Tips for a Successful Zucchini, Squash and Cucumber Harvest

Tim McDermott, OSU Extension Educator- Franklin County ,Previously posted on VegNet Newsletter

For many backyard growers, community gardeners and urban farmers, growing the cucurbits can be a challenge.  This vegetable (fruit?)  family is affected by a large number of garden insects as well as both bacterial and fungal disease.  There are a few tips and tricks that can be used to make sure some harvest makes it to the table or sales booth in 2019.

First thing to do is mind your pollinators.  Cucurbits are commonly dependent on pollinators as they have separate male and female flowers.  Once the flowers emerge, use of pesticides can damage pollinators and lead to decreased harvest.

The male flower is at the bottom right. It is simply a flower at the end of the stem. The female flower of this yellow summer squash is behind the male flower and has an immature fruit at the base.

Scouting is a very important part of the Integrated Pest Management strategy.  I had not seen cucumber beetles in large numbers until the July 4th holiday weekend.  Then I started to see them in moderate to large numbers on my summer squash in central Ohio.


Adult Striped Cucumber Beetle. This bug will damage leaves, stems, flowers, and fruit while feeding. It also transmits a bacterial wilt that can rapidly cause death in cucurbit plants.



This is an adult squash vine borer. They lay eggs at the base of the stems and their larvae then tunnel through the stem of the plant disrupting vascular flow and often killing the plant.











These plantings of winter squash, both Waltham Butternut and Buttercup, died over the last weekend in July while the summer squash persisted. Suspects include squash vine borer damage or bacterial wilt from cucumber beetles.


Squash bugs are another common pest of cucurbits that can be present in large numbers in plantings.

Squash bug eggs are laid white, then rapidly change color to bronze. They are commonly found on the underside of cucurbit leaves and should be removed immediately when discovered and discarded away from the plants.

This is the juvenile form of squash bugs. They can achieve large numbers fairly rapidly.

Using Cover Crops for Weed Control in Spring

By; Tim McDermott, Extension Educator, Ohio State University (Sourced: VegNet Newsletter)

Cover Crops are a valuable tool in the toolbox of the backyard grower, community gardener and urban farmer.  I planted a mix of cover crop species last fall in my community garden plot to keep the soil alive over the winter, prevent erosion and increase soil organic matter.

Winter rye, forage radish, hairy vetch and crimson clover blend

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What’s your GDD?

Amy Stone, Extension Educator- Originally posted on the Buckeye Yard and Garden onLine

Has anyone every asked you, “what’s your GDD?” While many of you may have responded “yes,” or may have even thought, “I ask others all the time“; I know there are some that probably yelled out their current GDD when simply reading the title of this alert. If you are still wondering what the heck is GDD – keep on reading, you won’t be disappointed and will hopefully click on the link below to find out your GDD to date.


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Originally posted at CFAES.OSU.EDU

A confounding new disease is killing beech trees in Ohio and elsewhere, and plant scientists are sounding an alarm while looking for an explanation.

In a study published in the journal Forest Pathology, researchers and naturalists from The Ohio State University and metroparks in northeastern Ohio report on the emerging “beech leaf disease” epidemic, calling for speedy work to find a culprit so that work can begin to stop its spread.


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Managing Cucurbit Powdery Mildew

By Sally Miller, Plant Pathologist OARDC, Originally posted on July 26, 2018 on the VegNet Newsletter

Powdery mildew arrived this week on squash, pumpkins and other cucurbits throughout Ohio. It is a little late – we often see it by early- to mid-July.  The fungus that causes cucurbit powdery mildew does not overwinter in Ohio, so the disease does not appear until spores arrive on wind currents from warmer growing areas.  This fungus is an unusual plant pathogen in that it is inhibited by free water – so frequent rains may delay powdery mildew’s appearance, at least to a notable level.  Signs of infection are small circular powdery growths (mycelium and spores of the pathogen) on either side of the leaf. These spots enlarge and can eventually cover most of the leaf surface and kill the leaves.  Stems and leaf petioles are also susceptible, but the disease is not observed on fruit.  In pumpkins, powdery mildew may also attack the “handles”, which can be further damaged by secondary pathogens.


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Summer Season Extension Using Shade Fabric for Cool Weather Crops

By: Tim McDermott, Franklin County Extension Educator, Orginially posted on August 2, 2018 in the VegNet Newsletter


Season Extension is when a vegetable, herb or fruit is grown outside its normal growing season using protection from the elements in some way.  While it is most commonly used over the winter to take advantage of Ohio’s four seasons of growing, it is also applicable in summer when growing vegetables that prefer cooler weather.  A part of the community garden plot opened up after cucurbit production decreased from cucumber beetle damage and bacterial wilt.

Was planted with zucchini and cucumbers from mid-May until late July

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Soil Temps Determine Planting Time

Originally posted on the Buckeye Yard and Garden onLine- May 21, 2018

By: Erik Draper

Soil Thermometer

One of the most often asked vegetable questions during this early season is “How soon can I plant my tomatoes and peppers in the garden?”  There are two reasons that the northeast Ohio gardener’s rule of thumb is “wait for Memorial Day” before planting out the tender annuals like tomatoes, peppers and green beans.  The first reason is the possibility of a frost is almost eliminated by waiting until Memorial Day.  Those tender annual plants like squash, tomatoes, green beans and peppers, cannot tolerate a frost event or even lower temperatures at all!

