When I started our little raised vegetable garden, I didn’t do much planning or research. I just sort of planted whatever I thought we’d like to eat and figured I would learn as I go. Well, that’s exactly what I’m doing – learning. We’ve had some success – tons of radishes early in the spring and a good amount of sweet peas a bit later. But now I am learning some important lessons about growing summer squash.
Lesson number 1: Summer squash plants get Really.Big. I mean, I knew when I planted them that they get big, but I only knew this in theory. I hadn’t ever grown them or seen them in person before and I wanted to be sure we were going to get some yellow squash and zucchini this summer. So I planted six. Three yellow squash and three zucchini. All in a single row that is only about 4 feet long. And they have taken over!
I’ve actually had to cut back one of the yellow squash plants because it grew over the side and cracked. However, since I did that, the plant has been producing bigger fruits so I guess it wasn’t a bad thing (more on that next)! I’m actually seriously considering doing the same thing to the largest zucchini plant, which is also growing over the side, because all of its fruits have been very skinny and only about 3 inches long.
A couple of weeks ago I noticed that all of the yellow squash fruits were only getting to be a couple of inches long and were starting to rot as soon as the flower wilted, if not before. Doing a bit of reading in Grocery Gardening and Rodale’s Vegetable Garden Problem Solver (these are not affiliate links), I think it was blossom-end rot, possibly caused by alternating hot dry times and unusually heavy rains we’ve had. Blossom end rot can happen when the plant doesn’t get enough calcium. In my case, this might have happened because of the wide fluctuations in moisture. Another reason could be that they were over-fertilized and grew too fast to let the calcium absorb. I didn’t actually add any fertilizer other than compost when I first planted them, but that could have contributed to the problem. Once I cut that biggest plant off at the crack in the main stem, the problem seemed to go away. This also happened to be around the time that the temperatures started to even out though, so the more consistent moisture levels may have actually been the solution. I don’t think the heavy rains alone were the issue. The bed drains pretty well, being raised and having good quality soil. I think it was the combination of heavy rains in between hot dry periods. Lesson number 2: keep moisture levels consistent.
As I mentioned, my largest zucchini plant (the one you can see hanging over the edge in the picture) is producing very small fruits. I am going to try cutting it back some to see if that helps. I figure I’m not getting anything out of it as it is now, so if this doesn’t work I’m not any worse off! It has, however, given me two nice sized fruits so it hasn’t been all bad.
The summer squash plants have gotten so large that my carrots and radishes are done for. They are actually growing UNDER the squash leaves at this point and not getting enough sun or air. Again, I greatly underestimated how large these guys would get.
This is what I’ve gotten from my summer squash crop so far.
And here are a few other joys from the garden.
A baby watermelon!
Mr. Stripey tomatoes (these are the first two).
And some daisies! (not from the vegetable garden, but they are just too cheery to be left out!!)
Looking for more on growing your own food? Check out my Pinterest board, Grow Your Own Food, for resources from around the web.