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Where are my squash?

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Where are my squash?

Post  Marc Iverson on 8/29/2013, 12:33 am

Two butternut, two zucchini, five patty pan squashes planted. Total harvested: one zucchini. What gives?

Okay, so I looked up youtube videos and pictures of male vs female flowers in the effort to hand-pollinate, and it seems I've had virtually nothing but male flowers all season. I did have a few failed zucchini, so there were at least some female flowers.

But many if not most of my flowers didn't even open, be they male or female. I pulled open a few of the flowers and found them completely stuffed with earwigs, but not every flower has had that.

Any ideas why my failure to grow squashes is so thorough and complete? Is it at all normal to have virtually no female flowers?

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Re: Where are my squash?

Post  sanderson on 8/29/2013, 2:45 am

Marc,

I think it is Mother Nature's Rite-of-Passage for Newbies.  I got 1 cucumber, 1 straight-neck yellow squash, 1 zucchini, and 2 slightly curved cantaloupes.  Mother Nature throws us a bone with tomato plants; we can usually get a few tomatoes to keep up our spirits.

First we have to find out they have separate male and female flowers.  If there are no bees, then we have to hand pollinate. Fine with the bigger squash flowers but cucumbers and cantaloupe have tiny flowers.  We either get open females or open males, but not at the same time!  Then the bugs come!  You had earwigs.  I had aphids and ant shepherds.  I swear the ants carried the squash pollen back to the nests!  Then we break down and buy artist brushes at the end of the season. I have removed most of these heart-breaking plants for fall planting.

But we will not be broken!  No!  Our eyes are glassy from reading this Forum.  Our Bookmarks have doubled, if not tripled.  We drool over scrap lumber, worms, and every every rotten cull.  We stalk Starbucks. We become hoarders of things we would have tossed in the garbage a few months ago without a second thought. Our neighbors are worried because we are in the garden every night with a flashlight.

We are hooked on SFG!

A toast to your zucchini!  

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Re: Where are my squash?

Post  Marc Iverson on 8/29/2013, 2:39 pm

Well, thanks for making me feel better, Sanderson.

I wish there were something concrete I was doing wrong so I could correct it. That's a fair amount of squash planted to get one lousy zucchini! I was really, really looking forward to those squash, and now I am seriously considering not planting squash again. They take up so much room and their output appears to be pretty darn volatile, to say the least.

Grrrr ... I really like butternut and patty pan, though ... and their fruits are ridiculously expensive at the store, which is usually one of my prime motivators ...

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Re: Where are my squash?

Post  sanderson on 8/29/2013, 3:03 pm

Squash: If you try growing vertical, they are only 1 sq ft each. I'm going to give it another try. Just finished removing the last aphid-nasty squash and cucumber.

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Re: Where are my squash?

Post  grownsunshine on 8/29/2013, 3:18 pm

Sanderson - I am cracking up. You're a poet!! I totally relate to all of it! "...our neighbors are worried because we are in our garden every night with a flashlight." I use my cell phone, EVERY NIGHT!...lol.

Marc - I'm feeling for you. For all the work I've done this year as a newbie, I got 2 cucumbers, 0 beef steak tomatoe (the ones I got had holes), 5-6 cherry tomatoes, 3 zucchinis and some chilies. THAT'S IT!!! And I know I spent probably $500 or so on building my garden - soil, pvc, water tubes, conduit trellis, fencing, vermiculite, plants, water barrels, worm bins, etc. The thing is, my plants are teasing me with hope, a couple of more flowers here and there, I read on "glassy eyed"...so I work on with the belief that I know how to get my plants to be more productive in the future. As Sanderson said, "Mother Nature's Rite-of-Passage for Newbies." I read "What are you eating from your garden today?" or whatever that thread is called, and am so jealous of the pics. I think I planted the bare minimum as I"m learning and growing. I know know better that I really need to at least double the number of plants I'm growing. I have the space/boxes in my current garden. Marc - I've read your postings and I know you must be close to a more productive season. You've acquired the knowledge. I think things will go your way soon.


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Re: Where are my squash?

