Garden Fuck-Ups: What’s Eating My Squash?

Editor’s Note: New contributor Ali of Live for the Season is taking our long-standing Friday Fuck-Ups series in a new direction: out to the garden! Welcome, Ali!

Last year I found my green thumb and started my first garden. Each day after work I would rush home and check on my plants, and every time I saw something sprouting I would get excited. This is amazing! I’m going to grow my own food! Everything is wonderful! Until one day I went outside and saw a small crack at the base of my zucchini plant. Hmph. I looked closer and found a little pile of what resembled orange “sawdust” where the crack appeared. I didn’t think much of it — just figured that the weight of my zucchini plant had put pressure on the stem and as a result, it split. Still a bit curious, I reached down and touched the “sawdust,” and it felt mushy. But my plant was producing, so I wasn’t too concerned.

Fast forward two weeks. My zucchini production had decreased considerably. During the day the plant looked so sad and droopy that I considered yanking it out of the ground and putting it out of its misery. That tiny crack at the base of the stem had turned into a full-blown split, and it happened to all but one of my squash plants. A little research led me to find that my poor plants had fallen victim to “squash vine borers” — thick, worm-like creatures that burrow into the base of vines and eat their way inside the plant. They sit there inside the stems, like a chunky little kid stuck in a pipe at a water park, blocking all of the water and nutrients from getting past their thick little selves to the rest of the plant until the whole plant finally keels over and dies. And that orange sawdust I touched when I first noticed the issue? Yep — borer poop. Here is what my plant looked like after just a few weeks:

what the...?

Even worse was the fact that when the squash vine borers are finished killing the plants, they exit the stem and burrow into the soil where they “pupate.” They stay here throughout the winter, only to emerge in the spring as a flying, wasp-looking creature that will lay eggs at the base of next year’s plants and start the nasty-ass process all over again. Did these little bastards really think they could get away with living rent-free in my zucchini stems for not one, but two seasons? Apparently, yes. But thanks to some research, mama’s got a plan. Once I see the signs (droopy leaves, orange poop, cracked stems) I can supposedly stop these suckers before they wreak total havoc again by using a knife to make an incision in the stem until I find the culprit and evict him. Better yet, I can try to prevent him from even entering the plant by wrapping the base of the stem with material from an old stocking:

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The Top 10 Craziest Street Foods in the World

Editor’s Note: This article is brought to you by Rease Kirchner of, a team of foodie writers delivering a menu of delights to your inbox: daring delicacies, foodie travel tips and easy recipes to re-create in your own world kitchen. Follow the Fugu on Twitter @TheFlyingFugu.

For our money, we’d say street food is usually just as delicious as fancier restaurant fare (if not more so). And we’re not just talking about sandwiches and hot dogs. Take a look at the ten wackiest street food finds from around the globe — each one actually a very common find in one particular corner of the earth.

10. Fruit with Chili Powder — Mexico

You may think it’s odd to put something spicy on something sweet, but Mexicans do it all the time. It is very common to pick up fruit in a bowl or on a stick with some spicy chili powder sprinkled on top. Think of it as a twist on the sweet and salty combo — Mexico has sweet and spicy instead! (Photo: Spotreporting)

9. Chicken Feet — China

These grilled feet may look disturbingly similar to a human hand, but don’t worry, they actually come from a chicken. The meat is described as a bit chewier than a chicken leg might be. On the street, they are generally served grilled with some spices, on a stick or just in a basket. (Photo: Whologwhy)

8. Bugs on a Stick — Thailand

In Thailand,insects like crickets, grasshoppers and worms are fried up, shoved on a stick and served up to anyone with a rumbling tummy. The taste varies by the insect and the spices used to flavor them. In general, the insects are crunchy on the outside and a little soft on the inside. Mmm…soft and flavorful bug guts. (Photo: Star5112)

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Hakuna Matata: Learning To Eat Bugs

I was not born an epicure; it has been a relatively slow evolutionary process. When I was young, I eschewed many foods I now love, such as: most vegetables, Mexican cuisine or any type of meat off the bone. Luckily, I grew out of my pickiness and now I am eager to stuff myself with organs, raw meat, marrow, you name it — anything edible is fair game.

Still, there are a few final hurdles I have yet to wrap my head (and mouth!) around. For example, while the nutritional value and sustainability of insects as food has been fairly well documented, the idea has never been at the top of my culinary to-do list. So when I received a coveted invite to the opening of Poquitos, a new restaurant in Seattle touting ultra-authentic Mexican street food, I knew I had to pay them a visit and sample their most notable menu offering: chapulines. Time to eat me some BUGS!

Before Poquitos, I was a virgin in the bug devouring department (except for that urban legend about the average human unintentionally eating eight spiders a year, which makes me want to die just thinking about it). My only “experience” with intentional bug eating heretofore was watching that “Hakuna Matata” scene in The Lion King: “Slimy yet satisfying!”

I honestly had no idea what to expect when I ordered my chapulines, but I knew I needed to have a margarita at the ready. Besides my lifelong vendetta against spiders, I’m not terrified of other bugs. But the prospect of putting a whole insect in my mouth wasn’t exactly delightful either. Especially when my lovely server deposited a huge bowl of them right in front of me. When Matt, one of Poquitos’ co-owners, stopped by my table to check in, I pulled him off the busy floor for a quick chat re: Mexican bugs. I needed to know what I was in for.

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