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In the garden: Squash in search of lost time

The first squash flowers (July 18), from flats, after the horrible and disheartening episode of the lethal sea food compost that killed all my seeds. They have a lot of catching up to do!

So, again, we'll hope for a long, long Indian summer. I was originally going to enclose that bed with a climbing structure for them, but I doubt they will get that far. But maybe they will try to make up for the late start with frantic speed.

Encouragingly, there is already a honey bee deep in the flower. Less encouragingly, I see two cucumber beetles (yellow and black stripes). Even less encouragingly, I see the signs of powdery mildew collecting along the veins of the leaves. Normally, that only happens with leaves four times this size, and with the vines having taken over half the garden.

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nippersdad's picture
Submitted by nippersdad on

Are those squash or cucumbers? Anyway, generally cucurbits grow, fruit and die incredibly fast so you should be able to get at least one more crop on top of this one if you were to plant now. We are already harvesting pumpkins, and they are far slower to ripen than either squash or cucumbers. As an aside, they all grow far more easily from seed than they do from starter plants, no transplant shock to slow them down; that really is a racket.

Cucumber beetles are a problem, however. Short of nuking them, handpicking after the plant blooms is really the only option that I know of. New plants, however, can be covered with screening to protect them. Also, too, that is a crop which benefits from rotation. Most of the beetles that overwinter lay their eggs in the soil, so if you plant twenty plus feet away every year they quickly get confused and die. Ultimately, no beetles!

Powdery mildew is a fungus, which calls for some kind of garden sulphur dusted on them. Shouldn't take long to fix that if you so choose.

nippersdad's picture
Submitted by nippersdad on

.......Actually, you might try spraying your beetles with soap, that might help, give 'em diarrhea and lose their will to live......many suckers and all chewers hate that stuff.

Submitted by lambert on

Are you sure I could get another crop in?

Until two years ago, I had grown exclusively from seed but this year my killer mulch killed the seeds, and I was afraid I couldn't get them started in time. And the previous year, I totally fucked my plastic jugs system, so went to flats for the same reason. I never had either cucumber beetles or squash bugs when I started from seed. And this year, I did rotate.

On the powdery mildew, I think I've got sulfur. I have sprayed with milk in the past, too.

Soap sounds like a good idea. I don't have the time to be handpicking, or I'm too lazy. Whichever!

nippersdad's picture
Submitted by nippersdad on

I think you could definitely get in at least one more crop of squash this year. They only take a month to bear and, even in Maine, it is early days yet.

It sounds like those flats may have imported your beetle eggs, which is odd because nurseries almost have to use sterilized medium in their operations. Could they have come from somewhere else? Did you bring in some topsoil? Another rotation should take care of the problem next year; that works pretty well.

Soap makes a good surfactant! When you spray your sulphur you might add a little dishwashing soap to help it stick. Two birds with one stone, so to speak. The milk idea sounds interesting, what is the rationale? Does it smell, attract flies?

nippersdad's picture
Submitted by nippersdad on

That is really interesting; I need to try it, especially insofar as it does not smell if one uses non fat milk. Smells tend to bring in a tornado of wildlife around here.....