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Frost Tolerance of Squash vs Zucchini

 
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We had a surprise frost a few days ago. The weatherman predicted a low of 39F, but I woke up to 35 and frost on the ground.
I had a few summer squash that were about 2-3 inches tall and had just started forming true leaves.

The yellow squash completely withered and died. The zucchini (variety - Grey Zucchini) survived with no obvious damage. They're planted in 2 different spots, so it's possible the zucchini were protected some way that I haven't realized. From my view, the squash should have been more protected because they had flowering radishes a few inches away that blocked the wind. The zucchini are all by themselves at the moment.

I'm looking for others experiences and observations. Is zucchini slightly more frost tolerant than squash? Or was it some other factor?
 
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Nikki Roche wrote:We had a surprise frost a few days ago. The weatherman predicted a low of 39F, but I woke up to 35 and frost on the ground.
I had a few summer squash that were about 2-3 inches tall and had just started forming true leaves.

The yellow squash completely withered and died. The zucchini (variety - Grey Zucchini) survived with no obvious damage. They're planted in 2 different spots, so it's possible the zucchini were protected some way that I haven't realized. From my view, the squash should have been more protected because they had flowering radishes a few inches away that blocked the wind. The zucchini are all by themselves at the moment.

I'm looking for others experiences and observations. Is zucchini slightly more frost tolerant than squash? Or was it some other factor?



Both are squashes, and warm weather crops.  Maybe wind contributed too?
 
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There are dramatic differences in frost tolerance between different varieties of squash. Besides any differences in environment that have already been mentioned.

 
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I try not to plant either until after danger of last frost is past which is May 15 to January 1 here.

When I do plant something a little bit early that might get hit with frost I try to put loose hay around it and over the top of it carefully.  They can still get light and grow through the loose hay but when you get a light frost they are somewhat "more" protected from it as the frost tends to hit the surface of the hay and not go very deep within the hay.

Maybe you could try this on your remaining plants until you are safe from frost.

Here it is a gamble no matter when you plant as I have seen overnight lows of 22F the first week of July, so I "always" plant expecting frost here.

As for why one was hit harder than the other some very "small" things can make quite a big difference.  Early morning light can save some plants if they getting direct sunlight earlier than other which warms them enough to help save them from the frost.  Other plants a few feet away blocked for 20 minutes longer from direct sunlight may be affected more profoundly by the frost.  Here I try to keep all of my gardens facing the east so that they get the earliest direct sun possible to help combat late frost damage.  I also try to plant my plants according to height so that they are not blocked from direct sunlight in the morning by other plants.
 
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:
There are dramatic differences in frost tolerance between different varieties of squash. Besides any differences in environment that have already been mentioned.



Joseph, have you selected for light frost tolerance with your squash landraces?  Just curious how early I might be able to plant those
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Greg Martin wrote:Joseph, have you selected for light frost tolerance with your squash landraces?  Just curious how early I might be able to plant those



No. They are short enough season that I didn't have to select for frost tolerance.  I plant when the weather turns from damp/cool to dry/hot. About a week or two after average last frost date.
 
Nikki Roche
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Roy Long wrote:I try not to plant either until after danger of last frost is past which is May 15 to January 1 here.

When I do plant something a little bit early that might get hit with frost I try to put loose hay around it and over the top of it carefully.  They can still get light and grow through the loose hay but when you get a light frost they are somewhat "more" protected from it as the frost tends to hit the surface of the hay and not go very deep within the hay.

Maybe you could try this on your remaining plants until you are safe from frost.

Here it is a gamble no matter when you plant as I have seen overnight lows of 22F the first week of July, so I "always" plant expecting frost here.

As for why one was hit harder than the other some very "small" things can make quite a big difference.  Early morning light can save some plants if they getting direct sunlight earlier than other which warms them enough to help save them from the frost.  Other plants a few feet away blocked for 20 minutes longer from direct sunlight may be affected more profoundly by the frost.  Here I try to keep all of my gardens facing the east so that they get the earliest direct sun possible to help combat late frost damage.  I also try to plant my plants according to height so that they are not blocked from direct sunlight in the morning by other plants.



You may have hit the nail on the head about sunlight. The east side of the garden has forest, and it's close enough to block about the first hour of sunlight from most of my garden. There's one tree that's a bit closer than others, and it's in line with where the squash was.

I'll try your hay trick next year with my early plantings. Sounds like a good idea for when I'm surprised by a frost.
 
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