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Failed Garden Experiments


Part of becoming an avid gardener is experimenting.  Yes, this is risky as not all experiments turn out to be good ones.  In fact, some can be downright disastrous!  But, one good thing you can get from a failed experiment is you know what not to do next time.

I've had a couple of failed experiments this year.  Probably the biggest problem that I have had with gardening is squash bugs and vine borers.  I really despise these little creatures!  The squash bug is not even native to America, yet, it is becoming a nuisance in most states.  They are quite hardy too and I am finding myself saying this through gritted teeth. Deep breath, Susie, deep breath.  I have squashed so many of the those bugs that sometimes when I closed my eyes at night, I immediately pictured squash bugs!

I have read that nasturtiums help repel squash bugs and thought I would give it a try.  I planted many nasturtiums next to my summer and winter squash.  In fact, I planted them first so that they would have a chance to become established before the squash grew.  Did it help the squash bug population? Not one bit!  In fact, I saw a couple of bugs on the nasturtiums!  I have to say though, that the nasturtiums were quite yummy to eat, so, there was a little bonus to this experiment!

vine borer 2

I decided to be more proactive with combating vine borers this year.  Vine borers lay eggs at the base of the squash stem, and if left to hatch, the larva will chew it's way into the base of the stem and just keep on eating and getting fat while they are at it.  Nasty little things!  The plant will not survive.  I have cut many of vine borers out in my gardening days and it isn't much fun, especially when you have numerous squash plants.  

So, this year my kids and I went along the young plants and scraped off the eggs at the base.  This was done even before they flowered.  I thought I had conquered them, but, to my dismay, it didn't work.  This is something that has to be done more than once.  Although I wouldn't call this an experiment, but, more of a gardening mistake, it was still a failed attempt.  As always, I have learned something and hope to make some changes for next year.

To kill two birds with one stone, I plan on covering the young plants with row cover until they flower.  I am hoping I can deter any unwanted pests until the plants are at least well established.  I have lost whole squash crops to these little pests!  I have even used 7-Dust as a last resort.  It did kill some bugs, but, not enough to save the plants.  I am also planning on keeping chickens in a chicken tractor over the entire garden this fall and winter.  We only put them on half of the garden last year and the squash beds were not one of them.  They will scratch around and eat slugs, bug eggs and larvae that could be very harmful to the garden.

Here's hoping it will work.  If I could, I would ship squash bugs right back to China, Japan and Korea, where they came from!

How about you?  What experiments have you tried that didn't work and what did you learn?



  1. I couldn't help but think of our adventure gone wrong and how much we did learn from it! Sharing my post about our hoop house: http://justabout2handsful.blogspot.com/2012/07/hoop-house-experiences.html

  2. LOL! How did I guess, when I clicked on this post from FB, that the post would be about VINE BORERS?! Are they not the most evil little things? I know! :( Our first year that we experienced them, I did a post on it too, with lots of photos and heartache. It was almost comical, it was so pathetic. If you'd like to read it: http://houseofjoyfulnoise.com/you-have-to-know-this-pains-me/

    But to answer your question, our experiment to avoid them was the tin foil around the base of the plants trick. FAIL! As the squash grows even a tad, the tin foil just busts off. I let my husband dig out the first few out of the stems, and we reap all of the squash we can. By the time the plants are really effected, we're sick of summer squash and zucchini anyway, so we let it go, and then rip all of the plants out. But STILL...I want to WIN!!

    Sorry; I don't wish these buggers on any gardener!!


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