Category Archives: Summer Squash

Blanching & Freezing Overgrown Zucchini

Somehow I carelessly missed about a half dozen overgrown zucchini. Since it is early in the season and the weather is still wet, I hoped that they would not be seedy and that I could freeze them. Yes, that is how it worked out.

I had put black several gallon nursery buckets sideways under the enormous zucchini plants that are spreading over the sides of my raised beds.  These zucchini were hard to tell apart from the black pots in the shadows under the leaves.  By the time I realized they were zucchinis, they were overgrown.  It happened during a week of overcast, wet weather.
overgrown zucchini

Since this is early in the season and these are some of the first zucchinis, I had real hope that they would not be seedy.  Later in the season, especially when the drought sets in, these would have been inedible.  These slices are all ok with very immature, soft seeds.
overgrown zucchini that is not overgrown

Only one zucchini was partially seedy, and then only at the base bulb.

overgrown zucchini

Zucchini are diced up in preparation of blanching and freezing.
diced zucchini ready to be blanched

Since the zucchini dices seemed to want to float, I had a round cooling rack that fit exactly in the dutch oven that I used to blanch the dices.  I put the dices in  boiling water and kept them there for 2 to 3 minutes.  I then scooped them out and put them in icy water to quickly cool them.

Since I can’t make that many ice cubes and a trip into town is out of the question, I used about 10 sandwich zipper bags, filling them full of water and then freezing them.  While I don’t have extra ice cube trays, or places to level them in the freezer, I could stick those water filled zipper baggies all over the freezer.  Before using, I put them on a wood cutting board (so I didn’t crack the poly ones) and used an ice pick to chop up the ice.  Worked wonderfully.

use cooling rack to hold down zucchini during blanching

After taking one load out of the hot water, I brought it to a boil again before dumping the next batch of zucchini in it.  I did about 3 batches.  The result is these 11 bags of blanched zucchini.  Each bag is about a pint.
finished zucchini blanched packed in bags

Really glad I could save these overgrown zucchinis.  I need to monitor the plants better.

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Powdery Mildew Strikes Again

We have had a very cooler and wet spring and the powdery mildew is back with a vengeance.

A day before our last good rain, I sprayed all of my crops with a mixture of Garrett Juice (2 tbsp per gallon), neem oil (almost 2 tbsp per gallon), and a tablespoon per gallon of ocean minerals.  After wards, the leaves had a nice rich green shine to them and the powdery mildew could not be seen.  I suspect that it was just hidden under the glossy finish.  After a few more days of very light sprinkles, enough to wash the spray off, I can again see spots of powdery mildew all over.

I had a small pump bottle of copper fungicide, so I sprayed the most affected leaves.  Tomorrow when I go to town I will look for a concentrated bottle of copper and I plan to add that to my spray mixture of Garrett Juice, neem and ocean minerals.

Neem oil can treat fungus, mites and insects, with varying efficacy.

It starts with just a few small spots here and there.

powdery mildew on squash plants

Then it spreads.

powdery mildew on squash closeup

Another squash leaf.  Different varieties of summer squash and zucchini have differing tolerances and immunity to the powdery mildew.   Winter squash and gourds seem to have the strongest resistance, except for spagetti squash.

powdery mildew on squash plants

I cut out the leaves that are totally wiped out by the mildew.  They are light yellow, covered with the white mess and dry and stiff.  The powdery mildew if a parasite fungus that taps into the leaves and feeds off of the squash leaves.

 

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Squash Issues – Yellowing Leaves on Some Plants

In one of my raised beds, I have some squash plants – both summer yellow and zucchini – that are turning yellow.   In the neighboring bed some of the late planted squash appears to be stunted.  This is affecting the older leaves first.  The edges turn yellow and the leaf surface is splotched with yellow areas.  (This year I am growing some of my summer squash – both yellow and zucchini – in tomato cages to see if I can get a better control over the plants that would otherwise sprawl all over.)

The little squash plant to the front left of this caged plant appears to be stunted.  The plant to the back, right of the center caged plant is OK.  The problem plants are intermixed with plants that are just fine and looking good.  This is a pointer to mosaic virus as opposed to a nutrient deficiency.  I have a hard time thinking that a nutrient deficiency would only affect intermittent plants when the soil was turned over and mixed before planting.
summer squash leaves are yellowing

And a closeup:  The younger leaves are OK so far.
summer squash leaves are yellowing

After spending hours searching for an answer, the 2 most promising answers are either a nutrient deficiency or a mosaic virus.

