Vegetables and Fruit forum: Squash and Zucchini Help Needed

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Saint Louis, Missouri
jshank83
Jul 2, 2017 7:00 PM CST
I need some help with my spaghetti Squash and Zucchini. They are growing really well. but once they start to fruit the fruit will just stop growing and dry up. The situation is different with both. They should be getting plenty of sun and plenty of water. My sprinklers water them every morning. It has been really hot here (St. Louis), highs in the 80s and 90s, thus why I am watering often.

As a side note, my tomatoes are doing amazing, peppers started off slow but are doing pretty well now. (incase that tells you anything)

First off, Spaghetti Squash. It took off fast. I went away for a week and it grew up a bush over my fence and into a neighbors tree. It has 3 vines. One is at least 8 feet long, another is probably 6 and the 3rd is 2 to 3 feet long. There are a few places in near the base the look like they are cracked. The base of it has discolored some and some of the leaves have died off. I don't know if this is normal after it grows out for a long distance. The vines look in good shape. I attached pics of the fruit (one is when they first show up and one is after it has been there a day or two). They are reversed in the pics. It has had lots of flowers. They look good at first then just shrivel up and fall off.

Any tips to fix would be appreciated. Maybe I am watering too much? I didn't think that would make them die off though.
Thumb of 2017-07-03/jshank83/18bd76


Thumb of 2017-07-03/jshank83/f277a0


Next, Zucchini. I don't have pics. I can get them if needed. The plant looks really good. Nowhere on it looks like it is having issues. The fruit starts out strong. It will get to 4 inches or so then just kind of quit growing. The end near the flower starts to turn white then almost look like it is rotting. I had one that got moldy, but It was under the plant being pushed into the dirt by the weight of the plant, so I figured that had something to do with it. I know tomatoes get blossom end rot. Maybe zucchini do also? The plant probably has about 8 or so small ones on it at the moment in various stages. I have noticed ants crawling on the plant.

Again, is it too much water? I can cut back if needed. I was under the impression they need a lot of water. My sprinklers are the landscape spray type and run for about 10-15 minutes a day. All these are in raised beds that do not have liners underneath so the roots can go as deep as they want.

Thanks for any help you can give. This is my first year growing both of these. It is also the first year I have not been held to only using pots.
Name: stone
near Macon Georgia (USA) (Zone 8a)
Plant Identifier Garden Sages Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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stone
Jul 2, 2017 7:49 PM CST
Looks like pollination issues.
Do you have any flower beds nearby?

Hand pollination is possible, but really should be seen as a bad choice.

I wouldn't water daily.
All that shallow watering means that the plants are discouraged from sending out roots in search of moisture and nutrients.
Saint Louis, Missouri
jshank83
Jul 2, 2017 9:24 PM CST
stone said:Looks like pollination issues.
Do you have any flower beds nearby?

Hand pollination is possible, but really should be seen as a bad choice.

I wouldn't water daily.
All that shallow watering means that the plants are discouraged from sending out roots in search of moisture and nutrients.


There are flowers around but none really close. Not in big bunches at least. If the fruit is already growing wouldn't that mean it pollinated okay though?

I'll back off the watering. Thanks.
Name: stone
near Macon Georgia (USA) (Zone 8a)
Plant Identifier Garden Sages Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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stone
Jul 3, 2017 12:24 AM CST
jshank83 said:
There are flowers around but none really close. Not in big bunches at least. If the fruit is already growing wouldn't that mean it pollinated okay though?

I'll back off the watering. Thanks.


I'm not seeing the fruit growing in the posted pictures.
I ensure plenty of pollinator activity by interplanting rows of flowers among the veggies....
And....
Eventually, we start learning the butterfly host plants, and leaving those, too.

As more and more of us are surrounded by turf, keeping "weeds" becomes essential.
Those pollinators don't survive on turf.
Only critters that get any benefit from a lawn are Japanese beetles and cinch bugs. They don't do much pollinating.
Name: Yardenman
Maryland (Zone 7a)
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Yardenman
Jul 3, 2017 1:49 AM CST
I'll go with Stone on the pollination issues. Squash are so prolific in one sense that people don't plant enough of them. Them planting a couple means they don't cross-pollinate. It is feast or famine with them.

