When I was a kid my father, who was never one for moderation, would plant a 20 foot garden row of zucchini. While the garden was meant to keep a family of 5 in vegetables for a year, this was over the top. We ate zucchini in one form or another nearly every day during the summer and two entire freezer shelves were dedicated to squash that had been either sliced or grated. This does not even to begin to count the zucchini we gave away to – well – anyone who wasn’t quick enough to flee.
This is why, along with the humiliation of other people’s Instagram posts of giant, fecund zucchini, it is so aggravating to me that my plants are failing.
It’s not squash bugs. So far, I’ve been spared the rape and pillage of my curcubits by the mongols of the insect world by some unknown sorcery. But there is some other dark magic afoot.
So here’s the situation: the leaves are big and lush and I am getting both male and female blossoms and they are setting fruit. The fruit gets to be about 2 inches long, then turns yellow and falls off.
There are two possible reasons that my squash are rotting:
- It’s been hot and even though I’ve been pretty diligent about watering, the heat stress will definitely cause vegetables to fail. However, my cherry tomatoes are fine.
- Calcium deficiency: Last fall I bought 2 loads of composted horse manure and sawdust and sort of half-assed a lasagna garden (a layer of manure, layer of cardboard, layer of leaves, repeat) and used that for the growing medium in the vegetable beds. Even though the composted manure sat over the winter, I think it may still have been a little high in ammonia. Elevated ammonia levels can cause a calcium deficiency. However, I added some bone meal to the garden beds during the first week in July and nothing changed.
So, I’m not sure what is the problem – heat stress or calcium deficiency. It would be great to get a few more zucchini this year, but I’m not holding my breath. We’re planning on an entirely different set up for next years garden, to include wicking beds (more on that later) and a shade structure that doesn’t fall down the first time the wind blows. Maybe as the temps drop through late summer and fall, the plants will be happier.
If any of you have an answer, I’d love to hear it! Post it in the comments.