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Hardy Succulents

Lori A. Reehorst, Penn State Master Gardener, Originally posted at Penn State Extension Master Gardener Programs

Hardy succulents are a delight to those who consider themselves to have a black thumb.The word succulent literally means “juicy plant.” Most are hardy to USDA zone 5 (-10 to -20) and some can survive in temperatures as low as (-30 to -40). They easily propagate and are low maintenance. They can be severely neglected and still thrive. In fact, the only growing requirement that cannot be deviated from is that hardy succulents must be planted in well-drained soil to ensure adequate drainage.

Do you live in an area where your soil has a lot of clay? No problem – just amend the soil with 50% or more of pumice, perlite, coarse grit or sand and you’ll be ready to plant hardy succulents. To reveal the fullest most robust colors of hardy succulents, full sun planting is recommended.

For optimal growth, a 5-10-10 fertilizer is recommended 1-2 times during spring. The numbers for the fertilizer stand for the nutrient components: Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K). Bone meal (a mixture of ground animal bones, 4-12-0) can be applied to the soil anytime. Bone meal is basically a boost of Phosphorus which is promoting root and tissue growth.

Common hardy succulents that are often found in local greenhouses include SempervivumSedum, and Delosperma;rarer species includes Jovibarba heuffeliiRosularia and Orostachys. To find these plants you usually have to scour specialty greenhouses or rock garden suppliers.

Sempervivum (sem-per-VIV-um)

also called Hens and Chicks, are very popular hardy succulents and this word translates to mean “Live Forever.” There are over 3,000 cultivars and they have many different textures and forms. Most Sempervivum produce tight clumps that form mounds and their colors are not only shades of green, but can also include silver-blues, purple, red, orange, brown and delicate pinks. Sempervivum propagate by producing at least four “baby chicks” per growing season. Chicks can be left attached to the mother plant or removed to start new a new plant elsewhere.

Houseleek, Sempervivum, Stone Garden

Sedum (SEE-dum)

also called Stonecrop, has two primary shapes. It is shaped like low spreading ground cover or can be a two foot shrubby mound. They look great both in the landscape and in containers mixed with other plants. Colors range from smoky blue to rich burgundy. Provided it gets enough light, Sedum will produce flowers. Propagation occurs easily by removing and replanting the plant’s offsets, replanting cuttings, or by allowing the plant to self-seed.

Sedum Rubrotinctum, Sedum, Plant, Summer

Delosperma (delo-o-SPERM-a)

is the favored “Ice Plant.” It is often used as ground cover and is ideal for planting in rock gardens. This attractive succulent has fleshy green foliage, low spreading stems and bright shimmering flowers that add color and texture to gardens. You can reduce reflected heat and glare by planting them in areas covered with gravel mulch.

Ice Plant, Delosperma'S, Blossom, Bloom

Jovibarba heuffelii (yohv-ih-BAR-ba | heff-EL-ee-eye)

one of the lesser known hardy succulents, is also called Jupiter’s Beard. This succulent is commonly mistaken as Hens and Chicks. They offer a palate of rich colors that do not fade in the scorching sun. This unique succulent is multiplied by cutting the offsets (baby plants) which often grow between the leaves of the mother plant with a knife. If you choose to not multiply this plant, it will grow into a large beautiful mounding clump. Each plant produces five or more new rosettes each season. Propagation can also occur by seed however since these plants are hybrids, the new seedling will not be identical to the mother plant.

Two more rare and interesting hardy succulents are Rosularia (ros-uh-LAIR-ee-a) which resembles small Hen and Chicks growing in dense clusters and Orostachys (or-oh-STAK-ees), often called Dunce-Caps. Both look similar to Sempervivum, but are in fact closely related to sedum. These two interesting plants take a little more effort to grow, but are worth it.

If you choose to grow hardy succulents in containers more attention is needed for drainage. A typical succulent container mix is half peat moss or compost and half drainage material such as perlite, coarse sand, coarse vermiculite or pumice. Adding bone meal or a low nitrogen slow release fertilizer such as 2-10-10 is also recommended when planting in containers.

Although all of the above plants enjoy full sun and are drought tolerant, succulents are not cactus and to remain their healthiest, they should be watered weekly if there is no rain in the forecast. If your succulents are located in the shade, less watering is needed. Ideally, soil should dry thoroughly between waterings. The most common pest for succulents is aphids. Rinsing the plant with a strong stream of water is often enough to dislodge the aphids.

Another beautiful use of hardy succulents is in Living Art. This is the placement of succulent cuttings in a shadow box for vertical display. The cuttings take root after a few weeks and the shadow box is then hung or leaned against a wall outside. As long as a some shelter is provided in the winter, such as being placed in an unheated garage, the succulents in your Living Art will continue to thrive once spring arrives. If you start your succulent plantings this year – you’ll be well on your way to having enough cuttings to make your own Living Art next year! Hardy succulents really can be grown by anyone – even those who profess to have a black thumb.


**Photos not in original article. Photos added for this this blog. Photos from Pixabay.