Need help saving cucumber plants

MrBo1010(7)June 22, 2011

A little bit of history first...

1) About 20 days ago one of my 3 cucumber plants had gone limp and I noticed a small slit or two towards the base of the stem. I tried bandaging the wound with pieces of a toilet paper roll taped around it, then tied it up to a nearby bamboo stake, and fortunately it made a full recovery.

2) A week or so later I noticed a grub of some sort crawling around nearby, so after doing away with him I added some similar defenses around the base of the other two plants.

3) Until this morning I had only seen 1 striped cucumber beetle hanging out around the plants, and unfortunately he escaped. This morning I saw and successfully squashed 3, 2 of which were on the cucs and 1 that was upstairs on the deck, probably attracted by the yellow flowers of the sugar baby watermelons I'm growing in containers.

So anyways, this morning I notice that 2 of the 3 plants have the same familiar slits towards the base, but also that they do not appear to be flowering anymore and that a lot of growth (it seems to be a mix of old and new) is yellowing, including baby cucs (though older ones near picking size seem fine). Here are some pics:

First question... any idea what could possibly be causing this? Striped cucumber beetle larvae? Other insects? Weather (nothing out of the ordinary lately)? Bad luck?

Secondly... any hope of saving these guys? The toilet paper roll trick worked the first time, but the damage is a lot more significant this time. I've also seen that burying the stem all the way up to the slits may work, as well as sulfur powder for tomato plants.

Any suggestions would be much appreciated. Cucumbers are easily one of my favorite summer vegetables to grow.

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The Squash Vine Borer will also lay eggs on Cucumbers and the larva will bore into that plants stems. Slit the stems to locate the larva and kill it then bury the stems in the soil and they will root there.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2011 at 12:54PM
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I'm just not sure I see the evidence for SVB. The slits do not seem deep enough for something to have actually crawled inside the stem, there aren't the typical holes and frass associated with SVB's (like this:, plus I'm out in the garden at least twice daily and have never seen any form of SVB, and I have 4 squash/zucchini plants nearby that I'm assuming they would prefer.

Of course if I'm wrong then I guess the plants are pretty much screwed, but I'm trying to stay optimistic.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2011 at 5:05PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

My vines do that once in a while and, fortunately, we don't have the nasty vine borer hereabouts.

But the other maladies weren't caused by the slit. The problems with the shriveled cukes is lack of pollination.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2011 at 11:56PM
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Pollination is a problem, but I think the main problem is that no flowering is even taking place to begin with.

Interesting update on the situation - I mentioned that until yesterday I had only seen 1 striped cucumber beetle, and then killed 3 in the morning... well I went out on my nightly slug hunt last night and ended up squashing about 10-12 more SCB's, 6 of which were coupled up and going at it on the leaves. Rest assured I busted in like a disapproving father and brought an end to their shenanigans. No signs of any eggs this morning, and only one more single beetle seen/squashed.

SCB damage to the leaves seems very minimal... no wilting going on, but still no flowering :/

    Bookmark   June 23, 2011 at 8:56AM
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