Tag Archives: squash

Winter Squash Watch 2016

I made an unpleasant discovery yesterday while checking on my ‘White Cushaw’ winter squash plants.

Squash 2 Powdery Milden.jpg

Oh no! I haven’t encountered this before, but based on appearance, I think it must be powdery mildew. From what I’ve read so far, it will most likely cause leaves to die, and may also reduce yields and affect flavor, but there’s not much I can do at this point- apparently it’s easier to prevent than to treat.We’ll see what happens.

Meanwhile the one fruit on this plant is still growing rapidly. In just a few days it has gone from this:

Winter Squash

To this! It’s now larger than the average watermelon. Stay tuned squash fans.

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Three Sisters 2016: August Update

This year I’m growing a three sisters garden  bed with corns, beans and squash planted together. And, it’s starting to look pretty good! Here are a few photos.

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In the photo above, you can see all three plants doing more or less what they’re supposed to do. The beans are using the corn stalks as a trellis, while the squash plants fill in around the corn and beans.

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I don’t have any actual beans yet, they’re much later than last year. However, the plants look strong and are starting to flower. These are ‘Kentucky Wonder’ beans, which are usually eaten fresh, but can also be dried and used as a shell bean.

Squash Three Sisters.jpg

Meanwhile, for the winter squash, I have a lot of squash blossoms and a few recognizable squash fruits on the vine. Here’s the largest one so far. This is a variety called ‘White Cushaw.’ One reason I chose it is that it’s supposed to have good resistance to squash bugs. It must, because it’s still alive.

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And finally, here’s the corn, which I just started harvesting today. Don’t worry, it’s supposed to be green. This is ‘Oaxacan Green’ corn, and it’s a kind of grain corn, so the end goal is to make some really odd looking -but tasty!-corn bread.

Lemon Squash: So Far, So Good

I try not to get too excited about growing squash, because it usually ends badly. But I always want to believe that this will be my year. With that in mind, this year, I’m trying a variety of techniques to keep the terrible squash bug from killing all my plants.

One is the usual: I remove squash bug eggs whenever I find them. Also, I started using an organic-approved insecticidal soap this year on squash leaves, which is supposed to deter crawling insects of all kinds. And I also planted at least one variety that is supposed to have good bug resistance. Enter the lemon squash.

It’s probably too soon to tell if this will be a good year for squash, but I have two out of three squash plants are at least still alive, and I’ve harvested half a dozen squash. So already, better than average! Take a look at this summer squash, which really does look a lot like a lemon.

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Three Sisters 2016

I put in another “three sisters” garden plot this year with corn, pole beans and squash. I really like the idea of interplanting vegetables, and this is a classic combination of plants to grow together. The idea is that the beans use the corn stalks as support, and the squash grows around both and provides ground cover.

Last year was the first year I tried this, and it was moderately successful. I was happy with my harvest of grain corn and pole beans, but the winter squash floundered, and ultimately died without producing squash. One issue seemed to be excessive shade. I planted the squash too late and too close to the corn plants, and it got shaded out before it had a chance to grow very large. This year, I planted the squash farther out from the corn, and it’s already reached a nice size.So: So far, so good!

A few more details: This year I changed the variety of grain corn, because I wanted to try something new. The grain corn I picked is ‘Oaxacan Green’ corn. The kernels are supposed to be a mix of green and yellow, which I think looks really pretty in seed catalog photos.  Currently, those plants are about waist high.

The pole beans are ‘Kentucky Wonder’ beans, and they’re the same ones I grew last year. In fact, these are beans I harvested from the three sisters plot last year: They’re the first ones I’ve saved as seeds and replanted, so again: hoping these do well!

And the squash, is winter squash, but I’m not sure what type. I planted several types of squash this year, and neglected to label them. Unfortunately, they all look pretty much the same when growing, so hopefully these last long enough to set fruit, so I can see which type they are. Pretty sure it’s ‘White Cushaw’, but it could also be ‘Red Kuri,’ or ‘Kogigu.’ With luck,  I’ll get a chance to find out! I am determined to beat the squash bugs this year. I bought an organic-approved insect killing soap, which hopefully will help.

Here’s my first group photo of the three types of plants together. (Plus a few weeds that are photo bombing.)

Three Sisters 2016

Three Sisters August Update

This summer I put in a “three sisters” garden bed, with corn, squash and beans, and we’re finally deep enough into the summer to see some results. So here’s the latest.

The corn looks good! It’s a grain corn, so we need to let it dry. More about all that once I figure out what I’m doing.

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And we have beans! The bean vines long ago climbed to the top of the (10 to 15 foot!) corn stalks, which looks cool, but we’ve been waiting for some time hoping to see actual beans. I finally spotted them today! We also have a lot of blossoms on the vines, so there should be more beans soon.

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And the last winter squash plant is dead. A postmortem: I think the main problem is that it never got enough sun. I planted it in the middle of the corn and beans instead of on the outer edge of the planting, and did not anticipate how quickly the corn would grow and shade it out.

After I realized that was a problem, I also put in a lot of squash seeds farther out on the edge of the corn planting, but most never sprouted. Part of the problem was likely the rainy weather that led to a lot of standing water in that part of the garden. Whatever the reason, the squash never got going well enough to fulfill it’s role in the three sisters planting of providing ground cover to keep down weeds.

So, as far as the squash, I’ll plant it further from the corn next year, and hope that improves things. Still waiting to see what the final bean and corn harvest looks like.

Squash Plants, and the Bugs that Love Them

Every July I go to war against the squash bug. I do not hope to defeat this terrible bug, I only hope to slow it down long enough to harvest my fill of summer squash.

Am I winning? I’m not sure. So far I’ve harvested three squash, and I’ve done three rounds of squash bug egg removal. Worth it? Well, I do like summer squash.

To get rid of the eggs you first have to find them, and most of them are found in clusters on the undersides of the leaves. They look like this:

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One way to get rid of them is to scrape them away with a knife. It’s not as easy as it sounds, because they really stick on there, but I’m getting better with practice.

When I get really frustrated, I just cut away a small piece of the leaf, like so:

Squash-Bug-Eggs

Cutting away part of the leaf can’t be good for the plant, but neither are squash bugs! An advantage of this technique is you can get every last egg, and then contain them in a plastic bag and throw them in the trash. When you pop them off with a knife, some of the eggs stay on the knife blade, but others go flying through the air, and land fairly close to the plant. I’d rather get rid of them entirely.

This year I’ve been reading online, looking for other options, and I’m especially intrigued by the idea of using a soapy spray to kill the bugs. This post on squash bugs from Tending My Garden, has a description of this practice, and a wonderfully complete list of other options.

Let’s end on a positive. Here’s a picture of a healthy squash plant. This particular variety is ‘Alexandria’ which produces a light green squash.

Summer-Squash

Checking in on the Three Sisters

Here’s a quick update on how my three sisters garden bed is doing. Briefly, so far, so good!

The corn is getting really tall. It’s already over my head.

Corn

Surprisingly pretty, isn’t it?

The beans are climbing the corn stalks, although sometimes they need a little guidance to hit the main stalk.

Corn 2

This is not right.

Meanwhile, the squash is growing, but still isn’t very big yet. Hopefully it will grow, and start to fulfill its purpose as a ground cover.

Squash

Not that big yet.

Because of the height difference, it’s a little hard to get them all in the same photo right now, but here’s a shot at it.

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Three sisters family photo.