Plant a couple, and you won't get any; plant 6 and you drown in them. LOL!
Ontario, Canada (Zone 6a)
Bulbs Seed Starter Native Plants and Wildflowers
Phenolic
Jul 3, 2017 6:31 AM CST
stone said:

I'm not seeing the fruit growing in the posted pictures.


@stone: @jshank83 might be confusing the flower ovaries with fruit, which only form if pollination is successful and it doesn't abort.
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Birds Garden Ideas: Master Level Butterflies Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Roses Photo Contest Winner: 2016
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Newyorkrita
Jul 3, 2017 11:06 AM CST
The squash have both male and female flowers. To set fruit those female flowers need to be pollinated. The male flowers simply have the flower on a smooth stem while those female flowers have a small fruit in that stem directed next to the flower. But without pollination it shrivels up and dies. Exactly what is happening to you.

If you only have afew flowers you can pollinate yourself. Simply break off an open male flower and smoosch it around in a open female flower. It is easy to do. Early morning is best.

On the base of your Spaghetti Squash showing discoloration and cracks, it sounds like Squash Vine Borer damage. Not much you can do.

Snowshoe
Jul 3, 2017 4:04 PM CST
Newyorkrita said:The squash have both male and female flowers. To set fruit those female flowers need to be pollinated. The male flowers simply have the flower on a smooth stem while those female flowers have a small fruit in that stem directed next to the flower. But without pollination it shrivels up and dies. Exactly what is happening to you.

If you only have a few flowers you can pollinate yourself. Simply break off an open male flower and smoosch it around in a open female flower. It is easy to do. Early morning is best.


I agree with Rita. Get to know the difference between male and female flowers. It's very easy. Also you may be getting all or most of one gender flower and not the other the first few weeks of a squash plant (this happens both with zuchs and winter squash). Also look closely at the male flowers. If it's late morning or afternoon you shouldn't see any pollen left on the male flower. The bees should have gotten it all. The pollen on my male squash flowers is usually mostly gone by 8AM although the bees will still be flying around trying to get every last bit.

Also go out in the early morning and look for bees. They should be busy all around the flowers. If not, then definitely hand pollinate. It's not that difficult and plenty of info online (recommend a search using google images). I prefer using a small artist paintbrush to gather the pollen from the male flower stamen and then "painting" it on the female stigma (at least I think those are the right terms). That way you are assured good pollination. You can do this for summer squash (e.g. zuchs) or winter squash (e.g. spaghetti).

I use this method to pollinate squash used for seed saving. You generally do this to avoid getting a cross pollinated squash when you're growing several different varieties in the same garden. You can even get cross-pollination between summer and winter squash. So say you wanted to save your seeds from your spaghetti squash. You pollinate the female flower from a male spaghetti squash flower , then use a clothespin to seal the female flower so that the bees don't pollinate it with pollen from another type of squash. You can even get cross pollination from a neighbors garden since the bees are going everywhere.

The hardest part, which is not all that hard, is that you also have to recognize when the female flower is about to open. Once you know this, the night before the flower opens you clamp it with a clothespin to prevent it from opening so the bees don't get to it before you do. Then in the morning, the flower will open as soon as you remove the clothespin. Then you pollinate and seal up the female flower. It may sound complicated but it's really not. You can also use a clothespin on the male flower to make sure the bees don't get all the pollen before you do.

I used to do this all the time not only to get pure seeds, but I also purposely cross pollinated some varieties and it was fun to see what kind of squash you got the next year from the saved seeds. My favorite was cross-pollinating Buttercup and Sweet Meat squash. Depending on who pollinated who, I named the resulting seeds Buttersweet and Sweet Butter.

Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Birds Garden Ideas: Master Level Butterflies Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Roses Photo Contest Winner: 2016
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Newyorkrita
Jul 3, 2017 5:24 PM CST
Snowshoe said:

I agree with Rita. Get to know the difference between male and female flowers. It's very easy. Also you may be getting all or most of one gender flower and not the other the first few weeks of a squash plant (this happens both with zuchs and winter squash). Also look closely at the male flowers. If it's late morning or afternoon you shouldn't see any pollen left on the male flower. The bees should have gotten it all. The pollen on my male squash flowers is usually mostly gone by 8AM although the bees will still be flying around trying to get every last bit.