Post  CapeCoddess on 8/29/2013, 3:30 pm

@grownsunshine wrote:Sanderson - I am cracking up. You're a poet!! I totally relate to all of it!  
I could have written that, grown, but you beat me to it. This whole thread has me laughing but only so I don't cry. This is year 2 for me and I planted about 20 zukes & crooknecks and got zero. A 2nd 2 inch patty pan is waiting to be harvested, and I've eaten one 6 inch not quite completely ripe butternut which I got from 12 plants.

Not being able to grow zucchini, or any other squash, in New England is Embarassed .

BUT, let me tell you about my maters... What a Face 

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Re: Where are my squash?

Post  Nicola on 8/29/2013, 10:12 pm

I am still waiting for my eggplant plant to offer up even ONE flower! I have 1 tiny pepper on one of my 3 different pepper plants (I think the frying pepper[s] I planted for Ma.) And this is my 3rd or 4th year at SFG'ing. This, for me, is a rather ho-hum year gardening. 
Nothing spectacular, but I persevere! 
As 
@sanderson wrote:But we will not be broken! 

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Re: Where are my squash?

Post  camprn on 8/29/2013, 10:19 pm

Some years are better than others for different veggies. Last year was a bumper crop of tomatoes and aubergine, this year not so much. This year, a bumper crop of peppers...... go figure.

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Re: Where are my squash?

Post  Goosegirl on 8/29/2013, 11:17 pm

@camprn wrote:Some years are better than others for different veggies. Last year was a bumper crop of tomatoes and aubergine, this year not so much. This year, a bumper crop of peppers...... go figure.
Agreed.  Here, bumper crop of carrots, onions - not so much...
Tomatoes are doing well, as are peppers.

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Re: Where are my squash?

Post  Marc Iverson on 8/30/2013, 12:33 am

@grownsunshine wrote:Marc - I'm feeling for you. For all the work I've done this year as a newbie, I got 2 cucumbers, 0 beef steak tomatoe (the ones I got had holes), 5-6 cherry tomatoes, 3 zucchinis and some chilies. THAT'S IT!!!
Yikes, I'm feeling for you too, there, grownsunshine. I've had plenty of problems, but it sounds like you've had it worse than me. What a bummer on the tomatoes!

This is year 2 for me and I planted about 20 zukes & crooknecks and got zero. A 2nd 2 inch patty pan is waiting to be harvested, and I've eaten one 6 inch not quite completely ripe butternut which I got from 12 plants.
And for you too, capecoddess! Suddenly my single zucchini from nine assorted squash plants is starting to look like heroic accomplishment!

Jeez, I hope we won't all be telling this same story next year ...

And I know I spent probably $500 or so on building my garden - soil, pvc, water tubes, conduit trellis, fencing, vermiculite, plants, water barrels, worm bins, etc.
The cost thing sometimes gets to me, too. But I'm consoling myself re cost by looking at the positives:

1. Almost everything I bought can be used again or will remain in use until or even through or beyond next season -- pots, buckets, peat, vermiculite, most of my compost and manure will still be viable, most of my seed packets still have seed, sprayers, lots of my plant ties and trellising materials will be good, etc. etc.

2. The only major expense that won't be fully or mostly recoverable was all the transplants I bought. But that's okay; I did get some produce off the majority of them, and the marigolds are still looking pretty. Overall, not much of a loss. And in the future I will be doing a lot more of my growing from seed, cutting down costs significantly.

3. It could have been (and could be in the future) worse! A neighbor has horses and chickens, and I'm getting lots of free poop from her which should make next year's compost much better, and very substantially reduce the cost of getting pots and bags and beds filled or topped off this coming year. Having poopy neighbors is a really lucky cost-cutter!

Overall I'm really having fun with this whole gardening thing, and am now looking forward to planting kale, some more lettuce, radishes, and, come just a bit before spring ... brussels sprouts! I like that there's always a new challenge. And I'm really lucky my older neighbor is letting me use so many of his beds. It gives me room to plant enough to try many things and learn more quickly.

I read "What are you eating from your garden today?" or whatever that thread is called, and am so jealous of the pics.
Arggg! Me too!

I think I planted the bare minimum as I"m learning and growing. I know know better that I really need to at least double the number of plants I'm growing. I have the space/boxes in my current garden.
Mighty as well; whether you double the harvest or double the knowledge by growing different types of veggies, it's almost a no-lose proposition.

