Successful Squash Gardening Requires the Right Conditions
If conditions permit, squash vines can yield abundance. Winter squash, if cured and stored properly, can be consumed right through the winter. Summer squash, like zucchini, can get so out of hand that your neighbors might close the blinds and lock the door when they see you coming up the walkway with an armload.
Funny Facebook Photo
We got a few chuckles out of this popular photo shared on Facebook. If you know who originated it, let us know so we can add proper tribute in the caption.
If the Conditions are Right for Good Squash
Of course, the “conditions” need to be there. If you plant right, if the plants are fed and watered right, if they survive the scourges of vine borers, squash bugs, powdery mildew, and mosaics, and if the plant is properly pollinated to produce fruits in quantity, then, you reap the bounty. Miss any of these markers and it could spell disaster, garden dystopia.
Previous newsletters have spot-lighted the squash, pumpkin, and cucumber plants we’ve been nurturing along. We’re doing pretty well in the growth category. And we’re still fending off the dreaded powdery mildew, and squash vine borer (SVB’s) with biological bacteria sprays injections and inspections.
On finding evidence of borers, we’re now carefully slicing the stem to locate the SVB larvae, dispatching the culprit, and covering the slit with dirt and mulch if the vine is on the ground. You can read more about that and other tactics at the link above.
We’ve had a growing concern that there seems to be a lack of fruiting female flowers. It’s like the pollinators are not getting into all the flowers. So a new solution is being tested this past week: heavy pruning of overlapping leaves. As seen in the first photo, we have a very dense canopy of leaves. Reading up on the topic of pruning summer squash plants, we’ve learned the lush, dense coverage could harbor issues like blocking off access to flowers, promoting more fungus issues by blocking air circulation, and offering more hidden places for the bugs to lay eggs and munch out.
So, after running through some online videos and reading several articles on the topic, it made sense to us that pruning crisscrossing leaves, leaves close to the ground, and dead, diseased or dying (DDD’s) leaf material will clean up the plant and open up its growth potential. Up to 30 to 40 % of the leaves can be pruned away. We defoliated around a third.
We forgot to take a “before” photo, so here’s one from GrowVeg that shows what ours looked like before pruning.
Note this radical pruning is for SUMMER SQUASH like zukes and yellow crooknecks. We’ve done this for our zucchinis and our lemon squash. Last year we lost our zucchini to both, vine borers and powdery mildew, so this year we’re doing everything we can to help these babies along.
It just makes sense to reduce the load of what the roots and vines need to feed, so we went on to prune our winter squash plants too, and they look much cleaner and happier for the effort. We’ll see if this will spruce up production a bit.
Winter Squash Plants Before Summer Pruning
The winter squash pruning wasn’t as severe since it’s still early for those crops.
Winter Squash Plants After Summer Pruning
Petrichor: A Fragrance by Any Other Name
The last few weeks of June were very hot and very dry around here. So, what a delight it was to check the rain gauge after yesterday’s storms. One and a quarter inch! June’s precipitation came in about one inch below normal. There’s a word for that distinct smell of rain touching down on earth after a long, hot dry spell–”petrichor”. It’s like the fragrance of Joy!
Along the line of scent-sations, the garden offers up amazing facets of beauty if we take a little time to discover them. Occasionally, we’ll just grab the camera and, with the shutterbug’s point of view, go looking. Here are a few examples.
Perhaps, next time you head out to the garden, grab your phone/camera and have some fun capturing the artistry and design that abounds there. We really dig garden selfies so please share what you capture. Also, we’re especially interested in your approach to pruning squash (summer or winter). You can post comments and/or photos up on our Facebook page, or send us an email.
May your garden flourish and your harvests be bountiful!
~ Coleman for GardensAll.com
Keep on Growing!
G. Coleman Alderson is an entrepreneur, land manager, investor, gardener, and author of the novel, Mountain Whispers: Days Without Sun. Coleman holds an MS from Penn State where his thesis centered on horticulture, park planning, design, and maintenance. He’s a member of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society and a licensed building contractor for 27 years. “But nothing surpasses my 40 years of lessons from the field and garden. And in the garden, as in life, it’s always interesting because those lessons never end!” Coleman Alderson