Also go out in the early morning and look for bees. They should be busy all around the flowers. If not, then definitely hand pollinate. It's not that difficult and plenty of info online (recommend a search using google images). I prefer using a small artist paintbrush to gather the pollen from the male flower stamen and then "painting" it on the female stigma (at least I think those are the right terms). That way you are assured good pollination. You can do this for summer squash (e.g. zuchs) or winter squash (e.g. spaghetti).

I use this method to pollinate squash used for seed saving. You generally do this to avoid getting a cross pollinated squash when you're growing several different varieties in the same garden. You can even get cross-pollination between summer and winter squash. So say you wanted to save your seeds from your spaghetti squash. You pollinate the female flower from a male spaghetti squash flower , then use a clothespin to seal the female flower so that the bees don't pollinate it with pollen from another type of squash. You can even get cross pollination from a neighbors garden since the bees are going everywhere.

The hardest part, which is not all that hard, is that you also have to recognize when the female flower is about to open. Once you know this, the night before the flower opens you clamp it with a clothespin to prevent it from opening so the bees don't get to it before you do. Then in the morning, the flower will open as soon as you remove the clothespin. Then you pollinate and seal up the female flower. It may sound complicated but it's really not. You can also use a clothespin on the male flower to make sure the bees don't get all the pollen before you do.

I used to do this all the time not only to get pure seeds, but I also purposely cross pollinated some varieties and it was fun to see what kind of squash you got the next year from the saved seeds. My favorite was cross-pollinating Buttercup and Sweet Meat squash. Depending on who pollinated who, I named the resulting seeds Buttersweet and Sweet Butter.



Excellent information well explained!! Thumbs up
Saint Louis, Missouri
jshank83
Jul 4, 2017 5:02 PM CST
Thanks for all the answers. I thought the green baby watermelon (I know that isn't a technical answer) looking thing in the second picture was the squash starting to grow. So, I thought they meant it got pollinated correctly. I guess I was mistaken.

I am attaching 2 zucchini pics also. They might be having the same issue. This is about as big as they get before they start turning yellow and stop doing anything. I think a couple might be doing better now though. So we will see what happens. I will try to post pics of the actual plants later.

I have been running sprinklers around 6 am. I wonder if that has kept bees away?

Thumb of 2017-07-04/jshank83/85624f

Thanks again for the tips.
Name: Mac
Soon to be MidCoast, ME (Zone 6a)
Ex zones 4b, 8b, 9a, 9b
Cat Lover Birds Hummingbirder Butterflies Frogs and Toads Vermiculture
Critters Allowed Vegetable Grower Canning and food preservation Annuals Morning Glories Sedums
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McCannon
Jul 4, 2017 5:35 PM CST
@jshank83, Welcome! . We live across the river from you, in metro-east farm country. We grew summer and winter squash this year along with zucchini. We had had a good crop and no problems with pollination. Honeybees are in short supply here but we have bumblebees that are handling the pollination chores. I don't think your early morning watering is disturbing the bees, but I do agree with @stone about shallow watering. We water ours individually with a soaker wand, and only around the base of the plants near the root zone. Rainfall has been very sporadic this year.
The aboriginal people of the world and many other cultures share a common respect for nature and the universe, and all of the life that it holds. We should learn from them!

Snowshoe
Jul 5, 2017 9:48 PM CST
McCannon said:@jshank83, Welcome! . We live across the river from you, in metro-east farm country. We grew summer and winter squash this year along with zucchini. We had had a good crop and no problems with pollination. Honeybees are in short supply here but we have bumblebees that are handling the pollination chores. I don't think your early morning watering is disturbing the bees, but I do agree with @stone about shallow watering. We water ours individually with a soaker wand, and only around the base of the plants near the root zone. Rainfall has been very sporadic this year.


Oh yes, I forgot about the sprinklers. That's not a good idea for several reasons. 1. too shallow of watering as mentioned. 2. It's always recommended to avoid watering the leaves of a plant. Squash is very susceptible to powdery mildew and watering the leaves will pretty much guarantee it. My squash get it even though I use a drip system and live in a dry climate. 3. It's a waste of water since only a small percentage of the water is getting to the roots of the plants. Maybe you're also watering your grass at the same time but it's not good for the plants.

A drip system is generally considered the best although it can be a bit of work setting it up. Once it's setup though it's usually easy to maintain over the years.

