The Q&A Archives: Mildew Resistant Zucchini

Question: I have a small back yard which is totally garden. But I still don't have room to rotate crops much. Each years I grow tomatos, peppers, zucchini, corn & beans. My zucchini always have powdery mildew problems - even after I've enriched the soil for good drainage and water only on mornings, avoiding wetting the leaves. Last year I moved them to the sunniest spot which also gets the best late afternoon sun and I planted them in tires. I have used tires for my tomatos for years both to increase the evening temperature from heat stored in the black rubber and to better control the watering. The zucchini plants were higher up off off the ground and I only watered in the tire so the ground around the tire stayed dry. The plants did better than previous years but still had mildew problems. I thought I had read once about a strain of zucchini - possibly a more compact plant - but I have never found it for sale as seeds or plants. Also, I bought a spray with copper in it to try this year at the first sign of mildew.

Answer: Powdery mildew thrives when nights are cool and damp so increasing air circulation in your garden will help prevent the problem. You can also pick off infected leaves as soon as you notice there's a problem.

Two varieties you might consider growing are Spacemiser and Tipo. Both were developed for short-growing season areas, so they require less heat than other summer squashes, and they ripen in only 55 days. Spacemiser is a compact growing plant, and Tipo comes from Switzerland, where the season is really short.

Seeds are available from Territorial Seeds, PO Box 157, Cottage Grove, OR 97424-0061.

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