Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Losing the battle with powdery mildew

After several weeks of trying to rid my cucurbits (squash, zucchini, & cucumbers) of powdery mildew, I cut my losses and put basil in their place.

I have to admit my plants didn't have an easy time. My squash started late (from seed in May) on the north side of the building (we moved to a different apartment on the south side of the same building in August).
Here are my plants on June 28.
And again on July 13. The keen squash grower would note that you can already see powdery mildew spots on a few of the leaves, but I didn't notice.

The leaves started to yellow, so we moved it to the south side of the building on our kind neighbor's porch. There are also beans growing in the box (July 26).

But the plant finally had a female flower! I had hopes of squash!

But the leaves got worse...

...and worse (July 26).

But I had some beautiful squash flowers

And my little squash was growing (August 2).

In the meantime, I'd also planted some late zucchini and cucumbers that were in close proximity to the squash once I moved it to the porch (far right by the bike tire).

And I even had some female flowers on my zucchini! (note powdery mildew on stems)

Meanwhile, the squash was only making male flowers, probably because it was terribly stressed.

But the zucchini and cucumbers got powdery mildew too.
And so did my bee balm (Monarda) that I bought at the first Pilsen farmer's market.

You can see the dead and dying zucchini leaves (Aug 25).

This is the same squash from the earlier picture, but this is as big as it got. The vine leading to it is all dried up (August 25)

So with my one hope at a squash squashed and the other cucurbits dying...

I decided to yank them out (cucumbers shown)...

And transplant some basil in their place (September 3).

So ends my attempts at cucurbits this year. If I plant them again, I'll definitely use powedery mildew resistant varieties. This time I just used some seeds I had lying around from previous years when I lived in a place where I could garden in the ground. I think my squash might have survived if it were in a bigger container (I knew it was probably too small, but I wanted to try...), if I'd caught the powdery mildew earlier, and if it had more ground to put down extra roots off of the vine. Oh well. At least the basil is growing fabulously.

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