Saturday, May 2, 2009

Dying squash and cucumber

Well, it's happening again: I'm losing my zucchinis and cucumbers to some unknown ailment.

Last week, I looked down at the base of my zucchini plant, and I saw the signs of a wilting that occurred last year:

The plant grows vigorously for a few weeks, and then begins to shrivel up where the stem comes out from the ground. This shriveling then follows the plant up and out, killing the vines and leaves. The plant grows vigorously, flowering big, beautiful flowers, but before it can become a fruit, the shriveling catches up with it and it dies.

In my garden, no other plant last year was affected by this mystery disease. And this year, it looks like it's just the zucchini so far (though the cucumbers have shown some yellowing). Now, it has occurred after a hot snap we had (96 degrees for a couple of days), and I've read that bacterial and verticillium wilts may occur after the temeratures rise, but again, no other plants have shown this damage.

I'm suspecting a squash borer, but by the pictures I took this morning, I don't see any signs, and I'm loathe to pull such a beautiful plant. What I am going to do, instead, is cut it above the withering, and put it in some water. If/when it roots, I'll plant it in fresh soil and see if that solves the problem.

If you have any suggestions or, better yet, THE answer to my problem, please let me know.


Rebecca said...

That's a bummer. I had problems with my zukes last year, too, and had to replant a few times before one took. I'll post your question on one of my favorite websites and see if I can help you find an answer. By the way..go ahead and pick the flowers can fill them with cheese and make a relleno-type dish, and I've also seen them in soup.

Kari said...

I talked to my sister. She had the same problem. What she said that if the ground is wet at night it causes the plant to rot. She suggests only watering them in the morning. If the ground is still wet in the evening you can try and put cardboard on the ground to protect the plant through the night.