Category Archives: Zucchini

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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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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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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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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Too Much Rain – Peppers Water-Logged

We have had a very unusual week of rain and my peppers don’t look too happy.

The new leaves, grown since the rain which left the soil in the beds drenched, are curled and deformed looking.
water logged peppers

All of the peppers in the raised beds have these curled, defective leaves.  The few peppers in pots that didn’t get rained on look normal.

Doing research, the most likely cause of these leaf issues are either too much water and/or temperatures too cool, which it is with all this rain.  Peppers like it hot and dry.  I have to hope that things will dry out and the peppers will grow back normally.  The beds are filled with fertile soil rich in humus and organic matter, so they drain well.  The problem is that it has rained just about every day.
water logged pepper leaves

You can see that the older leaves look just fine, but the newer leaves that grew during the rainy time are deformed.  I started my pepper plants from heirloom seeds that I save and use year after year.  Gotta hope these plants make – I’m counting on all of the peppers – AND the fresh seeds for next year’s plants.

The swiss chard and squash are loving this rain.  I’m not sure about the beans or tomatoes – they don’t look just great either.

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Yellowing Squash Leaves – Chlorosis?

I have about 2 summer squash plants in one bed that have leaves that are yellowing and decaying.  This is one summer squash, planted among other squash.  Only this one plant has this issue.  The older leaves turned yellow between the veins, then dried to whitish.  The edges curl up and the leaf finally dries up.  The new inner leaves are fine for a while.  I decided to cut these bad leaves off, leaving the hollow stems, just in case it is a virus.  You can see the plant to the right, it is just fine.
yellowing squash leaves

This other plant, thru the raised cattle panel, about 2 feet further along the bed, also has some of these leaves.  I decided to cut them off also.
yellowing squash leaves

I have done a search as to what could be causing this problem.  The most likely culprit seems to maybe be chlorosis.  Chlorosis is a nutrient deficiency although I don’t know what nutrient it could be.  I found this: “Iron, sulfur and manganese deficiencies cause yellowing in the younger leaves first, while nitrogen, magnesium and molybdenum deficiencies first afflict the older leaves”.  I have what I need to rectify nitrogen and Mg deficiency:  blood meal and epsom salt.  It won’t hurt to spread a little bit of both around.  However, I still don’t understand how just 2 of a dozen plants have this problem.  I also have some organic fertilizer with lots of trace elements in it.  I think I will spread a bit of these 3 substances around these plants tomorrow.

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Overview Time

Time for another overview of my garden:

This shot shows all 6 long beds – 3 are straight in front.  To the left is my new garden shed.  The area around the shed in in the process of being developed.  I plan to plant about 4 more blueberry plants and many wild black berry bushes in the area this side of the white shed.

This front bed has hot peppers on the left side of the raised cattle panel and summer squash on the right side.  Directly under the panel, winter squash is growing.  This bed has Waltham Butternut.  You can see onions hanging over the edges.  Earlier this year I planted onions around the edges of most of the beds.  I have bark and shredded wood chips as ground cover between my raised beds to discourage weeds.

overview of garden

I plant marigolds all over the place – in the edges of the raised beds and in small pots placed all over.  If I didn’t have so many seedlings drying out and dying this spring, I would have many more pots of marigolds all over.  This bed has summer squash (yellow and zucchini) on both sides of the cattle panel.  Early Winter Butternut squash is growing under the panel and will grow up the panel.  I grow my winter squash vines up the cattle panels.  I planted a couple of peppers at the ends of these beds.  This bed has Dwarf Kale going to seed.  I didn’t particularly like this smaller leafed kale, but I so enjoy Brassicaceae plants going to seed.  I am using bamboo poles to hold the kale plants out of the way so that the squash planted around them have plenty of sun and space to grow.
overview of garden

The bed at the top left has summer squash this year.  Last year it was my pepper bed.  I try my best – with my limited space – to rotate crops each year.  The bed at the top right – the one with my winter tent hoops still up, has a batch of Autum King carrots at the front corner.  I need to pick most of them soon.  A few of them are already going to seed.  I am also letting a couple of these Slo Bolt leaf lettuce plants go to seed.  I have the time because this is going to be my Basil bed this year (love that pesto) – but my basil seedlings are not all ready.  Some are already in, as are some peppers.  The swiss chard at the back of this bed will all be harvested and dried when my latest batch of basil seedlings are ready to go into this bed.  At the top left are some large pots with tomatoes, mentioned in another post.  Between the beds are bark and wood mulch, in the beds is leaf mulch.  I mulch all bare dirt.
overview time

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Female Blossoms, But No Male Blossoms To Pollinate Them

These hybrid 8 Ball Zucchini plants grow fast and strong, but they put out female blossoms first!?  I have had 4 female blossoms so far, but not a single male cucurbit blossom to pollinate them with.  Since I’m not saving seed, ANY male cucurbit blossom would have worked – squash, cucumber or melon.

8 ball zucchini first fruit

What a waste.  I decided last season that I didn’t plan to buy anymore 8 Ball seeds because they could be hard to harvest.  Often, the round fruit would form on the bottom of the plant stem so that to harvest it I had to move the stem around a bit.  I don’t like to move the stems – they could snap or bend.  And then when I cut the plant off, if it was under the stem, the plant would usually fall over because the fruit was holding the plant up.  Just too messy.  However, since I still have seeds, I will plant some each year until the seeds are gone.

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Freezing Shreaded Zucchini

This year I just didn’t have the freezer room to blanch and freeze the zuch harvest and didn’t have the opportunity to dry them in a food dryer.  So, how to preserve them?  i decided to shread and freeze the over-grown zuchs.  I simply wash the over-sized zucchini and shread the outer meat section, discarding the pithy-seedy middle, as shown below.  I freeze the shreads in sandwich zipper bags to be used in zucchini bread, pancakes and what ever else we decide to put them in.
shreaded freezer zuchini

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