Common Zucchini Problems

If you live in the humid region of the United States, growing Zucchini can be a real pain. High humidity breeds and homes thousands of bugs, so you need to watch your zucchini carefully. I suggest going out every morning to watch for a few things:

1) Is your plant wilting a ton? Check the base of the plant. If it’s covered with saw dust looking bits then it is the squash vine borer. Use a sharp knife and make an incision on the base of the stem, right above the infected area. Carefully pull it back and you should see the maggot/bug. Take him out and bury the cut you made in the plant. It should recover just fine.

A friend of mine, Jen, is an avid gardener in Oklahoma and recently had this problem! She was able to save some of her plants after taking those little grubby bugs out. Here’s a picture of her beautiful garden and a picture where the squash vine borer lived.

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2) Is your plant shriveling up, turning brown and falling off? Then that’s a pollinating issue that you’ll need to use a paint brush to manually help them pollinate. First you need to distinguish the male blossoms from the female blossoms:

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The male plants just have a nice long thin stem where as the females have kind of a plumpness (that eventually becomes a zucchini) under the flower. From there you take a small paint brush and run it across the center of the male blossom, where the pollen is. Then gently brush it over the center stigma of the female. Done!


3) Is your plant speckled and turning black? It’s the squash bug! Handpicking them seems to be the best way to kill them, just knock them off into a can of soapy water, but you can also use insecticide, like Bacillus thuringiensis, which is an organic insecticide. The best time to catch them is in the early morning hours when they’re still a little sleepy and not as alert.

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Squash home grown is so much tastier than store bought, plus in our grocery store it’s about .55 cents per zucchini! Outrageous.  With how much zucchini one plant can produce I’ve realized that it is well worth my time to keep it alive 🙂

Portia Westesen

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Are Earwigs bad for my garden?

I’m grateful at times for living in Utah. The climate is perfect, dry and sunny, and you don’t really have to worry that much about bugs. Which is a great thing for those vegetables that are prone to bugs. And although we don’t have a ton of bugs, we still have a few pesky ones that drive me crazy.

I went out into my garden yesterday and saw A TON of holes in my plants. WHAT?!

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I was a little on the panicky side for the entire day, thinking that my garden, along with a few gardens of some friends, would be eaten by bugs. Later that day I was trying to re-arrange my zucchini from taking over all my onions and shallots (BAD day for shallots) when I found these guys hiding in a trellis:

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….earwigs….

….I hate earwigs….

Not to mention the horror stories you grew up hearing about them crawling through your ear and eating your brain! (Which, FYI, is false).

But I have some good news about these guys, they aren’t all bad! And although they can make a few plants look like they have leprosy, they don’t  necessarily hurt them. Earwigs are also known for eating larvae, slugs, snails, and other garden foes. So in the long run, they might be worth keeping!

Portia Westesen

Tomato problems

My friend Lu recently sent me some pictures of a weird problem she was having with her tomatoes:

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It’s a problem that happens to tomatoes as well as squash, peppers, and some other fruiting vegetables. It’s called blossom end rot and is caused by a calcium deficiency in the plant.

It’s best to check your soil before planting season is underway (.. I forgot too..) since it takes a while for the calcium to be absorbed in the plant. But if you have already planted and are having the same problem, add lime, bone meal or manure to your plants base and scrape it in with a rake, then water well. I suggest planting a few extra tomato plants though, better more tomatoes then none at all!

Portia Westesen