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.
Then it spreads.
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.
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.
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.
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.
With the move this past spring, as previously noted, all of my garden was planted at least a month late, including some winter squash.
The top left is one of only 2 Seminole Pumpkins that I harvested. They grew wonderfully the last growing season of my old home. I purchased new heirloom Seminole Pumpkin seed from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange this fall. I like them. They are a nice single serving size squash with a nice long stem. Oh, Next spring. . . Can’t hardly wait . . . . . .
The butternut standing up in the top right is one of about 3 hybrid butternuts that I planted. Now, this fall, they are doing better – but it is too late – I am ripping out all of the squash and cukes and preparing to compost the beds and get my fall crops in. More on that later. The little squash laying down is one of about 3 Waltham butternut heirloom squashes that matured. Not a very good harvest. I usually get bushels of the little Walthams. You have to be sure to get your crops planted in the right time frame.
This is the middle walkway between the 2 long rows of raised beds. The beds are 5 feet wide and 16 feet long – to accommodate the 16′ cattle panels. I planned to plant climbing plants – mostly beans, squash and cucumbers – under the cattle panels on both sides of the bed and plant other things along the outer 2 feet of each long side. I planted these squash so that they could grow down into the 4′ aisle between the beds. In the very front, left you can see a long vine growing along the outside of the raised bed. This is one of 4 Crenshaw winter squash that I grew. These seem overly sensitive to powdery mildew and I don’t believe they will live long enough to produce a single fruit. The winter squash growing on the cattle panel on the front left are several varieties including Seminole pumpkin. These did very well last year. On the bottom right side is the cattle panel where my cucumbers are growing.
At the top middle left of the pic is the raised cattle panel on which my Long Red Chinese Beans are growing. They have really taken off but have yet to start producing the 12″ red ‘green’ beans. At the old place, I grew them up twine in a narrow bed in front of the carport. That gave them at least 10′ – which still wasn’t enough room. These cattle panels are no where high enough for the beans. They are growing wildly, but when I try to tuck the growing ends in and out of the cattle panels, they easily snap. Next year I will have to find some place better for them to grow.
This is the new compost pile. About 2 months ago, I flipped the big stuff from the old compost pile and added all the weeds I pulled getting the garden ready for spring planting.
I wish I was able to build retaining walls, but haven’t yet been able to get it rolling. I was considering using old wood pallets for the side and rear wall.
I still need to use my 1/2″ square wire mesh framed screen to screen the old compost pile, but before I could get the job done, these volunteer squash popped up. I hoped that they were summer squash, and thus would get some fruit within a month or so, but no, these look like winter squash. I might end up pulling them, tossing them in the new compost pile, so that I can finish using the compost they are growing out of.
Although it is quite obvious that the compost pile never heated up enough to kill any seeds it contained, the finished compost is still dirt like. This compost pile did it’s thing over the past winter. The new pile will heat up very well this coming summer. Twice a year I flip the compost pile. I flip it between the 2 locations you see – the new pile and where the volunteers are sprouting. After I flip the undecayed material from the old pile to the new, I put a framed mesh wire screen over my wheel barrow and shovel the compost onto it, shaking it to pass the fully composted material into the wheel barrow, and the uncomposted stuff left on the screen is dumped into the new pile.
As I previously mentioned, I planted 6 varieties of cucurbit moschata winter squash. I planted 10 Rugoso Violina seeds, and half came up and one vine survived. It grew to about 20 feet, then died. The stem looked like it started rotting?? So, over the course of a couple of weeks, I watched the leaves slowly wilt. Yesterday, as the leaves were pretty much dead, I cut this squash down. I would have liked for it to have stayed on the vine until the fall, but it was hanging in an area of direct, hot sun and I didn’t want the fruit to cook. So, I picked it. I have never grown this variety before, so I can only hope that it matured enough before vine death to keep – but I have my doubts because butternut squashes are usually tan. (As my Waltham Butternut squash vines died, I left the small greenish-yellow fruit on the vines and the fruit eventually turned tan – but that trellis area was in partial shade from giant castors growing nearby). I prefer to cook and eat my winter squashes in . . . winter.
