Garden Fuck-Up: What's the Dill?

Sorry, couldn”t help myself with that title. But seriously—what the hell is going on with my dill? Last year, I totally killed it. And I don”t mean “killed it” like hipsters mean it, as in, holy crap I just kicked ass and I”m amazing. I mean I literally. Totally. Killed it. After just two weeks.

This year I decided to plant it again, because of course I would do better. With one more year of gardening under my belt, my thumb one brighter shade of green, I planted my dill with full confidence that I would grow that sucker tall and strong. I”d have so much of the stuff I”d be mixing casino pa natet it in with carrots, pickling my cucumbers with it, and making “dill onion bread.” In just a few short weeks I might literally turn Greek from all the batches of yogurt I”d mix it with. By hipster definition, I”d kill it. But shortly after:

I killed it. Every other herb in my herb garden is flourishing, but this guy sent up brown, stiff, ugly little middle fingers sprouting from the dirt. What”s up with my dill? What am I doing wrong? Because I”m kind of salivating over that onion dill bread that I”ve yet to make, and the stubborn little garden gnome that lives inside my head won”t allow me to purchase dill from the grocery store. Any ideas?

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Garden Fuck-Up: Vine-Ripened Fail

In today’s installment of Garden Fuck-Ups I present to you the idea of the vine-ripened tomato.

I’ve been eye-balling that sucker for a week now in all its juicy green glory, waiting for the right time to pluck it off the vine, slice it, and enjoy it with some fresh mozzarella, balsamic vinegar, and fresh basil. Who knows, I might even get crazy and drizzle it with a bit of pesto. Sounds amazing, doesn’t it?

I went into the garden the other day and saw that said tomato was just showing the slightest hint of turning from green to red, but barely enough to notice. It was growing, and I stood there admiring it like a proud parent thinking of how far it had come. They grow up so fast, don’t they? I’d leave it for one more night to allow the color to turn just a bit more, since vine-ripened tomatoes taste sooooo good. It was going to be awesome.

The next day I approached the garden, basket in-hand, and smiled as I went to pull my prize from my tomato plant. I could already taste the caprese I had mentally sliced up and drizzled with oil. I reached around the fruit—and was suddenly bitch-slapped by Mother Nature. Apparently some unidentified garden pest had other plans for my tomato:

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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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