Marc - I've read your postings and I know you must be close to a more productive season. You've acquired the knowledge. I think things will go your way soon.
Thanks! I wish you and us all the best! And now that we've faced our challenges this spring and summer, we find ourselves perfectly primed to ... plant for the fall! Woohoo!

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Re: Where are my squash?

Post  sanderson on 8/30/2013, 1:23 am

@Marc Iverson wrote:
And now that we've faced our challenges this spring and summer, we find ourselves perfectly primed to ... plant for the fall!  Woohoo!
That's the spirit!

Can you imagine if we had all been row gardeners?  We would also be writing about the cost of metered water, fertilizers, turning and amending the dirt, the weeds, the backaches, how much space it took for 1 zucchini, 2 crooked carrots and 7 tomatoes, etc.

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Re: Where are my squash?

Post  Triciasgarden on 8/30/2013, 1:19 pm

I know I have had bees visiting my garden in past years but I didn't see very many of them.  This year I have noticed so very many!  I have been wondering why there is such a huge noticeable difference.  The gardens have to be enticing for the bees to find our gardens and then they will keep coming back and bring their families and friends.  My neighbor behind me is growing a vegetable garden this year and got started before me.  I am sure that made some difference.  He probably had some blossoms that brought them in early in the Spring and then they made that habit of visiting his and then later they found mine.  So if they had to wait for the blossoms in my garden, they may have found another yard they liked better and got in the habit of going there instead.

So maybe in the early Spring plant something or a variety of plants and flowers that will bring in the bees.  Going by the drastic difference this year and my pollination level being so much better, it has gotten me thinking of how and why the bees are more attracted this year than last year.  I know we can hand pollinate but if we can get the bees to do it for us, that is so much better I would think.  Maybe that is why some gardens have not produced as well as they should.  It isn't the solution for every case because there are weather factors and other environmental factors that come in to play.

My time also this year is spent more on the garden as opposed to digging out and disposing of cat poo.  Plus the damage the cats did in digging up the seeds and uprooting and burying seedlings and laying on the growing plants didn't help.  I did have to dig out some poo and fix some damage but 9 less cats has made the world of difference.

I did lose a lot of plants but I also had a lot do well.

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Re: Where are my squash?

Post  Marc Iverson on 8/30/2013, 2:17 pm

Pollination issues are why I went looking for bee-attractive perennials. I got an English lavender and three Veronica plants. The lavender can spread invasively, but the nursery told me the Veronica wouldn't. At any rate, both produce flowers that bees love, and I've seen for myself how the bees were swarming the veronica in the nursery like crazy.

I also planted lots of marigolds, though well more than half got eaten by bugs. (So much for them being anti-insect!) I probably have about 20 surviving marigolds at home and more at my neighbor's place. Some have no blossoms, some have five or six. I also got a few nasturtiums, and I'm letting my Bouquet Basil, Sweet Basil, Apple Mint, Thai Basil, Oregano, and Yellow Curry go to seed so they provide many tiny flowers for bees and butterflies. So if I'm not doing my part bee- and butterfly-wise, I'm certainly well on my way. I'd like to plant lots more veronica and lavender next year, and maybe find out what flowers very early, as I understand it's important for bees to have early blooms to sustain them. Later blooms being great, of course, but bees need to eat early in the spring, too.

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Re: Where are my squash?

Post  Triciasgarden on 8/30/2013, 11:37 pm

Every year I plant marigolds.  They start out good, start getting bigger and then get eaten.  I found that earwigs love them!  I didn't bother this.  They don't repel earwigs, lol!  I can't remember what insects they do protect from.  I am surprised that you still have so many marigolds!  I planted nasturtium last year and this year and they didn't make it.  I didn't plant a lot though.

Well I know that everyone on here that has had a hard time with their gardens this year has worked extremely hard, I have read the posts!

Marc your garden must smell so wonderful and your bees are going to thank you clear into winter with their full hives and tummies!  I do need to focus on more flowers like you have done.

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Re: Where are my squash?

Post  Marc Iverson on 8/30/2013, 11:55 pm

Tricia, the only reason I have marigolds is that they kept being on sale, eventually getting to 25 cents a transplant. I transplanted many times!

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Re: Where are my squash?

Post  Triciasgarden on 8/31/2013, 12:42 am

lol! funny post

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Re: Where are my squash?

