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Specific varieties of zucchini for resistance to mildew and squash bugs?  RSS feed

 
Dan Boone
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It's the time of year when one looks at seed catalogs and must resist the temptation to buy twenty new varieties of seeds for plants that one only plants a dozen of. And one way I'm shoring up my resolve not to buy too many random seeds is by identifying very specific traits I need and focusing my seed search on those traits.

Which brings us to powdery mildew and squash bugs, specifically on zucchini.

In my gardening circumstances I am learning that my zucchini will just start producing when the powdery mildew hits hard and kills the plants. Has happened to me a couple of years in a row now, despite being careful about things like watering in the evening and maintaining good airflow.

Successional planting seemed like a good idea, but this year I also had squash bugs. They weren't affecting the first crop of plants too badly, but when those plants started to succumb to the powdery mildew, the bugs all migrated over and destroyed the younger plants before they ever had a chance to set fruit. At least I've been lucky not to have encountered any squash vine borers yet.

This thread is emphatically NOT about gardening methods to control mildew or bugs. The web is awash in hints and tips. Some I've tried, and I'll try more next year, but a lot of them are simply more detail-oriented and fussy than I can accomplish at the level of gardening intensity I bring to the project.

Nope, this thread is about varieties. All the hints and tips suggest using mildew-resistant varieties, but I'm having trouble finding good info out there on what varieties are resistant to the various pests. I want suggestions. So far I've just been planting the bog-standard "Black Beauty" zucchini that's on every twenty-five-cent seed rack.

Google searching so far has produced a few suggestions, short on details or corroboration. Veggie Gardener suggests "‘Ambassador" and "Wildcat" varieties to resist mildew. That's really the only suggestion I've found for mildew. For the bugs, Southern Living suggests some squash varieties but lists no summer-squash types. The best hint seems to be a non-zucchini summer squash suggested on the GardenWeb forums:

The summer squash called variously zuchetta tromboncino rampicante, zuchetta, or tromboncino is an extremely vigorous vine that bears delicious zucchini-like fruit, and in my experience is totally resistant to squash bugs.
The last 3 years my Zucc's have been totally destroyed by squash bugs but year after year they don't seem to touch zuchetta tromboncino rampicante. Taste great, keeps a long time too. Good fence climber.


I'm definitely going to try that one and see how badly it gets the mildew also.

Any other suggestions (or anecdotes, or long experience) for zuke varieties that resist the powdery mildew?
 
Dan Boone
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Doing some more research I find a New Hampshire cooperative extension pamphlet listing a bunch of different squashes resistant to powdery mildew, including six zucchinis: https://extension.unh.edu/resources/files/Resource000617_Rep639.pdf
 
Dan Boone
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A little consulting job just paid me so I find myself looking at the seed catalogs I swore I wasn't going to look at. Before I spend my whole seed budget, anybody got advice on specific varieties for mildew or bug resistance?

(Yes, I'm bumping my own thread.)
 
Michael Cox
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Dan - I don't know enough about varieties to help you here, but this is definitely something that you could look at through a bit of selection and seed saving. Carol Deppe's books on breeding your own vegetables would be worth a look at, as would the Joseph Lofthouse posts on landrace gardening. Short version - select and save seeds from varieties that do well in your area (or at least better than their peers).
 
Dan Boone
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Micheal, I haven't seen Carol's books but I have read the Lofthouse stuff with intense interest. However I think to make landrace work I'll need to be planting a lot more plants than has formerly been my habit. I will definitely be giving this a try -- and indeed I have several varieties to try this way this summer -- but my current focus is on seeds to plant this year.

 
Michael Cox
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The stuff by Carol Deppe is very interesting - it is essentially a systematic approach for selecting crops, rather than the haphazard landrace form of Lofthouse. Benefits of Carol's methods are that you can still get good results from a small area/limited number of plants.

eg

Zuchinni x zuchinni in the first year - this only needs one flower of each variety, but you would probably want to cross pollinate a few times to ensure viable fruit set.
Collect seeds
Following year sow as many plants as you need for consumption. Keep the ones that look promising. If none look promising grow out more the following year.
 
Bruce Dusterhoft
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https://www.amazon.com/Emerald-Delight-Summer-Squash-Seeds/dp/B005GRGPYW
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[Thumbnail for Screenshot_20170510-004033.png]
 
Casie Becker
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I've had good results with tatume. They survive squash bugs, mildew, and squash vine borer. Even last year when I pretty much let the gardens go by the end of the summer (had a long trip out of state then) the tatume survived until fall.
 
Dan Boone
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Bruce, thanks for that recommendation!  Have you tried it?

Casie Becker wrote:I've had good results with tatume. They survive squash bugs, mildew, and squash vine borer. Even last year when I pretty much let the gardens go by the end of the summer (had a long trip out of state then) the tatume survived until fall.


Last summer I planted two tatume seeds rather late and they got blasted by the summer heat here, but they hung on and, in the fall, produced precisely one squash.  I let it mature on the vine and it's still in my fridge; I plan to try the seeds from it again this year.  (A spring road trip to Alaska to see relatives and clean out some ancient storage units has completely blasted my spring gardening/planting so far.) 

Two years running I've tried the trombocino without success; they grow and fruit briefly but seem particularly susceptible to vine borer.  Plus I wasn't that impressed with the fruit; they are one of these that needs to be picked pretty young to use as summer squash but mine were always woody and stringy and flavorless no matter when I picked them. 
 
Casie Becker
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I let my last tatume mature on the vine last year. We'll pretend it wasn't because I'd lost the fruit in the midst of other plants till it was almost done. We kept it sitting on the kitchen counter until after I started planting the rest of my squash plants this spring. While it wasn't tender, it was more crisp than woody and still tasted like a mild zuchinni after close to six months on the counter. I was rather excited to find there were winter squash varieties that didn't taste like another pumpkin.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Dan: You might try the Lagenaria snake squash (birdhouse gourds). They definitely won't be bland!
 
Maureen Atsali
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All of the squash I have imported here were attacked by mildew and melon fruit flies.  Both summer and winter varieties.  Plain old yellow crookneck did the best of all my imports, but I still couldn't get a mature fruit for seed saving due to the fruit flies.

But I noticed all the squash being grown by the locals did fine.  Zero mildew, and seemingly zero fly larvae.  I started begging seeds from little old ladies in the village.  They are not particularly tastey, but totally strong and resilient.  Locals eat the leaves and couldn't care less about the quality of the fruits.  I hope to start selecting for better taste in coming seasons.

The point being... Could you seek out a locally adapted landrace variety, or native american heirloom from your region?  It seems like that's the best bet for resiliency
 
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