Protection of the zucchini: Protection of the zucchini against frost and parasites

If you’ve ever grown zucchini, you know that you are a generally easy and reliable grower, provided of course that you avoid pests. Early frosts can also kill your hopes of finding zucchini bread and other pumpkin delights. In the next article, we’ll look at how to protect your zucchini, both by protecting them from parasites and from freezing.

How to protect zucchini from freezing

Some crops, such as cabbage, peas, carrots and parsnips, tolerate a little frost, but zucchini is a warm-season crop that can be damaged by the cold. If you are in an area where the first frost is imminent, protecting zucchini from frost is essential to their survival. It is important to make sure you wait until all frost possibilities have passed in your area before planting. That said, Mother Nature sometimes has other plans.

When it comes to protecting zucchini, you can cover them with straw, plastic, newspapers or old leaves. The goal is to trap the heat of the soil in the air around the plants. In the morning, remove the cover so that it does not trap the sun’s heat and kill the plants. However, keep in mind that this will only work if you have a very short, light frost.

Mature plants that bear fruit on the vines sometimes need to be harvested immediately.

Protect zucchini from parasites

You are not the only one to appreciate zucchini. Many creatures compete for their share of the loot. The usual suspects are pests, of course, but birds and rodents also gnaw on the fruit.

Nets placed over your pumpkin crop will help deter squirrels and other rodents, but keeping pests away from zucchini requires a smarter approach. Of course, there are

Always use insecticides, but keep in mind that if you follow this path, you are likely to kill beneficial insects as well. Beetles, aphids, borer beetles and caterpillars look forward to you turning your back on pumpkin plants. It is therefore important to have a plan of attack for the pumpkin plant.

The zucchini bug is one of the most harmful insects for all types of zucchini. When adults and juveniles feed, they inject a toxin into the plant that causes it to wilt and die. Look for adults on the underside of pumpkin leaves, often accompanied by clusters of small orange oval eggs. Their young look very different from the adults, more like spiders. Adults and nymphs can be picked by hand from under pumpkin leaves and drowned in a bucket of soapy water. The eggs can then be gently scraped off and discarded in the same way.

The zucchini borer is native to the eastern part of the United States. Adults look like a wasp, but are actually a kind of moth. They fly from late spring to early summer, looking for a likely pumpkin on which to lay their eggs. The resulting young hatch within a few weeks. These caterpillars penetrate the pumpkin stem and feed for 4 to 6 weeks until the plant dies. Again, these parasites can be selected by hand if they are not too damaged. Carefully cut the stem of the plant and remove the larvae by hand.

If just picking a hand makes you sick, a better plan of attack is to outwit the adults. Use row covers, a non-woven cloth blanket, to prevent the adults from laying their eggs. You can attach them if you prefer, or simply cover the plants for easy removal and watering.

There are also other ways to protect zucchini from marauding insects. Some people place small strips or squares of aluminum foil around the base of the plants to repel insects from the zucchini.

Diatomaceous earth can also be used. It consists of the bony remains of tiny sea creatures and although it looks dusty, it actually cuts the soft bodies of insects.

Apparently, you can try to attract zucchini bugs with the color yellow, because these insects supposedly have a penchant for color and if you paint or place something yellow nearby (but not too close to the vines), they will go for the lure. Hanging yellow plastic tape or ribbon works well and even better if you include some sacrificial pumpkin plants under the ribbon.

Another method of protection is companion planting. Interplant the pumpkin with plants that these insects don’t like, such as catnip, dill, lavender and marigold.

If all else fails and you’ve already had it, the big guns can come out. I’m talking about the insecticide. For zucchini bugs, insecticides are only effective against nymphs and must be sprayed immediately as soon as the eggs are visible on the leaves. Cover the underside of the leaves well with the spray and repeat every 7-10 days as long as eggs and nymphs can be found. To control zucchini vine borer, apply the insecticide to the stems of squash plants near the base every 7 days from late May to June.

For both insects, synthetic pesticides include sfenvalerate, permethrin, bigentrin and Sevin controls only vine moths. For an organic approach, try applying Neem oil. It should be applied more often (every 3 to 5 days) than synthetic insecticides, but it is safer for our bee friends – and for us.

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