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 8/31/2013, 1:54 am

You guys made me laugh :-)

I started the thread thinking, "I've had a banner year with my squash, I probably shouldn't mention it" then I read your discussion about flowers drawing in the bees and realized that I added a large amount of flower beds near my veggie gardens this year. The difference between last year and this was significantly increased.

I too have Veronica and Lavender. I have a cut hillside that rises about 10 feet in elevation to the back fence line. I established a raised bed at the bottom of the hill (3 feet wide) and planted the rest of the hill in wild flowers, sunflowers, cosmos, lavender and a bunch of volunteer plants that came up from my compost (honey dew, canteloupe, pumpkin and tomatoes.)

Most of mine are growing vertically. I had 23 spaghetti squash off of 2 plants this summer. 8 butternut off of 1 plant and a bunch of zucchini off of 3 plants. 1/2 of my cucumbers have been dismal, the other Armenian cucumbers were spectacular until the ant and aphids took them down :-(

I just planted some more squash a few weeks ago - depending on how late in November our first freeze comes. Fingers crossed and worst case scenario I'll justify it with "Oh well, they're just seeds!"

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Re: Where are my squash?

Post  Marc Iverson on 8/31/2013, 1:29 pm

Glad you had such success with squash, Audrey. I guess somebody has to!

I'm taking the "Oh well, it's just a seed" attitude with a self-watering container experiment I've put together using a tomato plant. If it grows well, I know my design worked, even if I don't get any fruit from it in time to beat the winter snows.

I'm definitely increasing my flowers next year. Like you, I have a hill right behind my garden. It's pretty steep, so it can't hold beds without major excavation, but I can still clear out some of the more invasive shrub roots and plant plenty of flowers there. That's where the veronicas and lavender will go very soon, as my garden will be turning to leafy winter crops soon and I won't need pollinators right close by. Next year more veronicas and lavenders will be planted from seed or home-grown transplants. They're beautiful enough to make welcome permanent fixtures, and anything that can make bees happy is a-okay with me.

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Re: Where are my squash?

Post  CapeCoddess on 8/31/2013, 2:53 pm

@audrey.jeanne.roberts wrote:
I had 23 spaghetti squash off of 2 plants this summer.  8 butternut off of 1 plant and a bunch of zucchini off of 3 plants.  1/2 of my cucumbers have been dismal, the other Armenian cucumbers were spectacular until the ant and aphids took them down :-(

I just planted some more squash a few weeks ago - depending on how late in November our first freeze comes.  Fingers crossed and worst case scenario I'll justify it with "Oh well, they're just seeds!"

Audrey
WOW! When I grow up I hope I have numbers like that! Wink 

I, too, replanted, about a month ago - zukes, spaghetti & acorn. They are tiny and may not amount to anything but it's an experiment. They are right next to my late planted corn experiment that is finally knee hi. Laughing 

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Re: Where are my squash?

Post  cheyannarach on 9/2/2013, 1:24 am

Hang in there, a few weeks ago my garden was shredded by a huge hail storm that required snow plows (seriously, snow plows).  I gave up, thought nothing would recover and my squash now look better than ever!  I have gotten my first zuke, and have many more getting close!  And my cukes started taking off too!  It will get better!!

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Re: Where are my squash?

Post  Marc Iverson on 9/2/2013, 2:58 pm

Thanks for the good word, and I'm glad you got your garden going somehow after being snowed under. I had no idea squash were that hardy!

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Re: Where are my squash?

Post  cheyannarach on 9/3/2013, 7:09 pm

Me either!!  I thought everything was done for good!  Hope yours catch up!!

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Re: Where are my squash?

Post  Marc Iverson on 9/4/2013, 12:47 am

Guess what? I went to water today and saw my first patty pan squash! I sure hope it's not a dud!

I think I'll uproot the butternuts, though. They're just taking up space, and any fruit they would set would probably not have time to mature before a frost.

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Re: Where are my squash?

Post  sanderson on 9/4/2013, 3:55 am

Marc,
A Squash!Very Happy

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Re: Where are my squash?

Post  TxGramma on 9/4/2013, 10:30 am

smiles Yay Marc! Congrats!!! Hope it's the first of many.

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Re: Where are my squash?

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