Squash vine borers; and debate continues on impatiens cuttings

Q We moved to a new location and our garden wasn't as good this year as usual. The worst problem was squash vine borers. The plants grew but then wilted , due to grubs in the stems. What can we do next year?

If possible, change the location of your squash planting as cocoons overwinter an inch or so below the soil level. Also, gather and destroy all the old vines.

In the spring, deep plowing will help ir2l,0,8l,8p6

smother out the cocoons that would hatch into moths (which look like wasps). About the time that the blooms appear, the moths lay flat, brownish eggs on the stems; the larvae hatch in about a week. Then they bore into the stems. You can detect them by the mealy frass.

If grubs are present, slit the stem carefully and remove them. Cover the slit area with soil and it will usually heal. Pesticides, which can be applied at seven-day intervals, are rotenone or methoxychlor.

Q Woodchucks ate everything this past summer except our geraniums. Since they are expensive to buy each spring, we would like to keep them for next year. When we lived in Germany, we brought our balcony boxes into our basement and the plants kept well over the winter. Now we live in a mobile home with no basement. We heard while overseas that geraniums can be pulled up, wrapped in newspapers, and stored in a dark place, even under a bed, and still survive.

We suspect the houses in question had cool rooms, because our experience has been that geranium plants will keep in such a manner if the temperature doesn't go above 50 degrees F. (10 degrees C.) and the relative humidity is greater than in most centrally heated homes.

Ours have survived hanging upside down in paper bags in our garage, which never goes below 40 degrees F. and not above 50 degrees F. in the winter.

If you have a laundry room, you might try standing the plants, close together , in peatmoss in a box and then watering them just enough so that the roots do not dry out. The tops can be pruned back to 4 or 5 inches in late February. You can pot them up then or wait till March.

When warmer temperatures come around, you can move them outside.

Impatiens cuttings:

Our note on rooting impatiens cuttings brought much comment from readers. One thought perhaps the cuttings were being thrown out too soon. Hers always wilt completely for a day or two, she wrote, but then spruce up again.

Another said hers had always gotten mushy stems instead of roots, but our suggestion to use a piece of charcoal the size of a pea in the water eliminated the problem. She also concurs that tepid water helps to prevent wilting, as does a rooted cutting of coleus in the water.

Other suggestions include: Take cuttings in the early morning; take cuttings in the evening after the sun goes down; and snap the cuttings at a joint rather than using a sharp knife.

We ourselves find that New Guinea and double impatiens usually are easier to root, but we still follow the rule to take cuttings when it is cool; remove the bottom leaves, fat buds, and blooms; and make the cut just below a joint with a sharp knife. If you have a question about your garden, inside or out, send it, along with a self-addressed, stamped envelope, to the Garden Page, The Christian Science Monitor, One Norway Street, Boston, Mass. 02115.m

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