Squash plants are dying. How to save them?

Sacramento, CA(Zone 9b)

It all started when: I put my mini squash plants into larger containers and added fertilizer.

I tried hardening them off for transplant and laid them out in the sun the next day but then noticed that one plant started to get brown spots on the leaves and soon enough shriveled and died. This started a trend. Soon each of my summer squash plants started to yellow and brown one by one. Why did they start dying? Did the fertilizer stress them? Too much sun exposure stress them? Is it transplant shock? Drastic temperature changes from indoor and outdoor exposures?

Any advice or tip is appreciated.

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SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Are your edges getting dry and crinkle-y? If so, I would suspect too much fertilizer, too soon. Did you use water soluble or granular fertilizer?

I killed almost 60 out of 212 tomato plants last spring, over-fertilizing.

Nothing beats a wish but a try, so I would recommend you FLUSH the potting mix with some clear water to try to force out some of the fertilizer. Then, let them drain, and flush them again. They should recover if they're not too far gone, and it doesn't look like they are.

Next time, don't fertilize until you're ready to transplant them into the garden. And then, "feed them weakly, weekly!"

Linda

I'll look for your update.

Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

There is generally no advantage to planting squash out of ground in your zones. Seed directly sown for some veggies, squash included, usually are more robust when direct sown. You can't really harden off squash like tomatoes. The soil temps need to be warm and the days long for them to thrive. Consider starting again in ground with seed when soil temps are good for your zone. You may have problem plants later due to their unfavorable beginnings even if you are able to rescue the seedlings.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Laurel,
That is so true about direct sowing!

However, many of the growers I know are starting their squash seedlings inside because of the Pillbugs / sow bugs / rollie pollies that don't give them much of a chance in the raised beds, even.

Additionally, if you sow these seeds indoors ahead of time and get a nice sturdy plant, you can carefully cut off the bottom of the vessel (especially if it's a peat / paper / toilet paper pot) and plant the entire pot without disturbing any roots. That pot serves as a collar against cut worms, too!

Finally, those of us who are succession sowing like to be able to grab a seedling and place it exactly where we want it planted, without sowing seeds and having to dig out the excess.

It's just another way to get the same results.

Hugs!

Sacramento, CA(Zone 9b)

Quote from Gymgirl :
Are your edges getting dry and crinkle-y? If so, I would suspect too much fertilizer, too soon. Did you use water soluble or granular fertilizer?

I killed almost 60 out of 212 tomato plants last spring, over-fertilizing.

Nothing beats a wish but a try, so I would recommend you FLUSH the potting mix with some clear water to try to force out some of the fertilizer. Then, let them drain, and flush them again. They should recover if they're not too far gone, and it doesn't look like they are.

Next time, don't fertilize until you're ready to transplant them into the garden. And then, "feed them weakly, weekly!"

Linda

I'll look for your update.


I used Miracle Gro Potting Mix soil. The edges did end up like you stated.

Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

If starting out of ground avoids a problem then the same answer applies. A plant's later growth and production is tied to it's beginnings. Squash germinates quickly under warm temps. I'd start again. Meanwhile, I am puzzled about the pillbug and cutworm dilemma. I believe the reports here but that said, we have tons of both. The cutworms get some plants but pillbugs do not do the damage I see described. Perhaps there are predators in my garden that keep populations in control. Still, I can't lift a pot or move mulch without seeing them but plants, including seedlings, are not troubled.

Enterprise, AL(Zone 8b)

I have always thought that rollie pollies(what a cute name) just ate decaying plant matter. Please don't anybody tell them they can also eat live plants, mine don't seem to know that yet.

Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

Apparently our rollie pollies are better trained than some. Mine like to do rolling into a ball tricks and eat decaying plant matter. Others swear they are the bane of their gardens.

Sacramento, CA(Zone 9b)

Quote from MaypopLaurel :
There is generally no advantage to planting squash out of ground in your zones. Seed directly sown for some veggies, squash included, usually are more robust when direct sown. You can't really harden off squash like tomatoes. The soil temps need to be warm and the days long for them to thrive. Consider starting again in ground with seed when soil temps are good for your zone. You may have problem plants later due to their unfavorable beginnings even if you are able to rescue the seedlings.


Makes a lot of sense. I will try again and sow directly in ground to observe the difference.

Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

Our big headache is squash vine borer. They need to come up with a good solution to keep the moths from laying.

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Carmel, IN(Zone 5b)

You also might want to be careful when you first start putting them outdoors---those are still small plants. They should be in a protected area for just a few hours, and gradually working up to more time and direct sunlight. For most seedlings, using 1/4 strength fertilizer is plenty.

Delhi, LA

You have gotten some good advice. I started mine in doors this year because of the cold spring we have been having. My comment would be to put them in indirect sun when hardening them off to start with. I never fertilize anything until it is out in the garden and has time to let the roots get a hold. If I do fertilize in the cup, I just mist lightly with a mild Miracle Grow water. Another question is did you pucnch some drain holes in the bottom of the cups?

BUda, TX(Zone 8b)

Linda, as usual, has some great advice. The big 3 veggies that are direct-sown are cucumbers, squash, and zucchini. They are easy to start, and they need the warm soil to do well. I made the mistake of starting cukes in January inside in trays, and had tendrils running up into the lights. If it had been warm enough to get them out into the garden, they would be 5' tall by now. I just started some more in the fabric pots I'm using, and they just popped a couple days ago.

Almost everyone agrees that fertilizing while inside or before hardening, is dangerous at best. The MOST liquid fertilizer you would consider using would be at about 25% concentration. When you are hardening off, transplanting, and adding fertilizer at the same time, you have too many variables to pinpoint exactly which is the culprit if you have a problem, plus you have multiple stress factors..


Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

Pill bugs will destroy small seedlings. For the longest time I couldn't figure out what was mowing down my small seedlings I put a circle of Garden Dust around each seedling and the next morning I found jillions of dead pill bugs, but the seedlings were a live.

I always direct sow squash seed tho. They can be difficult to transplant, they don't like their roots disturbed. I started some minature acorn squash a couple of years ago and everytime I transplanted them they died..even when just took the bottom off the paper cup. I think you only save about 10 days by starting them inside, bc their acclimation time is so much longer then other plants. GG starts them due to other issues but if your trying to get a head start you won't get a big one.

Sacramento, CA(Zone 9b)

Quote from Jim41 :
You have gotten some good advice. I started mine in doors this year because of the cold spring we have been having. My comment would be to put them in indirect sun when hardening them off to start with. I never fertilize anything until it is out in the garden and has time to let the roots get a hold. If I do fertilize in the cup, I just mist lightly with a mild Miracle Grow water. Another question is did you pucnch some drain holes in the bottom of the cups?


When I moved them into bigger cups, no there were no drain holes. Didn't take me long to think it may be one of the reasons behind it. However even after creating drain holes I continued to have healthy plants that eventually started yellowing.

Delhi, LA

Mix a little Miracle Grow in water. Just enogh to barely give it a blue cast and mist the plants and see if that helps. It shouldn't hurt them if the mixture is mild. If it helps you'll know it is a nutrient problem. If it helps it will only take a couple of days to see a difference.

BUda, TX(Zone 8b)

A "good" insect to have in the garden are lady bugs. I know they go after aphids plus others, that I don't recall off of the top of my head. Contact an organic nursery & they should be able to help you find some. We got them last year, and they stayed around the garden for several months. From what I've heard, this year they might be a little harder to find. They are totally organic, easy to use, and when you have a grand daughter, she loved letting them loose. I think we paid 7 or 8.95 for 2,000 of them last year. Keep them cool in the fridge until almost sunset, then just take them to your garden and let them go. Some will fly away, but most will home in on the garden and return. We found some almost into the end of the summer.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Kev,
I found Ladybug INSTARS!!! Thank God, someone posted a thread on identifying the juvenile ladybugs, cause the instars don't look anything like a mature Ladybug. I am taking care of those babies!

Linda

Plantersville, TX(Zone 9a)

I'm sure it was the fertilizer that killed your plants.

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

I agree it was probably the fertilizer but the combination of things probably weren't good either. Squash plants don't tolerate change very well. How are your plants doing did you direct sow some seeds?

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

Quoting:
Thank God, someone posted a thread on identifying the juvenile ladybugs


You're welcome, Gymgirl :)

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

:-)

Sacramento, CA(Zone 9b)

Quote from 1lisac :
I agree it was probably the fertilizer but the combination of things probably weren't good either. Squash plants don't tolerate change very well. How are your plants doing did you direct sow some seeds?


