My friend, Julie, Hatching Bunnies Farm, read my post and sent me an email with some great info about what went wrong this year. I had to share it with you so you won't feel so bad about your crops. I know it makes me feel a little better. Read on.
Just read your blog, let me try and solve a few mysteries for you :)
Tomatoes-didn't do well for anybody this year because our heat was high early. The pollen is killed between 90-95 degrees depending on the variety. It hit 100 in late April-so there wasn't much time to set fruit. Last year was better because the triple digits didn't hit until early June. As temps go down in the next few weeks, we should see some fruit forming once again. Also, southern Arizona was hit hard with russet mites. They can't be seen by the naked eye, but cause browning of the leaves on the tomatoes from the ground up. I didn't figure out what they were until too late. A couple of dustings of sulfur (which is great for tomatoes-all natural) would have taken care of them. I will be treating mine next year as a preventative measure.
The squash bugs were terrible as well this year. I have contacted an entymologist at Arbico (organic company in Tucson) and was given some good tips for next year. I have also found a squash bug and powdery mildew resistant heirloom squash for next year that should help. Here's what she said:
As for your problems with squash bugs, these critters are best controlled using
physical methods. If you place small boards or squares of cardboard near the
base of your squash plants, the squash bugs will congregate there at night. Go
out early the next morning, lift up the boards and sweep the bugs into a bucket
of soapy water. If you have outbreaks of the nymphs on your plants, you can
spray them directly with insecticidal soap or neem oil--or pyrethrin as a last
resort. (Avoiding the blooms, of course).
My daughter came up with a homemade aphid killer that worked well this year. Check my blog hatchingbunniesfarm.blogspot.com for that recipe.
Hopefully this fall's weather and bugs will be kinder to us. :)