Growing Summer squash - problems

Discussion in 'Fruit and Vegetable Gardening' started by Anik, Jul 27, 2006.

  1. Anik

    Anik Member

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    Location:
    Richmond, BC
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    2:45 PM
    I have planted several summer squash plants in my backyard. However, the problem is that the plants flower and have a lot of small fruit but each fruit would grow to up to 2-5 inches, and then start yellowing at the top and gradually all turn yellow, wilt and die (then I have to remove it).

    Does anyone have an idea why this may happen? Can something be done about that? I heard that this may be due to insufficient pollination but I though that in this case they would not even grow as much as 4-5 inches...Maybe soil acidity is a problem? I never tested but heard that here in Richmond/VAncouver the soil tends to be acidic...

    Also, today morning I went out and noticed some ants inside the male flowers (which were open at that time). Could this be the cause of the problem? We do seem to have quite many ants in the flower beds as well - I can see them on the flowers as well...

    Thank you in advance for any advice or information
     
  2. growest

    growest Active Member 10 Years of Activity

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    Anik--I had the same problem for the first few weeks, and I believe it is a pollination issue.

    What worked here was to pick fresh, open male flowers and shove their stamens/pollen right into the female stigmas, and leave em there. Doing this early/mid morning is perhaps best, as the pollen is dry but still fresh and viable, and newly opened female flowers very receptive. None of the flowers so treated had problems producing perfect fruit...and indeed now they are fruiting away without my intervention anyway (probably due to many more flowers both male and female appearing every day now).
     
  3. Anik

    Anik Member

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    Thanks a lot for the reply.
    I have a related question: my squashes' male flowers seem to behave normally - open wide in the morning and close later. But for some reason I can not catch female flowers being open - they seem to be closed (tops of the petals are 'stuck' together) every time I look (I can only check in the morning around 8am and then after 7pm in the evening as I am working) Could this be part of the problem? I am not sure whether I shoudl separate the petals of female flowers for hand pollination - I am worried that this may damage the flowers

    Also, could there be a similar problem with cucumbers. I planted some outdoors, they flower but do not bear any fruit. Pollination problem again I guess...
     
  4. magbmpie

    magbmpie Member

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    I also have a lot of ants around both my flowers and vegetables. I have just left them to do the pollination bit for me. I have lots of zucchini growing but I am having the problem with the flowers not being open at the same time with my Butternut squash. Also most of my squash flowers seem to be male.
     
  5. growest

    growest Active Member 10 Years of Activity

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    You've probably noticed that any particular plant will only open either male or female flowers on a given day...they are trying to cross pollinate with another plant rather than just pollinating themselves. As the summer goes along, more and more flowers will open on the larger plants, and most or all of this pollination problem solves itself.

    Early in the season, tho, we can help things along by physically shoving pollen down the female flowers...and as has been mentioned this usually means finding or making those female flowers open. Maybe for you, Anik, this will be a weekend job only? I would nonetheless try to pry open a female flower in the early morning and set the pollen deal in it...probably still work as it gets later in the day.

    Another thing you always notice is that the first many flowers on a plant are male, except with some cukes that are bred to have lots of females. So there's a bit of just waiting for nature to provide the potential fruit in the form of those female flowers...

    I also like and grow butternuts, but they are much slower to get flowering and setting fruit...and I've never managed to get involved in pollinating out in the butternut patch, er, tangle...they always manage to produce fruit just in time to ripen before frost, but rarely much before that!

    The early Butternut Hybrid (West Coast Seeds) is the only variety that has worked for me (used to get it from Stokes as well)...other butternuts must grow great back east but are too danged slow for our cool summers...
     
  6. |sloth

    |sloth Member

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    Hi. Hmm so the fruit for squash can be produced without pollination, then it dies? I was under the impression to even get a fruit, there had to be pollination..?? Squash different? My cucs are going crazy, but right next to them the sweet dumpings are just getting to about 2" dia. then drying up and falling off. I thought it might be a nitrogen problem...

    Interesting ideas and some knowledge here too, great readings :)
     

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