all male squash/zucchini

atl_veggieJanuary 20, 2012

the last 3 years - that is as long as I had a veggie garden just north of Atlanta - most of my squash and zucchini had only male blossoms

when they displayed one of their rare female blossoms the fruit wilted or turned brown and mushy at less than the size of my pinky

any ideas why?

or how I could avoid this and for a change harvest some squash and zucchini this year?


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Hey there -- I'm responding -- not with answers, per se, but more to share....

I, too, have had some horrible zucchini years. Typically, my problems are squash bugs. They bore into the vines and into the fruit and generally drive me insane. Last summer I had squash bugs, powdery mildew AND the wilty, shrively, mushy fruit. I got it all.

I remember reading somewhere -- probably on here -- that there is something you can do with TIMING. Plant the seeds too early, and you will get the bugs. But if you plant later in the season, their life cycle is over, or something.

Not sure if the timing of planting would help your issue or not.

As for all male plants, I had this happen one year. The next year, I just planted more, so the odds were better. That helped.

In my zucchini growing experience (trying for 15 years) I've just had to accept that I'm never going to have a great crop.... I'll be lucky to get a couple weeks of zucchini before SOMETHING destroys the plants. If the timing is right, I've been able to pull out all the yucky plants and start over. Our growing season is so long, we get more than one chance at it.

And -- don't you think it's funny that there are all these anecdotes of people who have zucchini coming out the ears? So much that they are leaving bags or produce on neighbors' doorsteps??? Don't I wish!!!!!

Good luck to you!

    Bookmark   January 20, 2012 at 11:06AM
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susancol(7 Atlanta)

Ok: Zuchini strategies from one who has learned the hard way. First Zuch works better for me than yellow squash because it grows faster!
Problem #1 rotted tiny fruits. This happens when your female blossom (the one with the fruit attached) doesn't get pollenated. So, you go out in the morning when the blossoms are open. Pluck a likely male (no fruit) blossom and remove all the petals, leaving only the stamen. Use the stamen to brush the pistols of the female blossom. You want to get the yellow pollen grains from the male to the female center bits. Yup. Squash sex. Be an enabler and you'll get healthy lovely squash.
Problem #2 the dreaded SVB. Squash vine borer. These are the larva of a moth that burrows into the stem of the squash plant and eats it from the inside out. There are many methods to try, but what works best for me is the panty hose trick. Once your squash plant has a stem that has gotten to be about a foot long or more. Cut the leg out of a pair of panty hose. Use that to wrap the stem all the way up. Does this keep the bug out? NO! But what it does do is holds the stem together longer and keeps the moisture in. Usually the svb eats enough of the stem for it to fall apart. Thus water can't get from the roots to the rest of the plant and it wilts and dies. So the pantyhose helps that problem. The plant will still die eventually, but I usually keep getting one squash at a time from it most of the summer. By mid August, I often give up watering due to the excessive heat anyways.
Problem #3: Powdery Mildew. There is a copper based spray that you can use which helps. If you'r totally organic, there are some organic options. The milk or baking soda thing doesn't work that well. Mostly you should try to avoid having the leaves wet. Spray early and regularly. then promptly remove any leaves off of the plant that have any spots of it on there, because it spreads. Take those infected leaves far away from the plant. Do this and your plant will hang on til August or so and by then the SVB will be a bigger problem than the powdery mildew.
you can try to plant two rounds if you want. Use the same techniques. Do NOT bother to try to wait until after the bug cycle however. We lucky Georgians get TWO rounds of SVB cycle.

As to winter squash, in case you want to know, the only ones I've ever been successful with are a mini butternut called Metro sold by Johnny's cause it grows fast enough to get some before the bugs get the plant. And tromboncino rampicante, which is a long necked Italian butternut type. Butternuts in general have a solid instead of hollow stem. So that's why they are less susceptible to the bugs. But then the Powdery Mildew gets em instead.

Hope my experiences will be of help to you! Happy Squash Ladies!

    Bookmark   January 27, 2012 at 12:52PM
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Thanks from me -- even though I'm not the one who asked the initial question.

I have kids who won't eat anything green. I make these little rock-like chocolate muffins that have pumpkin and bran and wheat germ in them. Very healthy.

Last year, I used my pesticide free zucchini in them. I peeled about 4 zucchini and chopped up the PEELINGS in a blender with the oil needed.

Now the muffins are even healthier! ( shhhhhh -- don't tell!) I'm sort of leery of using zucchini from the store -- I imagine they have lots of pesticides on them. If I can get a few extra out of the garden this year, I'll be thrilled!

Thanks again! :)

    Bookmark   January 27, 2012 at 7:38PM
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