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Specific varieties of zucchini for resistance to mildew & squash bugs? (plus adventures with tatume)  RSS feed

 
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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.)
 
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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.
 
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https://www.amazon.com/Emerald-Delight-Summer-Squash-Seeds/dp/B005GRGPYW
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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.
 
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Dan: You might try the Lagenaria snake squash (birdhouse gourds). They definitely won't be bland!
 
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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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Maureen Atsali wrote: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



I see this thread has been quiet for a while - maureen, it sounds like you have a great opportunity for some cross-pollination to bring together taste and disease resistance!  Just grow them together as a landrace (or be more directed in pollinations with fewer plants) and save the best in successive generations.  Sounds like you have great selective pressures to make this go quickly.  Keep us posted!
 
Dan Boone
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I really should update this thread with my tatume adventure.  It's a testament to the power of saving seed!

I wrote the following in May of 2017, at which point I had grown two tatume seeds that yielded one total fruit the size of a softball, which I wrote the name on with a Sharpie (trick observed in Joseph Lofthouse photos) and put in my fridge and stored for (as of May 2017) seven months.

Dan Boone wrote: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.)  



Well, friends, I did not open up that tatume squash for its seeds in 2017.  And I did not find/open/deseed/plant those tatume seeds in the spring of this year, 2018.  But in mid August, I was casting about for stuff to plant for a fall garden and I remembered that squash.  And I said to myself, "Self..." I said, "I wonder whatever happened to that tatume?"  And so I went rummaging through my genetic materials fridge (which looks remarkably like a fridge full of moldy crap) and found one dried out husk of a squash with mostly-illegible sharpie on it, covered in dry mold.  Cracked it open, found a handful of perfectly normal-looking seeds in the void within, and planted a portion of them in a garage-sale tub with no bottom, full of years-old decomposed wood chips on top of a layer of chop-n-dropped giant ragweed, plus a double-handful of coffee grounds for foliage jump-starting spice.

They vined up nicely and bloomed prodigiously, attracting pollinators I thought were maybe gone for the season given that nothing in my garden had been bringing them around.  But a week of this nonsense and I wasn't seeing any fruiting.  So today I waded into the vines to take a closer look and not only do I have a couple of thumb-sized young fruits (ready I'm guessing to be picked in a couple of days for summer-squash eating) but I also found a couple of maximum-unit big boys the size of cannon balls hiding sneakily in the grass where they have been bulking up to winter-squash storage size for quite some time without me seeing them.  So that's my next generation of seed taken care of.  Those fruits are at least three times bigger than the single fruit I harvested last time.  

But the whole point to this exercise was bug and powdery mildew resistance.  Admittedly by growing in the fall and not planting any squash in the spring I may have boogered the whole lifecycle in my garden (which is fine with me!) but I have never seen any squash bugs or vine borers at all on the tatume plants.  Nor have these plants gotten any powdery mildew, although as you can see in the photos there's some sort of virus (I'm guessing) that's yellowed and killed a few leaves nearest the base of the vines, without seeming to affect the vitality of the plants.  

I did find some sort of random leaf-muncher on a few leaves a couple of weeks ago (there's a photo) which I flicked off into the bushes; never saw another one.  

Now the next big test is to figure out if this plant can produce something I want to eat!  I don't eat squash in huge amounts.  My uses for summer squash are (a) small amounts included for bulk and diversity in other cooked vegetable dishes; (b) cubes dehydrated for inclusion in winter soups and stews; and (c) bulk amounts dehydrated and powdered for the same use, only as a thickener and nutrition enhancer.  My uses for winter squash (which tatume is said to be useful as once mature) are the usual, but I am always comparing winter squash to sweet potato, and usually finding it comes up short in the culinary department.  (It is, however, easier to harvest.)  So I guess we'll see.  First frost here could be in as little as 10 days or as much as a month...

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tatume squash vines
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they're tiny, they're tatume, they're all a little loony...sorry
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tatume squash hiding against 55-gal drum
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leaf eating bug
 
Dan Boone
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Further adventures of tatume: I picked the first one this morning. Good solid crisp summer squash texture inside, not seedy. Sweet and crunchy as a raw crudite eating veg, including the skin, which was barely discernible in the mouth and not fibrous.

Traditionally I heartily dislike cooked summer squash in general and fried squash in particular, but several sources say the tatume fries nicely. Plus I walked into the kitchen, found an already hot frying pan, and was hungy. Why not?

Sliced into rounds. Pan oiled with hot peanut oil. Seasoned with a pinch of commercial “barbecue spice” that’s mostly sugar and onion and bland peppers, plus my own hackberry-smoked salt.

It was surprising edible! Of course I eat so little oil that anything fried tastes good to me now. But still, I’m pleased with this squash.

We’ve got two cool nights with risk of frost coming up before (probably) weeks more frost-free weather. I think these vines have earned a blanket.
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First tatume October 2018 — August planted
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Sliced tatume
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Frying tatume
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Fried tatume on plate
 
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