I like summer squash and generally I don't have the problems with over-abundance that many folks have because the squash borers and insects get to mine soon enough. This year may see an abundance of summer squash, though.
I chose to plant 2 heirloom summer squash varieties this summer, said to be more resistant. They are Costata Romanesco (a zucchini), and Lemon squash, which only looks like a lemon but tastes like most yellow summer squash. In fact, the lemon squash is rather pretty.
I have to say I'm quite pleased with how they have held up in the heat, and how few bugs I've seen, and NO squash borers so far. I have 7-8 squash quiche in the freezer, and a bunch grated, drained and frozen for possible zucchini bread when holiday time rolls around. I also found a great recipe for faux crab cakes using zucchini, and it is surprisingly good. I have 2 big batches now in the freezer that will only need nuking for a meal.
Darius, where did you hear that they were resistant? This year I am growing parthenocarpic varieties in a pop-up tent from Gardeners Supply, but I'm still finding squash bug eggs on the leaves! We'll see if I get anything out of them. The Greek winter squash variety that was supposed to be resistant wasn't, even though I grew it under cover until the first blossoms. Very discouraging! Anyway, those look good and I'm glad you're getting some results finally!
I grew Costata Romanesco one year, but I don't remember whether it was particularly resistant. I've also found that I get decent results with Greyzini just because it's so prolific, and Ronde de Nice wasn't as bad as some of the others either. I'll have to try the lemon squash and see how that works for me. The reviews were encouraging. Probably too late to order seed this year, though.
darius, I'm a fan of squash and zucchini myself. Thanks for posting about the lemon squash, I saw the seed available elsewhere and considered it but I already had a squash seed surplus for this year. It really looks like fun, though, so I'm glad for the recomendation and will definitely order some for next year. I've been delving into the Italian varieties with good luck, so I'm going to keep going.
I've been wondering about freezing zucchini in some way other than already cooked into something, so thanks also for the tip on grating and draining before freezing! Duh! Makes total sense! I love zucchini in veg soups but those faux crab cakes sound fun too. I'll google them and see what I come up with.
Of course, some of my surplus goes to the chickens! They seem really fond of the trombone zucchini split in half. It is fun to grow but one can really end up with a bounty and I'm glad I have zucchini fans in the coop as well as the house! Saves on feed bills too. And now I have goats! They are potential fans as well. So now I can really indulge in my squash/zucchini/pumpkin growing fettish with zeal as I have plenty of sources for surplus elimination! Hahaha, little farm joke there.
I'm just starting to get some zucchini under the pop-up tent, but the greyzini outside the tent is beginning to produce, too. It would be ironic if that did better. There was an adult squash bug in the tent, but I removed it and killed it.
Greenhouse Gal, what partheocarpic varieties are you growing in your pop up tent? I bought the 3 x 4 x 6 ft tent last year for my broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussel Sprouts and was thrilled with it so am using it again this year but didn't have room for the squash. I am growing the Partenon zucchini in an Earthbox using mosquito netting. So far I have killed several squash bugs I found on the outside of the netting and things look good inside but the squash is really getting big and the mosquito netting will not cover all of them soon. I ordered a 4 x 4 pop tent to use just for squash next year so will be really anxious to hear how you fared with the different varieties in the tent, especially in terms of production. . One partenon plant has a male flower blooming but I am confused how this type of squash produces. I see little female buds with infant squashes as well but how do they pollinate without the bees? within themselves like a tomato?
I also bought Diva cucumber which is parthenocarpic but have to figure out how to grow it inside the taller tent. I wonder if I could bend some wire fencing from one side to the other 4 ft high so the cucumber would climb across the inside of the tent over the broccoli!
Gardadore, I have Partenon and Cavilli squash inside the tent. One of the Cavilli is dying and I'm not sure why; it's hard to get in there to take a look and of course I don't want to let the squash bugs have a chance to access them. I'm not sure how they pollinate, but apparently they don't need bees which is the whole point. I'm not sure what I think of the tent; it has blown over several times, and once when we were trying to set it back up again one of the poles that I was using to provide a frame for it slit the fabric open and we had to tape it. The little L-shaped metal stakes don't do a very good job of keeping it anchored.
I did think of putting some cabbage between the zucchini in there but never bothered and now I'm sorry because the cabbages are riddled with holes. The reason I got that high pop-up tent was because I tried row covers years ago with Partenon squash and, as you found, they get so big that the covers no longer protect them. It was also very hard to check out the plants for maturing fruit.
