Garden Journal

Bored to death: At this point in the season, squash-vine borers are making their mark — sudden wilting of leaves on otherwise healthy plants. Examine the stem adjacent to the drooping leaf closest to the root and you’ll probably find a hole surrounded by frass — the polite name for bug poop. With a sharp knife, slit the stem lengthwise from the entry hole so as not to sever xylem (water conducting veins) and you will soon skewer the offending borer. Wilted leaves usually recover quickly once the squirmy invader is vanquished.

Nipping the bud: Basil and other leafy herbs bloom like mad in mid-summer. Pinch back blossoms to force more leaf growth.

Peak oil: To thwart corn borers, apply five or six drops of mineral oil at the tip of the cob on corn silks five to six days after silk emergence. Adding Bt powder to the oil increases its effectiveness.

Rows to hoe: Land of Sky Regional Council has volunteer opportunities for gardeners. The nonprofit needs people who like to work with young people, those who can mow yards and others who like to do groundskeeping. If you’d like to volunteer in one of these areas, openings are available in Buncombe, Henderson, Madison and Transylvania counties. For details on these jobs, or to find out more about the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, contact Connie Pegg or Bennie Norman at 251-6622, or e-mail

About Cecil Bothwell
A writer for Mountain Xpress since three years before there WAS an MX--back in the days of GreenLine. Former managing editor of the paper, founding editor of the Warren Wilson College environmental journal, Heartstone, member of the national editorial board of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, publisher of Brave Ulysses Books, radio host of "Blows Against the Empire" on WPVM-LP 103.5 FM, co-author of the best selling guide Finding your way in Asheville. Lives with three cats, macs and cacti. His other car is a canoe. Paints, plays music and for the past five years has been researching and soon to publish a critical biography--Billy Graham: Prince of War:

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