Tag Archives: disease

the squash mystery

A mystery is casting a pall over the farm. (OK, fine, that’s not a pall, that’s my shadow. I didn’t want to post more depressing pictures of dead squash, can you blame me?)

Anyway, our squash continue to die: the ones that were wilting are now flat-lined into the soil. A post-mortem conducted on the dead ones, along with some vivisection conducted on those still living, revealed no oozy fluid associated with bacterial wilt. Nor could we find any vine borers, or evidence of vine borer entrance holes at the base of the plant (which were depicted in one of our organic gardening books). Curioser and curioser, as Alice said.

We ran through other possible culprits: too much water? Poor soil? But only a few plants are afflicted, and the whole block is being watered the same amount–besides, the death seems too sudden to be a water issue. (Ditto for the soil — it’s pretty even throughout the field, and wouldn’t plants show more evidence of a slow decline?) A disease not mentioned by any of our 5 books on organic gardening? We noticed a lot of different bugs on the dead plants, including some small white ones on the roots. But we didn’t read about any squash root-mites, and I wouldn’t exactly describe any of the bugs we saw as a major infestation. What else could the mystery death be?

Hmm. For now, we can only wait and see.

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the fate of the squash

The squash are our hope for the future: we have hundreds and hundreds of them planted. Delicata, acorn, kuri, butternut, various varieties of pumpkins, not to mention our zucchini, yellow crooknecks, canteloupes and melons. We went big on the winter squash, thinking it a particularly useful crop: since they store so well, they’ll make it to farmer’s markets week after week without a problem.

But suddenly, in a few distinct places, healthy, beautiful squash plants are in various stages of decay. First yellow leaves, then sustained wilt (utterly unresponsive to water), then a horrific sight: a completely flattened, point-of-no-return plant.

We have a ton of cucumber beetles here, and apparently they can carry a bacterium in their innards that can cause bacterial wilt. But apparently it could be any one of a number of problems

I’m scared! Potential losses of 50-100%? Tomorrow I guess I’ll start slitting vines to see if I can find vine borers…

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