Below is a broader view.  Some of the plants are affected while others aren’t.  To add more confusion, I only made note of the varieties that I originally planted, not the subsequent 3 re-seedings that I had to do because of poor germination.  (I don’t know why the seeds did not germinate well, the original planting was 2 year old professional seed that has been stored in the refrigerator.)  The 2 original varieties were Superpik yellow and Obsidian zucchini, both on the Cucumber Mosaic Virus Resistant list at Cornell’s Squash resistance lists.

What is affecting my squash does not look exactly like any mosaic virus images I found, neither does it look exactly like Zinc deficiency, although it does look a wee bit more like the zinc deficient images.  It could also be magnesium or manganese deficiency.

So what to do?  I am not ready to pull the plants because I don’t know for sure if it is a mosaic virus.  I am going to water the squash with a handful of Epsom salt in the water.  Maybe I can crush a few zinc vitamin pills and add it to the magnesium sulfate mix.
summer squash leaves are yellowing

Oh what to do?  I have squished a few squash bugs and scraped numerous batches of eggs off of the leaves.  My research has revealed that aphids and cucumber beetles are the culprits that transmit mosaic viruses, not squash bugs, although squash bugs are blamed for transmission of some plant diseases.  No clear answer.

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Is This A Squash Vine Borer?

I have seen several of these bugs flying around.  I don’t think that they are squash vine borers – the wings look different from other squash vine borers I have smashed in the past. (I also don’t know what that green think is in the top right corner on that marigold bud.)

is this a squash vine borer, don't think so

I had massive summer squash die off, but I don’t think it was from squash vine borers, but it could have been. I don’t know what to think. Next spring I will have to keep better tract of the stems of my squash. I use BT and inject it into the base of my squash stems with a syringe until it squirts back out. If it leaks out of the stem somewhere along the bottom, then it is probably leaking out of a borer hole.

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Squash Bugs, Yuck

These were the first squash bug eggs of the season, back on May 7.  (Note the little baby pine trees – they are all over).

squash-bug eggs

Almost a month later, they are almost out of control.  It is very hard to look for and hand-squash the disgusting, smelly squash bug.  (I can only bring myself to squash the adult bugs with a pair of leather gloves on).  You can readily see the nymph damage – they suck the green life out of your leaves and you can see the holds and yellowing spots that form, and finally end in sections of the leaf turning brown and disintegrating.
squash bug nymph holes in leaves

These are some squash bug nymphs – soft, gray things with black legs.  If there are a bunch of the underside of a leaf, I will hold one hand over the top of the leaf and rub my hand over the bottom, smashing them all in one nasty swipe.  Icky.
squash bug nymphs

 

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Second Planting Harvest

As noted many times, my Spring planting was a disaster, probably because of Dow Agri-science’s evil environmental poison called Aminopyralid, it could be picloram – also an environmental toxin that doesn’t go anywhere quickly. I think a got a several ton load of ‘Toxic Compost’, the term for compost ruined by aminopyralid or picloram.  Well, I replanted in mid-summer.  Ordinarily this would have been enough time for a good second harvest.  However, with the current ‘global warming’ of colder and earlier winters, we had an early freeze in October which killed the summer crops.  The two green gourds on the left just didn’t mature enough and end up on the compost pile, as did the small green squash in front.  The two tan squash finished turning tan and are still sitting on the counter.
second planting harvest

More railing on Evil Dow and their environmental toxin aminopyralid or picloram:  I planted peas in the fall in a bed that peas were planted in February and also failed.  All summer long and the bed is still toxic.  A second planting of peas killed by Dow’s greed and dis concern for the environment.  These pea plants, which should have been almost 2 feet tall, only grew a few inches.  Each one put out a terrible pea pod that looks like it holds one pea.  Terrible.  Thanks Dow!  Your greed has killed 2 seasons of my garden.  I simply can’t throw all the soil out and try to find more – it took me two years to get this much soil – a few dump truck loads and a few tons of aged horse manure.
dow's poison aminopyralid killed my garden, toxic compost

Thanks Dow, your selfish greed is probably responsible for the death of my garden.  And I can’t do anything about it except spread the word.

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Squash Bugs – Nymphs and Their Damage

These pics are from a month ago, before the plants died off.  I have since gone on a malathion rampage to wipe out as many squash bugs as possible before they hide for the winter.  I do this every fall.  And it worked – I see very few squash bugs.  In a new post I will show what my replanted squash plants look like now – they are jumbo and beautiful with narry a squash bug.  The very few that I have seen, I can squash with a gloved hand.