I did. Got 2 plants in ground that are growing, however now they have insects biting on the leaves.

*this is harder than I thought

Sacramento, CA(Zone 9b)

Update on squash plants. Has holes in leaves. In-ground planting.

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Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA(Zone 7b)

Those holes do not look threatening. I must have caught this thread on the fly now seeing it is a beginner forum. Kudos to you, Silvermist, for jumping into veggie gardening. It's a great challenge with great rewards. You will maybe appreciate farmers in a whole new light. They are truly unsung heroes. I would suggest you become a subscriber so you can access the expert information offered by vegetable gardeners on the specialty forums.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Silvermist,
I suggest you might go to your local fabric store and purchase a length of "tulle" (the bridal veil fabric), to tack down over your new squash plants. It will keep the Squach Moth from lighting and laying eggs on your vine. At least until it is established, and has enough growth to have a fighting chance. You won't stop it completely, but you'll give your plant a chance to get some size.

We have a whole thread going on how to thwart the dreaded Squash Moth, and the Squash Vine Borer.

When you become a subscriber, you will be able to access the "expert information offered by vegetable gardeners on the specialty forums." Particularly, the thread on defeating the Squash Vine Borer, lol!

Linda

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

Aren't the Squash moths the adults of the squash vine borer? I'm really liking this tulle idea it will keep most any bug out, it's cheap, and you can make it any size you want. Hand pollunating is so easy too.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Oh, yeah, Lisa,
you're gonna teach me hand pointing for sure!!!

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)



This message was edited Apr 17, 2013 7:36 AM

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

I'll be glad to but you might want to google it. It's very simple but hard to explain.

Irving, TX(Zone 8a)

you will need to have a "body guard" when you lift the tulle and hand-pollinate !
The SVB is so smart ... he will wait on your shoulders while you lift the tulle ... and pu pu pu he will deposit millions of eggs ... seriously ... SVB is SMART !!!

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

drthor - I doubt very much that any male moth will deposit any eggs on anything, ever! LOL

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Ruh Roh!!!

Delhi, LA

I'm going to put aluminan foil aroung the bottom of my squash and cucumbers to guard against the moths.

Sacramento, CA(Zone 9b)

Quote from Jim41 :
I'm going to put aluminan foil aroung the bottom of my squash and cucumbers to guard against the moths.


Sounds like a nice idea

Sacramento, CA(Zone 9b)

Update on my squash plants: the very last photo seems to be my most unhealthy plant inground
and the very first photo is an image of my most healthy one

I intend to get cages for them so they can grow their vines upwards since I've heard they take up a lot of ground space & whatnot.

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Sacramento, CA(Zone 9b)

For those who are wondering about the ones that were sow in cups (that were yellowing & etc)...I went ahead and gave them a fighting chance and now they are in my raised garden bed. I wanted a first-hand experiment to see how they will turn out after being transplanted. Why are they in a raised garden bed? Because it was a spur of the moment project and I decided why not experiment with some plants this year.

*and of course they're not doing as well as the ones in ground

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Newport, TN(Zone 7a)

Hiya, I have been following this thread in hopes of avoiding the problems I had last year. More with cukes than squash, but I still had the same issue with brown leaves using a seed mix with fertilizer mixed in. You'd think it would be mild enough. I am going to try sowing direct to see if the plants are better.
Silvermist, do you mean that you planted in the raised bed rather than a hill? I had this question last year, and was told that a raised bed is already a big hill. I'm not sure this is really right, The squash plants I gave my neighbor was rampant, planted on a hill, mixed in with other plants, like pumpkins and cukes. These outstripped mine in my fancy raised bed, even though the neighbor's dirt was probably imported from the depression era OK dustbowl,(ha) rocky,weedy and full of earwigsand slugs under every rock. She never weeded or watered until they were practically dead. Yet, they just grew like triffids and produced lots and lots. I have to admit, i was irked, since I gave her the plants.

Anyone know what bug would cut the tops of my squash plants off? It just left the stem, and didn't even eat the top it cut off!! UGH!

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

Quoting:
Anyone know what bug would cut the tops of my squash plants off? It just left the stem, and didn't even eat the top it cut off!!


That would mostly likely be a cutworm!

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

Cutworms or sow bugs. Both have cut my plants off.

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