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Squash, Cucumbers, Zucchini, Pumpkins and the Pests that are Killing them  RSS feed

 
Brady Cotton
Posts: 1
Location: Land O Lakes, FL
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A third of my backyard is dedicated to our garden. I live in Land O Lakes, FL where it is typically hot and humid. We have covered this 1/3 area in tree clippings from tree companies doing tree removal. I have two Hugels that border the garden, an in ground container garden, and a standard garden bed. I have yellow and butternut squash growing in containers, two varieties of zucchini in containers (all in ground containers) and more of these varieties in several areas of the hugels. Where the squash will grow like crazy, they are hit non-stop with aphids, really bad by spider mites, and little green worms that I believe are cabbage worms. The pumpkins were infested so quick that they never got started and died out. I have tried neem oil, diluted Dawn, and DE powder. I continue to check daily on the top and under the leaves and it will appear that over night a plant or two will become riddled with these webs, turn yellow and brown with holes in them, and then start to die off. The hugels and containers are providing adequate water from my "touch" tests with my fingers (digging into and feeling) and I am applying some organic fertilizer (as they are already using composted cow manure and bat guano). I don't see the plants are stressed but just continually attacked to where they have no hope. I continually cut off the bad leafs, the plant will bounce back, then get infested again. This occurs over and over. Some zucchini has shown then will not complete but will rot off. Squash will start to show, appear stunted, and rot. Butternut fruits, appears stunted, and rots out.

I have added some chives, peppermint, and other strong smelling herbs to the hugels to deter some of the pest, fail for me. I have created some garlic oil spray, fail.

I have read over and over University of Florida's site on these varieties and the pests as well as Clemson's and to my knowledge I am doing what is said, yet I get no yield and continually fight pests.

If anyone has any thoughts, please share. I am open for anything. I feel if I can control the pests, I will get a yield as the plants are growing well, but are just so damaged by pests they are stressed to the max.

I will post pics if needed to share thoughts.

Please advise.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
gardener
Posts: 2569
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
498
bee chicken food preservation fungi greening the desert
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About 60 years ago plant breeders at the land grant universities, and the commercial growers that they collaborated with, decided that agriculture would be based on petrochemicals. Therefore for decades squash have been bred to be totally dependent on petrochemicals. To grow properly they need synthetic fertilizers, and fungicides, and pesticides, and herbicides, and rat-poisons, and sunblock, and water-absorbing crystals in the soil. OK. So maybe I exaggerate, they don't yet require the water absorbing crystals or sunblock, but plant-breeders probably will have that figured out within a decade...

So therefore, squash have pretty much forgotten how to grow in natural environments. They haven't had to deal with bugs, or search for fertility in the soil, or handle molds, or fend off mice.

If I had a recommendation for growers in Florida, heck in any location, it would be to ditch the commercial varieties of squash, and start growing your own locally-adapted varieties... And ditch all the -cides that are required to grow commercial squash varieties -- because they kill the insects pests and predators alike. I started all of my squash varieties by throwing dozens of varieties into a field, and offering them minimal care, such as once a week irrigation, and allowed whatever was going to survive to do so. My failure rate on squash is about 75% when I'm growing varieties sourced from someplace other than my farm. In the 2013 growing season I lost two squash plants out of about 330 to squash bugs. Last year I didn't lose any squash to any cause other than the farmer being careless with the weeding hoe.

The Seminole Pumpkin is endemic to Florida. They aughta feel right at home in spite of the bugs, and the humidity, and the soil, and the climate.

Edit to add: I thought that I was being facetious, but Google contains 80,000 hits for the phrase "Sunblock for plants". The top listing is an article by Time Magazine in which "Sunscreen For Plants" is named among the top 50 Best Inventions of 2008.





 
Dan Boone
gardener
Posts: 1787
Location: Central Oklahoma (zone 7a)
195
forest garden trees woodworking
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:If I had a recommendation for growers in Florida, heck in any location, it would be to ditch the commercial varieties of squash, and start growing your own locally-adapted varieties...


As I've mentioned elsewhere, I'm trialing a variety of summer squashes this year, looking for one that's more resistant to mildew and squash bugs than the cheap supermarket seed-rack "Black Beauty" variety that's cratered so spectacularly for me the last few years. Most of my experiments I started late, but I got an early start with some unspecified "Black Zucchini" seeds sourced from an in-state seed company and sold in bulk at my local hardware store from a plain white bag with no information on it except the seed company's name and location.

The pattern with the cheap generic seeds from wherever was spectacular foliage growth and early prolific fruiting, followed almost immediately by a sort of volcanic explosion of powdery mildew and squash bugs, which in combination turned healthy-looking plants into completely dead plants in less than ten days.

The locally-sourced seeds have been about 20% less awesome in foliage production and have produced fruit in smaller quantities, with seeming pollination difficulties (possibly weather-related) causing 75% of the fruits to wither and drop at less than finger size. But so far, powdery mildew has been scant despite wet weather and I've only seen one squash bug and one set of squash bug eggs on the leaves. And the production, though less awesome, has still been more zukes than I need. No sign of volcanic meltdown yet, so I am calling this a win.

 
Joseph Lofthouse
gardener
Posts: 2569
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
498
bee chicken food preservation fungi greening the desert
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Dan: Yup. That's the next best thing. If you can't grow your own seed, then grow seed produced by your neighbors, or at the very least that are known to do well in your area. We have three nurseries, and one farm stand around here that sell seed from bulk bins. They are not growing seeds that they produced themselves, but every variety they offer from the bulk bins has been extensively tested to grow and thrive in this area. I suspect that there are small mom/pop nurseries and farm stands like that all over. Just gotta get in touch with them, and buy almost mystery seed out of the white bag instead of from a glossy catalog with it's glib descriptions.
 
David Livingston
steward
Posts: 3559
Location: Anjou ,France
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Why grow them at all ? I cannot grow avocardos not sweet potatos out side but I expect you can
learn what grows naturally in your area otherwise are you not fighting nature ?
 
Mike Turner
Posts: 329
Location: Upstate SC
7
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Instead of the usual summer squashes, you could try growing Lagenaria "Cuccuzi", an edible gourd, and Cucurbita moschata "tromboncino". You harvest the fruit young as summer squash and with Tromboncino you can also allow the fruit to mature as winter squash. Both of these vining cucurbits love heat and humidity and are much more pest resistant than Cucurbita pepo.
 
John Master
Posts: 519
Location: Wisconsin
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Sunscreen for plants, and here I thought I had seen it all...
 
Dan Boone
gardener
Posts: 1787
Location: Central Oklahoma (zone 7a)
195
forest garden trees woodworking
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All 5 of my locally sourced black zuchinni plants have now succumbed to vine borers. And it's not going well with my experimental tromboncinos, either:
image.jpg
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Tromboncino borers
 
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