And the other thing that squash need a lot of is nitrogen. You might want to research this some too. I use fish emulsion that a master gardener told me that she swears by but there are a lot of options. Now that I just told you not to get the leaves wet, you can actually apply the fish emulsion (or some other type of liquid fertilizer) by spraying the leaves with a diluted solution. You can use a 1-2 gallon sprayer but I just found a hose end sprayer that will actually screw onto the gallon jug of fish emulsion.

One last note. Don't worry if the squash leaves wilt under the hot sun. I admit it's not a good sight but they recover as soon as the sun goes down. When they're wilted you can water them all day long with gallons of water and it's not going to help.
Name: Mac
Soon to be MidCoast, ME (Zone 6a)
Ex zones 4b, 8b, 9a, 9b
Cat Lover Birds Hummingbirder Butterflies Frogs and Toads Vermiculture
Critters Allowed Vegetable Grower Canning and food preservation Annuals Morning Glories Sedums
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McCannon
Jul 5, 2017 9:56 PM CST
And after the plants are happy and producing a lot of squash you get hit with a squash vine borer infestation Grumbling .
The aboriginal people of the world and many other cultures share a common respect for nature and the universe, and all of the life that it holds. We should learn from them!
Name: Yardenman
Maryland (Zone 7a)
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Yardenman
Jul 6, 2017 1:54 AM CST
McCannon said:And after the plants are happy and producing a lot of squash you get hit with a squash vine borer infestation Grumbling .


Separate the squash around the garden and the borers won't find them as easily. Square foot gardening really works.

Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Birds Garden Ideas: Master Level Butterflies Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Roses Photo Contest Winner: 2016
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Newyorkrita
Jul 6, 2017 10:01 AM CST
The SVB have no problems finding the squash here no matter where they are.
Name: Mac
Soon to be MidCoast, ME (Zone 6a)
Ex zones 4b, 8b, 9a, 9b
Cat Lover Birds Hummingbirder Butterflies Frogs and Toads Vermiculture
Critters Allowed Vegetable Grower Canning and food preservation Annuals Morning Glories Sedums
Image
McCannon
Jul 6, 2017 10:26 AM CST
Newyorkrita said:The SVB have no problems finding the squash here no matter where they are.


Exactly! The SVB bugs do know how to fly. We find them on plants other than just cucurbits too.
The aboriginal people of the world and many other cultures share a common respect for nature and the universe, and all of the life that it holds. We should learn from them!
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Birds Garden Ideas: Master Level Butterflies Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Roses Photo Contest Winner: 2016
Image
Newyorkrita
Jul 6, 2017 10:40 AM CST
The first year I ever plant zucchini here SVB moths flew in to find it. None of my neighbors grow squash so I don't know where they flew in from. But they easily found us.

And so it goes, each year now they find us.

I just used the sprinkler can and poured a liquid fish emulsion/seaweed blend fertilizer on all the summer squash plants. I know they like a lot of fertilizer.
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Birds Garden Ideas: Master Level Butterflies Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Roses Photo Contest Winner: 2016
Image
Newyorkrita
Jul 6, 2017 11:40 AM CST
I have to go out and weed now but the entire garden smells like fish and seaweed at low tide. Hilarious! That is what always happens after I put out the liquid fish/seaweed blend fertilizer. Well, the squash plants will love it.
Name: Mac
Soon to be MidCoast, ME (Zone 6a)
Ex zones 4b, 8b, 9a, 9b
Cat Lover Birds Hummingbirder Butterflies Frogs and Toads Vermiculture
Critters Allowed Vegetable Grower Canning and food preservation Annuals Morning Glories Sedums
Image
McCannon
Jul 6, 2017 12:25 PM CST
Newyorkrita said:I put out the liquid fish/seaweed blend fertilizer. Well, the squash plants will love it.


You bet Thumbs up

The aboriginal people of the world and many other cultures share a common respect for nature and the universe, and all of the life that it holds. We should learn from them!

leasee2007
Apr 9, 2018 12:50 PM CST
I have a quick question. I live in Las Vegas and have planted a container garden. I have a spaghetti squash that is doing very well, and have a lot of both female and male flowers. I am trying to do manual pollination, but I don't see any pollen in the male flowers. Is that normal? In all of the pictures, the paintbrush is full of pollen.

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