^These guys ^ The super cabbages. No deprivation of water, soil, or sunlight could kill them until the armyworms showed up. The armyworms eventually got bored and moved on to the tomatoes which had been our "good" crop. Nothing is safe.
Experiment: did you know you can soak armyworms in bleach for 48 hours, and they will not die? True story.
And then the blight settled in as well.
We've been applying a natural agent called Neem oil every week or so. I think it's the extract of some South American tree. It has some anti-fungal and anti-insect properties but it's no cure all. It seems to have deterred the armyworms a little and may keep the blight in check. Hard to say where we'd be without it.
The sickly summer squash seemed to finally start growing . . . and then it mysteriously wilted. There was this orange goo around the stalks, and I thought it was one more fungus among us. Oh no. I scraped off the goo and caught a flash of the worm from Dune. Just kidding. Sort of. A big fat maggot had been eating the plant from the inside out. Vine-boring larvae apparently; thanks Farmer's Almanac. These guys are awful. They hide inside the stalks and stems, and it's a hunt to cut them out without totally destroying the plant.
I think we planted over a dozen summer squash plants. Here's our lonely, single zucchini yield.
And the compost pile gave us this butternut squash. We'll see if it survives. I've heard winter squash has to ripen quite a while on the vine.
Many people have recommended pulling out the big guns and using Sevin dust (carbaryl = neurotoxin). But I'd rather not turn the garden into yet another area of no-no! for the baby and the dog. Bubba--if he's quick enough--will pick a tomato and eat it like an apple before I can wash it. What's the fun of a home garden when it's a hazmat zone?
Meanwhile, the tomatoes are earning the MVP award. They've been hit hard--about every other fruit has to be tossed because of worms or fungal rot--but they are prolific in spite of it all. One plant is literally seven feet tall.
They're the encouragement I need to keep trying.