email our webmaster.
CUCUMBERS AND SQUASH
Bill Pelan writes:
For several years now, I have been trying to find a way to grow
cucumbers and squash, without losing them to cucumber wilt, squash vine
borers, squash bugs and cucumber beetles. Last year was the first time I
have succeeded in having cucumbers for the entire summer. Here is what
The main problem is dealing with wilt. It is a bacterial disease spread
by cucumber beetles. Unfortunately, just one cucumber beetle feeding
on a nearby infected plant and then on one of your healthy vines can
spread the disease. Complete elimination of feeding by these beetles is
needed for success. Last year I grew my vines on a vertical trellis of
chicken wire about 3’ wide and 6’ tall with 3 or 4 plants on each
trellis. I covered the trellis on both sides and top with reemay insect
barrier fabric secured with clothespins. At the ground I placed bricks
on the cloth to secure the bottom. It is important that there are no
gaps through which insects can enter.
I planted seed at the base of this trellis and the vines grew upward.
Normally, the cover would need to be removed when the plants begin to
bloom, in order to allow for pollination. Here is the trick. I
planted a parthenocarpic cucumber variety named ‘Sweet Success’. A
number of parthenocarpic varieties are available. Parthenocarpic
plants set fruit without pollination, and better yet are seedless, so
they remain edible even when quite large. Because of this I was able
to leave the cover on all season and simply remove clothespins when I
needed to pick. For added insurance I sprayed Neem on the cover a
couple of times when I was spraying other vegetables and had leftover
spray in the tank. One of Neem’s main modes of action is as an insect
repellant. I had far more cucumbers than my family could eat.
This year I plan to expand to growing parthenocarpic varieties of summer
squash. I’ve chosen the variety ‘Cavilli’ available from Territorial Seed. I plan to drape reemay fabric over the plants and secure it
to the ground. I think I will also grow my cucumbers on the ground this
year in the same fashion. Keeping the upright trellis closed with
clothespins was a little troublesome. I plan to amend the soil
heavily with leaf mold from Northway and an organic fertilizer. Then
cover the ground with black plastic to keep the fruit off the soil and
suppress weeds. For watering, I sink 1 gallon plant pots in the
ground and plant the seeds around the outside of the pot.
I’ve also ordered a new Neem product called Nymbiosys. It is the only
100% neem oil product available that is labeled for use on vegetables.
All of the other neem oil products are 70% extracts. They are
basically the junk that is left over, after the chemical companies
extract the most active ingredient, azadiractin, from the oil and sell
it separately at an elevated price. It is available from Neem Tree Farms in Florida.
Stop by for a visit and I’ll be glad to show you around.
The photo on the left illustrates what happens when young kale isn't
protected - it gets eaten by cabbage loopers. The kale on the right,
photographed on the same day (early October) was grown by Donna and
Brian, who protected it with row cover (the white mess on the ground to
the right) until it was about a foot tall.
Another member reports great success with Bacillus
thuringiensis or BT.
'Sun Gold' is grown exclusively by one member. It produces like crazy and is the perfect size for snacking - her grandchildren love it.