I use Diva because I like it, not because it's parthenocarpic, but I don't bother protecting it; my cucumbers do well on their own. I've been giving them away! You could try bending some wire; you could also try just letting them grow in the tent on the ground if there's room.
So far the tall 3 x 6 tent is holding up but the zipper on my entrance door is giving me problems. Since there are zipper doors on both ends (the new ones are on the side, which is much more practical), I can simply reverse the tent next year and use the other entrance. The second door is not accessible at the moment (potatoes are planted in front of it!). I set the tent next to a 24" wire fence on one side of the garden and tie the poles on the fence side to the fence. Then I reinforce the poles not against the fence by tying bamboo or metal stakes to them and so far the tent has remained very sturdy and upright. It can't blow away because of being attached to the fence. But it did cave in once last summer during a high wind where I had not reinforced one of the tent poles properly. It is important that the poles be almost as tall as the tent to prevent the cave-ins. The L stakes have held well but then it really can't move anyway. I can see how easily one could make a tear in the fabric. I am sure that after the third year things will begin to go. It does fold down nicely for the winter even though it doesn't fit back into its original bag. I haven't opened the new 4 x 4 and won't until next season. One thing about these tents - you have to be pretty agile to bend over and crawl in them. Oh for a 6' walk in tent! I love to dream!
You are right that the Partenon get very large. But even if the mosquito netting doesn't cover completely it still seems to he helping. I now have lots of male buds and a few female so anxious to see how this all works!! It looks as if one of the squashes is getting larger rather than falling off due to lack of pollination - but don't want to speak too loudly yet!
I have the Cavilli on my "To Buy" list for next year. Is this your first year growing these two varieties? How do they compare in flavor and consistency to other zucchini. One of my favorites is Romanesco but my last two seedlings were eaten this year by slugs so I need to buy more seeds.
Gardadore, I haven't actually tried either of those zucchinis, so I can't tell you how they taste. This morning I went to investigate to see why one plant seemed to be dying, and it was covered with squash bugs; I can't tell you how discouraging that was. I tried to get rid of most of them but it's hard when they're under cover. The Cavilli is white; the Partenon is green. It was one of the Cavilli plants which was being eaten by the bugs. I still don't have anything to harvest; they are taking a long time to come to picking size. It could be because of the heat or the fact that they don't get as much water as the other nearby crops, because of the tent.
Our tent is next to a fence, so DH tied it to that to provide more support and that's helped a lot. I'll have to use more reinforcement next year. DH wants to hill the edges of the tent with earth to prevent squash bug incursions but I think if we can stop it from collapsing in windstorms that will be enough. What do you think?
I think the squash bugs live in the earth and emerge each season. I need to check out how to clear the soil of them if that is possible. Had you planted squash in that area before? I believe they winter over. I know they return to the Earth boxes each year. I was afraid they were actually in the EB soil since I don't always completely change it out. I top them off with fresh each year and more perlite. Mine seem to be in the soil around the EB's since so far they have been on the outside of the netting. I did sprinkle Diatomaceous Earth around when they first appeared and have killed the rest by hand. I feel for you - they are a mess. Would Diatomaceous Earth help if you sprinkled it all around and on the leaves? Supposedly nasturtiums repel them but it seems a little late for that. Interesting that they are leaving the Partenon alone. Therefore I am not sure the hilling outside of the tent will help if they are actually in the soil inside! I still had slug problems after planting the broccoli and cabbage because they are already there but the Sluggo seemed to work plus adding the DE. It's a constant battle but keep up the good fight! I am always pleased with anything I get. I will be away for the next 9 days so I'm sure there will be some surpasses both good and bad when I return! At least it's raining. What a relief - maybe something will still be here after that time. I have left gallon milk jugs filled with water everywhere for my husband's aunt to water the EB's and coir bags with. The tomatoes and some eggplants are in straw bales so are getting a good soaking which should hold them if the temps drop a bit.
Keep us posted on how the squash proceeds!
I had never had squash in that location; in fact it's far from any place I'd ever planted them. And they may get the other squash; it's possible that they got to that one first and are planning to take over the whole tent! I've tried nasturtiums, garlic, and radishes in the past, all of which are supposed to deter them, but nothing has worked.
I've never heard of diatomaceous earth helping with squash bugs; I use it for the sow bugs that seem to snip off some of my other seedlings.
