the earth – we will have to actually remove them from the property.

I was told that even though we are practicing crop rotation that unless there is a distance of at least a hundred yards between each location, they might as well be right next to each other.


I will be sure to update the blog as I try this experiment. I would post some pictures but I fed the grubs to the chickens and it is now pouring rain. I will have to get some when I inject the BtK later today.

Wish me luck and think good thoughts for my squash!


More Goat Trauma July 27, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — realfoodmama @ 12:01 pm

So while I was working on some fence repairs my crazy goat Eek suffered a pretty disgusting and (hopefully) relatively minor injury.

She got her eyelid stuck on the fence and currently looks like she was in a boxing match.

This part of animal husbandry is the part I hate. The injuries are par for the course but the problem I have is that I am a complete wimp when it comes to taking care of them. I don’t want my animals to suffer, but I am incapable of holding an injured animal down to clean a wound or give it a shot or any of the other things that must be done for the good of the animal.

Luckily for me there is a very good goat vet in the Santa Fe area and she is going to come out tomorrow to look the girl over, clean her up and possible stitch up her eyelid if necessary (gross, sorry).

Unfortunately I still have to milk the poor girl this evening and I am frankly not convinced that I will be able to. She has to get up on the stand and I usually have to fight with her…all she is doing right now is hiding in the barn trying to keep her eye (actually the whole side of her face) turned towards the wall.

Ugh, I hate goat trauma!


So long Senor Pepe! July 23, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — realfoodmama @ 11:52 am

Well, sadly the time has come when our neighbors have officially complained about the antics of our single rooster and he is currently en route to a lovely animal sanctuary in Glorieta, NM to live out life with a harem of 31 hens and 300 acres and, hopefully, no neighbors!

We were really hoping to be able to keep him for the long haul, but he just proved too noisy. Aside from all his crowing, however, he was an incredibly good rooster. Nice to the hens, easy to handle, and generally very mellow.

So long Pepe! Enjoy the rest of your rooster life!


Our First Egg! July 16, 2010

Filed under: Animal Husbandry,Garden Fresh — realfoodmama @ 3:06 pm
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One of our hens laid our very first egg this afternoon! We are very excited about it here at the urban farm and my little man has decided the egg is his and needs to live in his bedroom. Clearly that can’t go on much longer, but it is nice to see that he is as excited as his mommy about what is, ultimately, a rather mundane event.

Our hens are only four months old so the advent of one egg is very possibly the most we will get this week. It is adorably tiny and perfectly shaped, but won’t actually feed any of us. Regardless, it marks a new chapter here at the urban farm, complete with new chores and more space taken up in the fridge.

In addition to the egg, I am also happy to report that the corn plants are taller than my son, the squash plants are covered in abundant blooms and the tomato plants are literally growing out of their cages. All signs point toward an abundance and I am incredibly grateful for all of it, even if it means more yard work and livestock chores for me. I will upload a picture of our new addition (the egg) as soon as I can get my son to let up on his vigil. Until then, happy eating and gardening!