We're planning to grill the first squash from our garden tomorrow: some zucchini and a variety of yellow squash. I have to admit that the first to taste squash from our garden were pests. And we may not have the yields of some conventional gardeners this year. Yet, I don't regret our efforts to grow by organic methods.
During a break from the rain a couple of days ago, I noticed some shiny reddish and yellowish dots decorating a sprawling green leaf. So pretty, I had to take a picture. Then I realized this was evidence that squash bugs had already set up residence among the otherwise thriving plants. This seemed to account for how some of the zucchini fruits were looking stunted, although I thought maybe they were just rotting from touching the wet ground. One gardening friend suggested using a fence or stakes to encourage the plants to stretch upward. This University of Kentucky site explains that squash bugs can do this sort of damage. I thought the photos there were helpful, although I'm not interested in conventional spraying.
I hand-picked the tiny eggs off the leaves and disposed of them, then sprayed the plants with a diluted version of the water/soap/vegetable oil spray I had used previously. This seemed to discourage bugs for the time being. I'm thrilled that by keeping hazardous chemicals out of the garden, our family can learn so much about gardening and the natural world together. Whether they're playing among the rows or eating fresh-picked food, I hope my kids can always have positive experiences with gardening.