Just checked in to the hotel and set up the computer. I found this link to the U. of Minnesota Extension about the life cycle of the squash bugs. http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/horticulture/M1208.html
I guess they don't live in the soil but they do overwinter under debris. Now I wonder how they got into your tent. Maybe the hilling up around the edges will help. Gardener's Supply carries plastic edgers http://www.gardeners.com/Pound-In-Edging/13-283VS,default,pd.html which might help if hammered in along the sides where the tent doesn't lie flat for you. I get them also at Walmart of Kmart cheaper. I forgot that I did put some of these along the non fence side. The key seems to be to kill as many as possible and try to keep new ones from getting in. By next season we should have this all very well thought out!! Actually I may just set up my new tent when I get home and see if this works. There should be enough time left in our area to start another crop of zucchini, the Partenon. You have me really curious about how these bugs get around!!
Gardadore, all I can think of is that when the tent blew down a couple of times that gave the squash bugs the chance they needed. A couple of years ago when I used row covers I still found some squash bugs on the plants when I uncovered them, but they were near the area where I had to start a new row cover because the first wasn't long enough, so even though I clothespinned the two lengths together the bugs must have found a way in. That too was in a location where I hadn't grown squash for several years.
I am back from Vancouver, Canada after a very cool week. It was a great relief to this weather although it is at least no longer so humid. The squash seem to have fared Ok but the Partenon are not producing any fruit. They seem to have a lot of male flowers like regular ones. Greenhouse Gal, are your parthenocarpic squash producing fruit without covers? Mine got so tall I had to lift the covers last night and let the bees and other bugs in. I will try to set up the new tent this afternoon or tomorrow and see if I can get any fruit on the Partenon in the tent. How are you doing with the Squash Bugs?
The Partenon is producing very little, and somehow squash bugs got in and have already laid waste to two of my plants. I can't get in there to do anything about them so I'm just watching to see what happens. The Greyzini I planted outside the tent is doing fine. Who knows why?
Darius, did the Romanesco zucchini do well for you? It didn't like TX, produced very little for me.
For squash bugs, take a yellow plastic solo cup and coat with vaseline. Hang lots of these near your squash. The bugs are attracted to the yellow cup and get stuck in the vaseline. Be sure to coat heavily.
You can also use bait traps.
I'll try the yellow cups next year. Do you coat the outside or the inside? Or what kind of bait traps? I've tried yellow bowls filled with slightly soapy water but they never seemed to attract anything. My parthenocarpic zucchini inside the tent have been almost completely killed by squash bugs, while the Greyzini outside is still fine so far, except for some nibbling through the fence by the geese.
Next year I'll try Romanesco. I am underwhelmed by the tents.
Greenhouse_gal, coat the outside. It works for whiteflies also, except then you use baby blue cups. When the vaseline gets all full of bugs, just wipe it off and start over. A local farmer down here told me about it.
Bait traps (we are battling valley wide Mex fruit fly invasion) are used for all kinds of things. We use specalized traps for cotton and citrus (they either look like little tents or plastic cups with a pointy hat or a big yellow trap that looks like a fly trap and are different colors depending upon what you're trying to catch) but in the garden we use sticky cards or the vaseline coated cups with a pheromone lure clipped to it. We buy the lures from a company in the PNW, can't remember the name right now, I'm on vacation and don't have their info with but they come in packs of 1, 25 or 100. This company also sells the traps or cards that go with the lures or you can make your own.
I was wondering if I could trap some bugs, whirl them in the food processor and make my own lures? It would sure be a lot cheaper except the whiteflies would be a pain because they're so small.
I grew Segev zucchini, we don't have as much problem with squash bugs as with leaf footed bugs and SVB's, but the Segev did well as did a yellow crookneck from High Mowing. The white scalloped from the same company (Benning's Green Tint I think it was called) lasted several months also. Darned pickle worms were horrible in the whole RGV this summer, hoping for a better fall. They were getting in every cucurbit we had, ruined the whole cantaloupe crop for lots of farmers this year. That is why we decided to investigate traps and lures because no sprays (organic or otherwise) would stop them.
I'm losing my cucumbers and melons to what appears to be bacterial wilt. It just hasn't been a good year for some things. I did get plenty of cukes before the plants started succumbing but I may not get any melons. Does that attack watermelon, do you know? Those still look vigorous.