Problem Growing Viney plants
I have had trouble for years growing any kind of melon or squash. Whether planted by seed or transplants, the plants start out thriving, set blossoms and sometimes produce a few squash or a small melon, but quickly the vine stems start to become brown and eroded where they emerge from the soil. As time progresses, the stems start to look shredded, as if someone took a knife and made cuts to shred the stem. Eventually, the leaves wilt and the plants die. This happens with any type of viney plant. I have tried planting the seeds or transplants inside a coffee can with both ends cut out to counter cutworms, and have also tried putting wood ashes around the base of the vine, all to no avail. I prefer not to use pesticides so I am wondering if there is anything I can do or if I should just decide I cannot grow these types of plants. Any advice for me?
Certified GKH Gardening Expert
This is a pest called vine borer and it is a bane of gardeners. They literally get into the vines and bore their way through. The best treatment I have found is to start treating your vining plants in the spring with an organic pesticide called neem oil. It is people and beneficial bug safe. It is absorbed by the plant and kills the vine borers inside the plant. You need to apply it weekly to the plants and is the best treatment I have seen for them. This article will also help: