Thursday 6 August 2015

August Update on Cucurbits: Part One

I have had a very rough go this year with the pumpkins and squash (both winter and summer).  First, I rushed into planting them too early in May during a wonderful warm spell then got hit with a late frost.  I covered all of the plants during the frost and I managed to save 2/3 of what I had planted (which was quite a lot).  Then I got a nasty infestation of cucumber beetles which managed to take down quite a few of the already weak plants.  The beetles mostly infected the summer squash, but also many of the pumpkins.

Several weeks of neem oil treatment and some manual picking of the bugs off the plants has made a considerable difference.  I still see cucumber beetles on some of the plants but those plants that survived seem to be strong enough and large enough to handle it (but I'll keep doing the neem oil treatments and pick off bugs when I see them).  I also have a lot of squash bugs but they don't seem to do as much damage.

I lost almost all of the pumpkin plants, and the watermelon and Hale's melon plants are growing but I've seen no fruit forming yet and are likely too small to produce anything in the short growing season I have here.  So here is a summary of what I have left.

crazy crowded 3 sisters garden

In the three sisters garden space (NW of my yard), I planted the Marina di Chiogga, as well as spaghetti, butternut and acorn squash.  There is no evidence of acorn anywhere in this garden.  I have one spaghetti squash almost ready to harvest ... a good thing as it started much higher up on a stalk of corn and has slowly been dropping further towards the ground.  I probably should have managed the vines better so they didn't go up the corn.

I have two very different looking Marina di Chiogga - one seems close to harvest but I've never grown these before so I'll have to do some research.

I have two that have this lighter colouring

And finally some evidence of butternut.  I really struggled with germination and had several to plant but I think I lost most of them in the frost.  Not sure if this one will have time to get to full size but I'll take what I can get.

If it is not obvious, I'll point out that I seem to have, at best, one or two squash per plant.  A pretty crappy yield rate but at least I'm getting something!!

NE space

The next garden (NE of my yard) was also dedicated to Cucurbits including more spaghetti squash, acorn squash as well as the watermelon and Hale's melon that I previously mentioned.  Due to the large numbers of squash bugs that I had last year, I decided to put LOTS of marigolds and nasturtiums with the squash in this area in order to attract them away from the veggie plants. I may have overdone it as I planted dozens of them and they are all getting quite large and threatening to overtake the garden space (but are working very well at attracting the bugs).

Marigolds down centre, not yet in bloom
but covered in squash bugs
One (or two?) of several nasturtium!

The two spaghetti squash harvested this past Monday (one 5-pounder!) came from this area (probably the same plant), and I have another one growing here.  That little yellow flower behind it is from the watermelon plant.

I also have two acorn squash.

And then there is this mystery squash which I haven't quite figured out what it is yet.

And that's the first part covering my two "dug" gardens containing squash. Stay tuned for part two covering the hay bale plants!


  1. Boy you sure did plant a lot of squash! You still have so much happening and lots of potential squash coming on, even in spite of all the casualties. My butternut squash looks about the same size as yours & I'm really hoping that it does size up as that will be the only winter squash I get.

    Every year we seem to have that one big issue in the garden...or two...or three....there never will be the perfect garden year & we just have to roll with the punches I guess.

    1. Yes, I guess that's the challenge of organic gardening - it's not easy finding plants that don't have some sort of inherent problem (pests, diseases). But I suppose that's why it's so exciting and satisfying when things work out well every now and then!

  2. I have a few squash set right now, but I know it will be later when most of them set. I still haven't seen an open flower on my Upper Ground Sweet Potato squash. It had better set at least one and be good because it is such a PITA of a plant. Butternuts are easier to deal with.

    1. I really can't believe how early I am harvesting. I guess I started early and the conditions have been good. LOL, I had to look up the acronym PITA ... I should know that by now. :)

  3. I'm pretty sure the second "Marina di Chioggia" is probably Sweet Dumpling squash.

    1. Oh geez, thanks!! I totally forgot that I planted Sweet Dumpling, that is definitely what it is. Oof, I really need to keep better track of my plants.