Tag Archives: squash

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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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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This Is A Reason to Not Trellis Winter Squash

Winter squash will root at stem junctions if allowed to grow over the ground.  For space considerations, I have to trellis most of my winter squash, however here is a plant that grew back down the trellis/cattle panel and along the ground.  It was a very long and healthy vine.
winter squash roots at stem junctions

And another:
winter squash rooting at stem junctions

On a trellised plant, you can see half-inch to inch white roots trying to grow at the stem junctions.  If they touch dirt, wow, another set of roots will develop.

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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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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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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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A Week of Rain Destroys a Squash Garden

This part of Texas is usually hot and dry during the summer.   This past week we had a very unusual event:  7 days of rain.    Every day we had some rain.   Some days we had over 2 inches and other days we had an eighth or a quarter inch of rain.  The total rain for the week was a bit over 6 inches.   You might think this is a good thing.  Not so – we had rain every day.   Along with high humidity, we had very little sunshine to dry the leaves off.   I went out to the garden a few times during the week and sprayed Neem oil on the leaves, but the rain every day just washed it off.

Before the week of rain, I had been battling powdery mildew, but the rain spread the stuff all over the garden.  I can clearly see where the white stuff dripped to leaves below, to infect them.  I can also see where it splashed around, spreading it thru rain drops.

This 8 Ball zucchini is totally infected with powdery mildew.    This is rather unusual – these hybrid zucchini plants had showed themselves to be somewhat resistant to powdery mildew.
powdery mildew zucchini

Here are some more zucchini plants that have a heavy, thick coating of powdery mildew.  See how terribly thick those white spots are.
powdery mildew after rain

This squash plant is fatally infected with powdery mildew.
powdery mildew

This yellow summer squash plant is just about dead from powdery mildew.   All of the older leaves are fatally infected.  There just isn’t enough plant left to support the growing tip – this plant will probably die before it produces another squash.    It was a full, happy plant until the week of rain spread the mildew and killed the plant.
squash almost killed by powdery mildew

Another picture of powdery mildew all over zucchini leaves.  The stuff is ALL OVER!
powdery mildew on zucchini

Look at these leaves –  the powdery mildew is on every plant in the garden.   It must have been spread by the rain that splattered all over the garden for a week.
powdery mildew closeup

These cucumber leaves seem fairly resistant to the powdery mildew blight, but the older leaves have some strange tan spots and holes in them.   I don’t know what caused those holes.
cukes with holes in leaves

The older leaves on these zucchini plants are totally destroyed and it has spread to the new growth.  I sprayed the entire garden with Neem oil today, but most plants are t00 far gone to survive much longer.   The powdery mildew is just too rampant.

All squash plants are affected, even the once resistant hybrid zucchini and Waltham butternuts.  I have found out that Crenshaw squash are super- sensitive to powdery mildew.
grey zucchini with powdery mildew

This pic was taken before the rain week.  It shows what powdery mildew does to leaves.  A mild case of powdery mildew causes the leaves to become dry and stiff.   They then dry out, develop holes and then die.  This is the result of a mild case of mildew – after the week of rain I have a massive infection of powdery mildew.  I can see it killing entire groups of leaves at a time.
old leaves killed by powdery mildew

I usually burn my old squash plants at seasons end – I do not put them in the compost if they show any sign of disease of bug infection.  I’m not sure if powdery mildew will preclude my composting these plants.  I really do need green plants in the compost, but I don’t want to risk feeding the compost pile an organism that may survive composting and spread next season.  I’ll have to do some research on this matter.

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Another Look At Powdery Mildew

This summer yellow squash leaf has spots of powdery mildew on it.  This is just the beginning . . . If I do nothing, it will quickly spread.  To try to hold the spread of the mildew, I am spraying it with Neem Oil almost every day.  This seems to be slowing the spreading down.  It does not eradicate the stuff, but it seems to be hold the spread.  Once powdery mildew takes off, it will quickly spread and kill the squash plant.
powdery mildew

This summer yellow squash plant has many sploches of powdery mildew on the leaves.  It is slowly spreading, but hasn’t wiped any squash plants out yet – thanks to neem oil.   The mildew will spread with water splashes – it gets spread around.  I can see where leaves above have spread it to leaves below.
powdery mildew a continuing problem

This is one of the 3 Crenshaw winter squash plants that I planted – I had the seeds and just wanted to see what these long vines (they will grow maybe 20+ feet, the longest is now about 10 feet and still has only male blooms.  The female blooms grow on the second half of the vine) will do – since they were planted a month late, I really don’t expect any mature fruit from them.  The mildew seems to be thicker on the Crenshaw squash.
july 10 powdery mildew

Once powdery mildew arrives,  I have never been able to completely eradicate it.  I just have to try to keep it under control – keep it from spreading too rapidly.

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