A note of interest: all winter squashes put out a small knob at the junction of the leaves and fruit, along the vine. If this knob is covered with dirt, it may grow into a root. This is very desirable because if, as in my case, the main stem coming out of the ground dies, the vine will continue to live because it still has good root along the vine. Solely for space considerations, I had to grow my winter squash on cattle panel trellises. Next year I plan to allow the vines to grow along the ground for 3 to 4 feet before I train them up into the trellis. This way I will hopefully have a few extra roots.
Alternately, some of my vines are growing so long – 30+ feet, that I am allowing the vine to grow back down to the ground and some of my vines, especially the c. moschata Seminole Pumpkin, are trying to root in the middle to end of the growing tip of the vine.
Upper ground sweet potato winter squash is c. moschata, so I should not have to be worried about the evil squash vine borer. I decided to grow them in a mound on the ground. All 4 seeds sprouted, so I have 4 plants currently growing. The vines are supposed to grow 20′, so I am wondering where they will grow to. I initially tried to train them around the mound, but they simply must be allowed to spread out farther. Also, they tend to branch out from leaf junctions. I am allowing some of the branches to grow down the rows where I have my 3 raised cattle panels that are hosts to other winter squash.
You can see some of the sticks that I use to try to guide the growth direction of the vines. Different squash have different looking leaves – variations in the leaf patterns. You can see the distinct white-sploch pattern on the leaves.
I haven’t noticed any fruit yet, but there are lots of male buds. I see a bit fewer squash bugs around these squash. Different varieties of squash have different amounts of pests. What does that tell us? That not all squash taste the same to squash bugs. The one variety of squash in my garden this year that I haven’t seen any squash bug or it’s eggs on this year is the Seminole punpkin. The seed catalog said this heirloom variety was not too susceptible to pests, and it appears to be so. If this continues, and the Seminole pumpkin is a good winter squash, it may be my primary squash next year.
Originally published Summer 2011
(If you read my very first post, you will find that I am slowly re-creating my gardening blog that I originally hosted on my own domain, blueroseweb.com, but that my web host 1and1.com lost. Fortunantly, they were able to provide me a dump file that contained my writings and I am now recreating the blog).
Because of the many problems that I experience with certain winter squash, especially c. maxima, I, for the most part, only grow c. moschata winter squash. However, since there is always an exception to things, this year I am also growing 1 Crenshaw winter squash (and a few Table Queen Acorns made it so far). The problems I encounter with c. maxima include the evil, dreaded squash vine borer, excessive squash bugs and the environmental issue that the hot, dry south just isn’t the best place to be growing the awesomely beautiful jumbo squash.
As mentioned in previous posts, I have pre-emptively injected BT worm killer into the base of the stem of my one Crenshaw squash plant that germinated and survived. This is to try to prevent the evil squash vine borer from killing it. I need to remember to perform this injection of BT every 2 weeks or so during the summer – and also for all of my summer squash.
This is my first crenshaw squash: (note that I put my squash on a board or something similiar. This keeps the fruit from rotting and keeps the moles and gophers from tunneling up into the fruit.)
This is my 2nd fruit:
These pics were taken a week ago. I now have several more fruit and these 2 firsts are much larger. Winter squash have a characteristic of trying to pop out a few roots at each leaf junction in the stem. I need to put dirt on these roots and encourage them to grow into the ground. This strengthens the vine by providing more roots so that if the initial stem is damaged -like maybe by borers – the plant will still survive. I knew full well that this would be an issue when I decided to grow my 5 butternut varieties up onto cattle panels. So far this plant is nice an healthy and is sending out branches at many leaf junctions.
Waltham Butternut winter squash is an old faithful squash. I only planted 5′ of Waltham this year because I planted 5 other cucurbit moschata winter squashes. The Waltham has set it’s fruit first. I have gotten to where about the only winter squash I will plant is cucurbit moschata, because they have a solid stem and thus not susceptible to squash vine borers.
Last season, the evil squash vine borer ravished my cucurbit maxima. After the damage was done I learned that I could kill the borer inside the stem by using s syringe and injecting BT worm killer into the vine. This year I will be ready to inject BT into the hollow stems of my summer squash which are almost entirely cucurbit pepo. Everyday I walk the rows and at each summer squash, including zucchini, I examine the base of the plant, looking for the borer’s red eggs and looking for the wet saw-dust-looking stuff they push out of their holes. Haven’t found any so this year.