Ask a Question forum→Why Does My Squash Plant Hate Me?

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Atlanta, Georgia
delanddelakes
May 23, 2020 7:24 PM CST
Hello All,

Pictured is a crookneck squash (from Lowe's) that I planted as a seedling in my raised bed. It was a replacement for a straightneck squash plant that wend sickly and died before that. While it started out fine, before long the new leaves died, the old ones developed these ragged-edged holes, and the vines appear to be splitting. Aside from a single caterpillar, I have never found pests on it, though I do spray it with insecticidal soap. I have done soil tests and tried to adjust to make up for deficiencies (I can provide details if needed). Does anyone know what I'm doing wrong, and should I scrap the plant and start over, or can it be saved?

(Edit: I am trying to post pictures, but the site just will not let me. I will try again later.)
(**Second edit: Pictures posted, see below!)


Thumb of 2020-05-26/delanddelakes/2f579b


Thumb of 2020-05-26/delanddelakes/ff15db


Thumb of 2020-05-26/delanddelakes/ad5839

[Last edited by delanddelakes - May 25, 2020 10:09 PM (+)]
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Milpitas, CA
SoulReaver009
May 23, 2020 8:59 PM CST
When posting pics, I can post 5 pics in a single message. For others is more or less. It might have to do image file size. Try posting 1 pic. And then 2, and then...

I would really like to see the vine splitting. As well as the new and old leaves.

I have a few guesses right now, but pics are the only way to confirm or discard them.

Also, how did you plant it? Did you discard the dirt that it came in? How long have you had the plant? How long until these symptoms showed up? Did you wait to plant it in the ground? Are you growing other plants? Did you see the roots as you did your process of planting it in the ground? What did they look like? What is your watering routine for it? I can tell you my watering routine down the closest half liter of water, and my schedule for my plants. Did you fertilize it? I'm not telling you to fertilize it or implying that you should have, I'm just asking. What kind of insecticide did you use? Roughly, how many hours of sun does it get on a clear day?

I can go on with more questions. The point is... The more info you give, the better chance you give people to eliminate and/or form more concrete and possibly correct theories as to why this is happening. Pretend this is like a doctor's visit. Tell us about the speed bump you hit on the drive home, and be honest about whether you strapped your plant in with a seat belt buckle. Smiling

I don't think squash hates you!
Hope we can help!
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
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DaisyI
May 23, 2020 10:12 PM CST
Are the splits full of brown sawdust?
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

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Atlanta, Georgia
delanddelakes
May 25, 2020 10:22 PM CST
Thanks so much for your reply--I will try to be as thorough as I can here. I did include the soil that came with the seedling when I planted it in the raised bed. (Should I have tried to knock the dirt off the roots first?) If I recall correctly I put it in the raised bed the same day I bought it, April 16. I didn't notice the withered leaves until around May 12, and I did not notice anything special about the roots when I put it in. Nearby I have arugula, radicchio, three acorn squash plants I sowed from seed, beets, and parsnips. All of the aforementioned are still pretty small. I typically water it daily in the late afternoon/early evening once the heat of the day is past (I work nights so early mornings don't work for me.) I have used a small amount of bone meal to feed the plants in the raised bed, on May 16; on the same day I also planted cowpeas around the plant to enrich the nitrogen (which according to my soil test it lacked); I added a small amount of clean coffee grounds for the same reason. (The plant was already doing poorly by this point.) I use Garden Safe Insecticidal Soap, probably about twice or three times a week. The bed does I believe get some shade during part of the day but is mostly in full sun.

I think that's it--I really appreciate your offer to help, and I hope this is informative! Thank you so much!

Atlanta, Georgia
delanddelakes
May 25, 2020 10:23 PM CST
Hi Daisy,

Not that I can see--I definitely don't want to split them open any further to examine. You can now see the vines in the pictures added above. Thank you, I hope this helps!

Milpitas, CA
SoulReaver009
May 26, 2020 8:56 AM CST
Ok. Planting the plant with the soil it came with, is standard procedure. Mostly, you don't want to disturb the roots too much.

I asked you if you could see the roots when you planted it, to see if it was pot bound. It would've been something you noticed, and remembered. Basically the roots would've been going around in a circle along the edge of the planter it came in.

It's not sunburn or water related, as much as I can tell. And it's not fertilizer burn. It's not a problem due to your handling of the plant going into the ground. It doesn't sound like it's potbound, but these aren't pot bound symptoms anyways. I thought it might be sun burn. The pics allowed me to discard that theory. The issue seems to be above ground, pests.

DaisyI asked if you noticed brown saw dust in the split vines to see if squash vine borers were the culprit. Which it looks like it was, and they could come back...

Did you discard some of the main stem? It looks like the plant may have been bigger, than the pics you posted, with more leaves and branched stems. And also looks like something ate it through the main stem, down to the base. Did you discard by hand, or find the stem no longer attached to the plant (lying on the ground)?

And also did you find the caterpillar when you noticed the stem?

Further advice from me is out of my scope. I hope you don't give up, and i hope someone will be along to advise you as to what your options are, going forward.

Good luck, sorry this happened.
Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
The one constant in life is change
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dyzzypyxxy
May 28, 2020 1:33 PM CST
First, am I seeing two plants close together in your picture? Squash are very thirsty, hungry plants so if you put in two that close, they're starving each other.

Just because it's one pot, doesn't mean it's necessarily one plant. Always check pots you buy for more than one plant. If they're small, you can often separate them and transplant with some space. They should be at least two feet apart.

The crispy edges on the large leaves looks like fertilizer burn. Too much fert suddenly on a small plant growing slowly will do that. Soap on the leaves can cause damage, too. It sensitizes them to the sun so they can burn. Your damage looks like mechanical tearing rather than insect action. Always rinse soap off in the mornings, and only spray it on at night, so as not to kill bees and other beneficial bugs.

Not sure on the stem splitting, maybe inconsistent watering? Water deeply every morning if the weather is warm. A lot of water after the plant has been stressed can cause splitting.

For caterpillars, the bane of squash plants in Florida where I live, use a Bt product specifically for caterpillars. If they get going on your plant, it's over pretty much. Bt is organic approved for use on edibles, and targets only the caterpillars so you won't harm your bees and other beneficials. Use it regularly, once or twice a week because it washes off.

Separate the plants, mulch around the remaining one and water regularly in the mornings increasing as the weather heats up. When you see healthy new leaves coming, fertilize weakly at first, then graduation increase as the plant gets bigger.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill

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