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April 30, 2016
I have squash plants that have plenty of flowers but they don’t set any squash. I
have seen bees in the yard, but not near the squash plants. Is there such a thing
as male squash plants? Is there something I can do to get some squash?
Squash plants, like all members of the cucurbit family have separate male flowers
and separate female flowers. The flowers themselves look quite similar, but look behind
the yellow blooms. On the male flower there will simply be a stalk, with the flowers
containing stamens covered in pollen. The female flower will have a small squash behind
the bloom hoping to get pollinated. If no bees come by to carry the pollen from the
male bloom to the female bloom, you won’t get any squash, unless you transfer the
pollen manually by hand. Bees can be a bit finicky. If you only have a few squash
blooms there may not be enough to interest them. They leave the hive and only travel
to one type of bloom before heading back. If you have a handful of squash plants,
they probably have more numerous blooms of other plants that they are attracted to.
We are planning our summer garden and always have problems with squash vine borers
or beetles destroying our otherwise healthy, productive summer squash and zucchini
plants. Our only recourse seems to be replanting and hope they don't attack the new
plants. Is there a way to prevent them from attacking the plants in the first place?
While some squash vine borers may be overwintering in your garden to come back and
attack, the adults seem to find even new squash plantings. Two things you can do to
help prevent injury. One monitor for the adults—they look somewhat like a wasp with
orange bodies. You can try trapping them—they are attracted to the color yellow. You
can buy traps or make your own using a shallow pan of water painted yellow—an old
plastic yellow butter tub works well. They fly in and drown. When you see the adults
you can use an insecticide at the soil line, but it needs replenishing when it gets
washed off and you need to be careful not to hurt your pollinators. If you plant using
transplants, you can wrap the stems lightly that go into the ground with aluminum
foil to act as a barrier for the boring larvae or if grown from seed, once established,
pull back the soil and lightly wrap the exposed trunk with foil.
We are a bit stumped at a plant that came up in our garden. For a long time, we thought
it was a honeydew melon, but I cut one, and it had the flavor of a cucumber. Is it
a squash that has grown larger than it should have? There were only two of these on
the entire plant, and both fruits grew very large.
The leaves look more like a watermelon. Did the plant grow from a seed left over from
last year? If so, it could be a cross between a cucumber, squash, watermelon, etc.
-- members of the cucurbit family will cross pollinate and the resulting seeds can
give you some pretty interesting fruits. It should be safe to eat, and you may like
the flavor, or not.
Can you tell from these pictures why I am not getting any squash? I keep getting these
gorgeous male blossoms; but the lower female blossoms appear to be rotting off the
stems? Am I watering too much or perhaps not enough or what is the problem? I have
seen and killed several squash bugs and/or stink bugs; but I have not seen them for
awhile. In the meantime, I continue to see these healthy-looking plants with new beautiful
blossoms; but no squash or zucchini.
You aren't alone. Summer squash seems to be much more affected by the heat than other
members of the cucurbits. Folks are getting cucumbers and melons, but no squash. Even
those with beehives in their backyard are having an issue. For some, a lack of pollinators
can affect the fruit set. Squash has separate male and female flowers and to get squash,
something needs to transfer pollen from the male bloom to the female bloom. If you
don’t have bees, you can do it yourself with a paint brush or q-tip. But from the
pictures, it looks like your female flowers aren't even opening up, so there is no
chance of fruit set. I would not blame it on a damaging insect or lack of bees, but
I would blame it on the weather. I am pulling my squash and going to use that space
for okra and more peppers, which can take the heat.
I planted a winter squash this year, butternut squash, for the first time. Some of
the squash are getting fairly large now but are till green. How do you know when the
squash are ready for harvest?
Butternut squash will typically turn a light tan or buff color when mature. As with
all winter squashes, they will have a hard outer rind when mature. They are a long
season crop taking usually about 90 days to mature. When they are fully mature, they
store quite well, or can be eaten when harvested.
My wife is a native of South Dakota and her favorite squash is the butternut which
grows well in the Upper Midwest. We brought some seeds back last fall from South Dakota
and plan on planting them this spring in Maumelle. When and how is the best way to grow butternut squash in Arkansas?
Butternut squash grows very well here. Plant in May after the soil has warmed up a
bit. It usually takes about 90 days before you begin harvesting, but it is prolific.
Watch out for squash vine borers, stink bugs and powdery mildew. With winter squashes
we usually plant them in a hill or raised area putting three to four seeds per hill.
You can thin out to 2-3 after germination occurs. Give them ample room to grow, as
they are wide spreading. Mulch well to keep weeds away. Fertilize at planting and
side dress 6-8 weeks later.
We had to give up a large landscaped house for a town house in Hot Springs Village.
Therefore I have grown tomato plants directly in bags of soil on a sunny deck (with
slits in the bottom of the sacks). What tomato variety do you suggest as the very
best? Peppers have been successful, grown in bags of soil also; but what variety might
you suggest as best? Has squash been successful?
You could ask ten different gardeners which variety of tomato is best, and you would
probably get ten different answers. We all have our favorites. Usually when we grow
tomatoes in containers, which I would classify as the bag method, the bush type of
tomatoes is easier to manage. Tomatoes come as either determinate varieties--bush
type, or indeterminate--those that keep growing. The determinate ones usually have
a stronger stem and don't require the rigid staking. They are usually more manageable
in size. For peppers, almost all should perform well. The banana type peppers may
not be as nutritionally needy as the bell types, but with proper nutrition and watering,
anything is possible. They sell space saving varieties of squash and cucumbers--more
bush-like in habit, specifically for containers.
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