Monday, July 18, 2011

2011 Squash Patch

It's been a while since I've written anything about my squash patch, but there are some topics that I want to cover this season. I've cut back on my market gardening efforts this year, but I did plant a significant squash patch on June 26. That's about my usual time for planting squash. I wait to see squash bugs before planting. When the bugs don't find any squash growing in my garden they leave and go elsewhere. The late-growing squash are generally not bothered by squash bugs.

This season may be different. Cold and rainy weather delayed growth and development of both crops and pests by about 3 weeks, maybe more. I didn't want to wait for the bugs for much beyond end of June, or there will not be time for fruit to develop. We'll see if planting late means avoiding bugs this year.
So, here's my squash patch as it looked on June 27, looking south toward our house and small young orchard. There are 60 squash hills, each with about 3 seeds planted. As in previous years, there are lots of squash varieties, including three types of patty pan shapes , three round zucchini, two middle-eastern varieties, and about 6 regular zucchini varieties, all in dark green, light green and yellow varieties. In addition, I have seed from the F1 generation of a mutant plant that grew in 2008. I saved the seed, and planted some in 2009 and more in 20010. I had some interesting shapes that I called minaret, green papaya pear, and avocado. This year I planted some of the 2009 seed again (I did not get any fruit in 2010). So I want to document my simple efforts at plant breeding and seed saving this season. New shapes will be a nice addition to the squash that I sell.

Temperatures had warmed enough by early July for quick seedlings emergence. Here's one of the first hills to have cotyledons emerging, on July 4.

This photo shows the seedlings for one of the more advanced hills as of July 15, the day after an irrigation. There are three or four leaves beyond the cotyledons at this point for many of the hills. The seeds are slower to germinate in some hills. A few hills had to be replanted.

Here's the squash patch on July 15. Look close and you'll see the young squash seedlings. There are also quite a few weeds. The tallest "weeds" are alfalfa plants. I'm going to try to keep them in the garden so that when the season is over, the alfalfa will still be around to serve as a cover crop next year.