Here, I have circled 2 nymphs and a light spot on the leaf where a cluster of them had been sucking the life juice out of the leaf.
squash bug nymphs

Here is a cluster of eggs.  For some reason, most of the egg clusters that I find are on the bottom side of leaves even though most publications say they eggs can be found usually on the top of leaves.  Also in this picture are 2 holes left by a past feeding frenze of nymphs.  They kill sections of the leaf where they feast.
squash bug nymph holes in leaves

This is what their damage looks like from the top of the leaf.
squash bug nymph holes

A whole cluster of nymphs.  They are easier to squash when they are clustered – simply wipe over the lot of them with a finger.   I seem to have lots of  tiny little ants that always clean up the squash bug remains.
nymph squash bugs

During the winter I will still find adult squash bugs hidden around the shed and greenhouse.  Interesting where they find to hide.

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Another Look At What I Consider A Failed Squash Season

An analysis of my first summer squash planting.  (I plan to replant by the end of July – we have 2 planting seasons here, although with this global cooling of the past few years, the cold weather gets here sooner in the fall than it used to ).

I am very disappointed with the plants and their production.  Something got the garden this year and I strongly suspect Dow Agriscience and their poison aminopyralid had something to do with it.  The heirloom Rattlesnake Pole Beans also totally failed – all 3 successive plantings.  The peppers failed.  I have a dozen or so heirloom pepper varieties that I have replanted for years.  This year, however, the pepper plants were deformed and never grew properly.  I don’t trust any of the very few peppers that have been produced.  Most of the few fruit shrivels long before the fruit matures.  I am going to have to buy new heirloom pepper seeds and Rattlesnake Pole beans this fall from Southern Exposure, Baker Creek and maybe Seed Savers.

The squash just didn’t do either.  At the very first of the season, most of the plants initially grew wonderfully.  Then they started to die.  The plants just died almost overnight long before producing anything but a few male blossoms.  Often times the leaves quickly yellowed and the plant then dies.  Some plants just flopped over in a day – but careful examination of the plants did NOT show any sign of squash vine borers, so something else killed them.

Some of the butternut squash plantings are developing yellow spots that precede death.

Here are some pictures of the death and destruction.

Here, the base of 6 Waltham Butternut squash plants are dying – starting at the base of the stem and dying along the vine.  About 6 or so feet along the right vine, the leaves are starting to develop those yellow spots.  The vines that have grown to the left and around the base of the raised bed are rooting into the ground so hopefully the fruit set on those vines will mature although the base of the plant is dying.

the base of these waltham butternut squash vines are dying

After seemingly growing well for a while, many of the summer squash are developing light green spots on their leaves.  These plants quickly dye after the leaves finish turning yellow.
light green spots developing on squash leaves

More summer squash baby leaves turning yellow, away from the veins.  This quickly spreads to the entire plant and it dies.  I have kept my evil squash bugs to a minimum so they are not a problem (although I hate them and can’t tolerate even one bug or nymph or eggs on the leaves) and I don’t think they have transmitted any disease to the squash.  It’s got to be something else, but what?  I recently spread organic fertilizer all over the beds – but the plants were already deteriorating before that – and the beans and peppers were already damaged before the fertilizer application.

light green spots on waltham butternut squash leaves

These are hybrid butternut squash (these seeds grew fine last year).  After growing well for a while, they are developing yellow spots.  These yellow spots spread and turn more yellow, then those spots turn brown and a hole appears as the leaf dies.
spots on butternut squash leaves

Many of the baby squash are molding.  They have been pollinated – bees are all over in the early morning, and I like to hand pollinate all blossoms I find each day.  For some reason, the fruit is no longer reaching maturity – lots of baby fruit is dying even before the blossom even opens for pollination.  Early in the season, the fruit was reaching maturity.  Is there a delayed reaction to aminopyralid?  There has been no other herbicide usage on my property.  We are way out and far away from any neighbors and surrounded by 60′ trees, so I don’t think any herbicide drifted in from anywhere.
baby fruit is dying on zucchini and squash plants

Some more yellow leaf spots on Waltham Butternut squash in another area of the garden.  It seems that this if affecting mainly the butternut squash varieties.  This vine is growing on the ground and has rooted along the vine.
yellow spotson butternut squash leaves

