Monday, August 25, 2008

Death of Zucchini

It is with great sadness that I report that my zucchini plant is dying. We have three plants in total; one is about to die and two are hanging on but no female flowers.

Growing zucchini has not been so great for us this year. I don't know why. Maybe it's the lack of correct nutrients in the soil, lack of rain, lack of space... but we only were able to harvest TWO zucchinis this year. Only TWO from an entire season!

Next year, I don't think I will grow the zucchini in the Square Foot Garden. I just don't think the square foot is big enough to accommodate its growth. They really do grow very large, and their stems and leaves are huge.

Below: The poor plant hanging over the SFG box

As you can see, the leaves are still green, but closer to the stem, it's all brown and dried up. It looks pretty dead to me. The plant is no longer fruiting--there are no more female flowers that give me any hope of future zucchinis.

Below: The dried stem of the zucchini

It's a bit strange that the stem is all dried but the leaves and branches of the zucchini plant are green and look healthy. But the entire plant is just too big for the square that it is planted in. I guess I didn't realize how large the zucchini plant actually grows. I tried to use a bamboo stick and try to make the plant grow vertical, but it didn't work.

Below: The beautiful green branches and leaves of the zucchini plant

And sadly, all the new flowers on the plant are male ones. I haven't seen any female flowers in such a long time. There were a few female flowers a few weeks ago, but they wilted away.

Below: Male flowers only...

Next year, I will plant these zucchinis in a vegetable raised bed. I hope they will do better next year. I'll need to research on what makes growing zucchinis an easier process.


Robj98168 said...

That is confusing- My zucchinni is doing well this year- maybe you have something on only a square foot- Mine is growing in it's own box, shared with two cucumbers

Cindy said...

I'm so sorry your zucchini didn't do well this year. My thought would be that they need more space, maybe the raised bed next year will do the trick.

Gail said...


So sorry! I wish I had some zucchini growing advice.
This has been a hard year for plants with our lack of rain. Speaking of rain, it's raining here and how about where you live?


Daphne said...

Oh I'm so sorry to hear about your zucchini. Definitely give them more than one square foot. The plants are just too huge. I had a bed that was four by four feet and planted one yellow squash and one zucchini. This worked out well, but even that was hard. The zucchini kept wanting to shade out the yellow squash.

I really like your idea to grow them vertically. I think it would need a heavy post to do it though since they are so heavy. These plants slowly wander and like to grow to shade out anything in its path. Vertically it would be safer for the rest of the garden.

BTW I've had trouble with your feed for ages, but today for the first time, your post came through to bloglines. Now if it would only come through to Blotanical so I could pick your posts.

Dawn said...

Yep, zucchini needs alot of space and the roots are deep. I mostly mound mine with about a 5 gal bucket shape, full of compost, underneath it.

DP Nguyen said...

Hi Rob, That is very confusing to me too. That zucchini is sitting alone. I'm surprised you can grow it with two cucumbers. I guess next year, I'll have to build it a lone box.. maybe a raised box.

Hi Cindy, I really think giving them more space would help. I'll have to try it next year.

Hi Gail, I do think the lack of rain is a big problem. I noticed this morning there were lots of rain droplets on my windowsill, so it must have rained last night. I'm very happy for it!

Hi Daphne, Thanks for all the advice. Next year, I will give it much more space. I just had no idea how big it would grow!

As for the problems with the feed, I have absolutely no idea why that would happen. I'm a newbie at all this blog techie stuff, so I hope someone can help me figure it out, lol.

And I have no idea how to work blotanical. I don't think that site likes me. It seems so hard to do anything! Grr!

Hi Dawn- Yep, I had no idea how much space the zucchinis would need, crazy! Next year, I'll make sure they get enough room.

Gisele Schoene said...

It is frustrating when our plants die. I feel for you. I was not lucky with zucchini this year too. I planted 2 packages of seed and only 2 plants survived barely. The problem with mine were insects eating the base of the plants. Did you notice any 'rotten' stem close to the soil in your plants? A friend told me she bought an organic product on line (I forgot the name) that solved her problem. I will try next year.
About the pond, it was easy to install, you need lots of muscles to dig. The trick part is make it level. Setting the rocks is lots trial and error, until you are happy. My friend bought a pond kit with lights for 50 dollars at Sam's.

tina said...

Funny because I have had a bumper crop this year. Maybe a squash vine borer got to the stem? Or maybe it was worn out. I think zucchini would work here but it would almost need a whole bed. Mine is out of my beds too but that is too be expected. Sorry about yours.

Nathan's Garden said...

