Yesterday, I posted about a concern I was finding with our Red Kuri/Little Gem winter squash. I also shared photos in some gardening groups I’m on, and of course, did some searches.
I greatly appreciated the feedback that I got from all over. Some had suggested it was a pollination problem, but that seemed to be from people seeing the pictures of the dying fruit, and not seeing my question about the yellowing leaves. Thankfully, we have not had any shortage of pollinators, unlike some other gardeners I’ve been hearing from. Others suggested blossom end rot. That would be due to watering problems, particularly over watering. In this location, and with our soil (or lack of it), over watering would be very difficult to do. Under watering could be an issue, but these plants are watered the same as everything else at the squash tunnel.
Other possibilities included squash borers, which there are no signs of, and the pattern of yellowing would have been reversed from what is happening. Fungal disease was another possibility, as was root rot. Both of which I could rule out pretty confidently. Insect damage in general could also be ruled out.
Nutritional deficiency seems to be the most likely cause. Everything at the squash tunnel has been fertilized a couple of times with high nitrogen fertilizer, and lack of nitrogen is one of the possible nutrient deficiencies, but I ‘also had suggestions that lack of calcium, iron and even magnesium might be contributing factors. None of those are included in the soil tests I did! It could simply be that this type of squash has higher nutritional needs than the melons and squash on either side of it. There are five of this type of squash, and all five are affected, while nothing around them are having the same issues, which suggests to me that it this variety is simply a heavier feeder than the others.
This morning, I pruned away all the dead and dying leaves at the bottom of the plants, as well as trimmed away the stems from leaves that had been nibbled on, previously. There were very few of those; it’s the winter squash next to them that is getting the worst of the nibbles!
There was quite a bit to trim away! What I found interesting was what was revealed, once these leaves and stems were removed.
There are fresh new leaves growing! Many are growing out of the stems right next to the dying leaves, as if the plants are trying to replace them as fast as it can.
This also opened things up so I could better check for things like fungal disease, insect damage, etc., just in case I’d missed something before.
In the end, lack of micro nutrients seems to be the most likely cause. That new leaves are coming up at the bottoms (no leaves higher up on the trellis needed to be trimmed), is encouraging.
The big, beautiful flowers, and the still healthy developing squash is also very encouraging!
On a completely different garden topic, I was checking out the corn and sunflower blocks, and taking a closer took at some of the developing seed heads.
This Mongolian Giant is typical; one large seed head developing at the top.
Then there was this one, two stalks over.
This one has a whole bunch of little seed heads starting to develop, all down the stem! Pretty much every leaf on this plant is showing a baby seed head growing in their elbows.
I remember we had a sunflower last year do this, too! Sadly, none had a chance to mature before that first frost hit. Hopefully, these have more time to develop, and we’ll have seed heads to harvest as something other than bird feed this year!