Tag 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, 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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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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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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Stunted Squash Plants

This spring, with the new garden not being finished on time, I planted my crops at least a month late, and some plants, like this zucchini, were planted weeks later.    The zucchini that I planted ‘only’ a month late grew into very large, healthy plants.  This even later zuch, along with all the yellow summer squash that I planted even later, never fully grew.   Interestingly, all of these super-late squash were stunted.   This 8 Ball did grow big enough to produce at least one fruit.  Look at all of those male bloom on this plant.

yellow edges on squash leaves

I am totally fascinated with these late plantings being stunted.  They just never grew big enough before the extreme heat and drought arrived.   This is a hybrid 8 Ball zucchini from Twilley seeds, usually a very strong and large plant.

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Overview – From July 10

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.
overview july 10

I need to get the garden in on time next spring.

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Squash and Zucchini

Because of out move, the entire garden was put in a month late. This has resulted in several issues.  Some of the plants didn’t mature enough before the heat – and some plants are actually stunted.  I didn’t get enough production out of the plants before the heat and drought hit.  You can see the powdery mildew on these leaves.  This zucchini is a Grey Zucchini – an heirloom that is one of my favorite zucchinis.
grey zucchini closeup

This is an overview of a row of Patty Pan summer squash.  The plants are strong and large with plenty of  baby buds along the stems.  It is almost ready to produce.  This pic was taken 2 weeks ago and we have had a week of rain that has taken its toll on the vegetable garden by spreading powdery mildew.  These yellow squash are susceptible to the mildew.   I have yet to harvest a Patty Pan squash out of this garden.  The variegated squash leaves in front of the cattle panel are some hybrid butternut varieties planted to grow up the panels.

grey zucchini

This is a closeup of some of the yellow summer squash plants.  There are plenty of buds along the strong stems and a burst of baby leaves and buds at the growing tip.  Hope these plants live to produce what looks so promising on them.  You can see the powdery mildew splotches on surrounding leaves.

yellow crookneck squash

This is a Cocozella  heirloom zucchini, one of my 2 favorite heirloom zukes.  Notice the thick leaf mulch under the plants.

cocozella zucchini

Another closeup of a Cocozella heirloom zucchini.  The mature leaves show the ravishes of powdery mildew.

cocozella zucchini

A closeup of some hybrid zucchini plants.  You can see an Obsidian zuke on the plant in the front right side.  Overall, these were fairly strong plants that produced well – because the were planted before the rest of the zukes and squash.

obsidian zucchini

These are my first 2 Waltham Butternut winter squash.  The little one on on the left is no longer with us – it must have died and fallen off when I wasn’t looking.  Usually Walthams do better than this bunch has done – but they are also usually planted a month earlier than I planted these.  There are, though, many buds on these vines.  Overall, Walthams are somewhat resistant to powdery mildew, although I am seeing it on some Waltham Butternut leaves.  I planted seeds from several sources and am assuming that all Waltham Butternuts are open pollinated unless other wise stated, meaning that all of these Walthams should be very similar.

waltham butternut

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Four Varieties of Zucchini

This year I grew 4 varieties of zucchini.  The long, dark green zuch by the ruler is a hybrid Obsidian from Twilley Seeds, as is the long zuch on the right side of the pic.  The round zuch is an 8 Ball, also from Twilley.  My favorite zuchs are the Cocozilla heirloom – it is the long, crook necked striped zuch in the middle and the Grey zuch, the spotted one at the bottom, right above the yellow squash.  The yellow squash is a summer crookneck.  I didn’t pay attention to what plant I harvested it from so I can’t get specific on it’s name.
4 types of zucchini

This 8 Ball should have been harvested sooner – I suspect that it will be somewhat pithy when cut open.

The 2 heirloom zucchinis, Grey and Cocozella, are having powdery mildew problems.  The other hybrid  zucchini appear to be somewhat resistant to powdery mildew.  I am having powdery mildew issues with a number of my yellow summer squash.

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