Sorry to hear about your Zucchinni. When I grow mine I dig big holes in the winter and fill them with kitchen scraps until full. Then I cover with compost and plant them out in spring. They go mad in the really rich soil. Good luck next year with your raised beds.

Susie said...

Don't feel too bad D.P. I had the same problem with mine. Sounds like lots of people did.

I know I had insects eating some of the fruit, maybe they were eating the stems as well and I just couldn't see them.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with the others on them needing alot of space. I grew mine in a container and it did well until recently. I got about 8-10 yellow squash from one plant. I am trying to come up with a better solution for next year too.

Emily said...

Sorry your zucchini didn't make it. I crowded mine this year and it didn't produce very well. I think in the Square Foot gardening book they say to give each zucchini a 3 foot by 3 foot space in your bed. I guess I'll try that next year.

Eve said...

I do grow them in my square foot garden but I give them a 2 ft by 2 ft space, the same I give tomatoes.

Dave said...

I bet it was the squash vine borer. I had a few of them decimate our squash plants and they would love your zucchinis. If you still have some viable stem growth you could try burying it and seeing if it will re-root further up the stem.

John said...

Sorry to read about your zucchini. It's really screwed up when a plant starts going down like that for no reason. Maybe next year you'll have lots of luck with them.

Skeeter said...

We have yet to pick our first Zucks! They keep rotting off the plant. arggg. Same thing happening to the crooked neck squash but we have picked two good ones though...

DP Nguyen said...

Hi Gisele, It sounds a lot of people were not lucky with zucchinis this year. Maybe next year, we'll have better luck. My stem did look rotten, hmm, maybe a bug got it. A vine borer, like Dave says.

Thanks for the info about the pool. I have a man who has the strength and the wallet. lol. Maybe I'll get him to build me a pond. He loves fish :-)

Hi Tina, I am thinking it must have been the squash vine borer, but what can you do about that? Very sad business.

Hi Nathan, what an interesting idea. I might do that and just let that hole compost before I plant it. Hmm... very nifty idea. Thanks! And thanks for visiting my blog!

Hi Susie, zucchinis are sure hard to grow. maybe next year, I'll do better or at least research it a little more before i start planting. Or I might have trial and error, like this time. :-)

Hi perennial Garden lover, wow, i am impressed that your squash did so well in the container. 8-10 squash or zucchini would be a dream for me. I'm not a huge eater so just getting that many would be enough to fill me up for the entire season!

Hi Emily, I do agree that I did have a space issue this year. Maybe next year, I can give it more space or at least devote an entire box to zucchini.

Hi Eve, I think I've given up on the square foot garden with squash. I will stick to the tomatoes. They do so much better in the SFG than the other veggies. I do need to figure out the space issue.

Hi Dave, I bet it was the vine borer. I should have been more cautious I guess, but is there a solution to that awful calamity? Good idea about the rerooting, I will try that.

Hi John, I know, it is just so depressing to see your fruit not do so well. Thanks, I hope i have better luck next year too!

DP Nguyen said...

Hi Skeeter- Sorry about your lack of zucchinis. Although squash is good too. I wish I had some squash. maybe next year!

lola said...

Hi dp. Sorry about your zucchini. I had 3 different kinds planted & none of them did anything. The vine borer got all of them. Maybe get some chicken manure & put it in the spot where you plan on putting your zucchini or yellow squash & see if that won't help. Let it lay there all winter--then by next Spring it will be ready. I also heard to put some kind of lime in soil & that will help.
I noticed your plant looked like it had some kind of mildew. Isn't that a virus?

DP Nguyen said...

Hi Lola, I read that mildew on zucchini was normal and doesn't harm the plants. Oh well, who knows? I wish I had some chicken manure, but where do you get that? I don't have a chicken, lol.

Barbee' said...

dp, just chalk this year up as a learning experience; next year will be better. I like Nathan's idea for nutrients. You'd think that a bunch of gardeners could figure out something or some way to outsmart the squash vine borer moth. But, no. :(

The only thing I know to do is to familiarize yourself with it and the signs to watch for (maybe read up on it on the Internet), then next year keep an eye out for the tell-tale signs (sawdust looking stuff), then kill the larva by sticking a pin through the vine, larva and all, or, slit the stem length ways where the larva is located, remove larva, smash larva, then cover cut spot of vine with soil and let it root. If it is located at the crown or stem (where the roots and vine are joined), I'm not sure what to do. I would try to encourage the vine to roots along as it grows. Then if the crown is damaged, the vine would still have roots to keep it going.

This year I have a pumpkin vine (miniature pumpkins). I wanted to place newspaper beneath each pumpkin to keep it off the ground, but when I finally went out there to do it, I discovered the long vines had rooted into the grassy lawn as they grew. Maybe squash will root like that too.