More hybrid butternut winter squash.  So many of these plants are developing these spots.  The yellow spots spread, turn whiter, then brown that turns into holes then the leaf dies.  This seems to start at the base of the plant and spreads along the stem quickly.  I have a document from Dow Agroscience that talks about the 3 day rule and it specifically mentions fields that will be planted with cucurbits (squash).  This tells me that that poison does affect cucurbits to some extent.  I have to think that this very odd damage to my squash is somehow related to that poison that has been let loose.   I have never
yellow spots o butternut leaves

This leaf has what I believe to be spider mite damage.  I see tiny blackish spots on the bottom of the leaf and believe that it is spider mites.  Some of these leaves also have a small black hopping bug on their top.  I think it is some sort of plat-sucking bug.
white spots on squash leaves

The leaf on the upper left – below –  has a bit of powdery mildew on it.  The past few weeks, powdery mildew hasn’t spread fast because it has been so hot and dry.  I have been spraying affected leaves with Neem oil and it seems to hold the powdery mildew down.  The leaf in the bottom middle has what looks to be spider mite damage.
problematic squash leaves

I just don’t know what to think.  This bed was planted with about 50 squash plants, half a dozen varieties including both zucchini and yellow summer squash.  The plants all started out very nicely, but then started dying quickly.  When they were growing well, they were starting to produce nice zucchini – the yellow summer squash never really made it.  As you can see, there aren’t many squash plants left and these plants just aren’t producing any fruit.  I just don’t understand.  Last year when my beds were only half full, and full of sandy ‘top soil’ at that, my plants did very well – much better than they have done since I filled the other 6″ of bed with that composted horse manure.
dying squash

I have planted basil seedlings in the open areas.  I’ll let them grow for a while until I pull everything up and plant a second round of summer plants.  If you can make it out,  in several of the top beds in the pic, you can see the scrawny, half alive pepper plants – by this time they should all be full and bushy with lots of peppers – didn’t happen.

Articles that I have read about the poison aminopyralid, a test is mentioned whereby pea or bean plants are planted in samples of suspected soil.  If the seedlings grow fine, all is well, but if the seedlings show problems, then Dow’s poison is still at work.  I think I’ll plant bean seeds around the garden and see how they fare.  Haven’t heard back lately from the Dow rep who contacted me – they are supposed to stop by and look at the destruction and see if they lay claim to any of the damage.

Puzzled and upset . . . . . . . .

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Squash, Zucchini and Cucumbers Are Starting To Come In

Finally, the squash and cucumbers are starting to come in.

The round zucchini is a hybrid 8 Ball. I think that the 2 zucchini on the left side are Elite Hybrid – I picked the small one a few days too early.  The pepper is a sweet banana and the 3 cucumbers are either Twilley Tasty Green hybrid or Japanese Long Heriloom –
squash, zucchini and cucumbers are starting to mature

I am picking the onions that I find.  I waited too long and some of the tops have already dried up.  If I miss some onions, they will re-sprout in the fall.  Some of these onions are from sets that I  bought at a big box store and some are from seeds that I started at the first of the year – see an earlier post – I didn’t bother making note of which are which.
onion harvest

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Overview Time

Time for an overview.  This garden, except for the peppers, has exploded in the past 3 or so weeks.

This view is from the center row, looking up at 4 raised beds – 2 on each side.  In the far set of beds, you can see the summer squash over flowing into the row between the beds.  Since I don’t have very much bed space, I planned to grow squash on each side of the raised cattle panels in the middle and allow the squash to grow over the side into the middle beds.

In the front bed on the right, you can see the cucumbers and the waltham butternut squash growing on the ground around the bed.  The left bed has chard and some poor quality tomatoes.

overview of garden

This picture is from standing at the opposite end of the garden, looking at those squash plants growing into the aisle.
overview of garden

It was very humid today and the camera lens fogged up on this picture.  This picture was standing just a bit over from the last picture.  The grass is in serious need of mowing, but it has been so wet this past week.
foggy lens  garden overview

A closeup of the zucchini and squash.  These are hybrid plants from Twilley Seed.  They grow larger than heirloom plants.  Some winter squash – butternuts – are growing up on the center cattle panel.  That is a pot of basil in the front corner.
overview of garden

The squash is doing great.  The peppers are a failure due to excessive spring rain.  The beans aren’t doing the greatest.  The chard has to be harvested soon because it doesn’t like the heat.

I mulch between the raised beds with wood chips and bark.

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