Saturday, July 9, 2011

Another one bites the dust

This is really starting to annoy me.  Last Monday I posted a picture of the winter squash bed with two robust winter squash plants – a Metro Butternut and Tiptop Acorn – both F1 hybrids from Johnny’s.  The next day the Acorn squash wilted badly.  I cut back about a third of the foliage and watered it.  It looked worse the next day.  I watered it some more.  After two days it was obvious that this squash plant was done for.  I cut it off at the base then, starting from the bottom, cut the stem up in ½ inch sections.  No sign of the borer.  Like the cucumber , it just wilted and died.  It looks like the chlorophyll just drained out of it.   This was the plant last weekend:

And a few days later:

Recently I did some deep thinking (yes I know, really scary) about the microenvironment for the vegetable beds.   I considered how much wind the beds are exposed to.  South and west of the beds a woodlot blocks the prevailing winds.  The woods also start blocking the evening sun in October and by Halloween they block most of the sun to the beds, which makes autumn crops a challenge.  The only way the beds get a fresh breeze is if the wind is from quadrant between NW and NE direction.   
The weather recently has alternated between cool rainy periods and spells of very hot still air.  Good conditions for microorganisms like fungi and bacteria.  I really have to factor in the lack of breeze when designing the layout next year.  This year I planted potatoes in cages because I thought holding the plants upright would allow more air movement.  I planted three cages of Red Pontiac but made the mistake of planting Yukon Gold in front (south) of the cages.  Next year I’m going to plant all the tater plants inside cages and plant something low, like onions, in front of the potato cages.  That should allow more air movement and give the potatoes enough sun.
So I was thinking (?) about what vegetable plants make sense here.  With 250 square feet of bed space planting on a whim or experimenting with varieties is a limited option.  I need a reasonable expectation that most of the plants that go into the beds will produce food.  If I find something that works, what are the chances I can find an even better variety?   
Winter squash are a prime example.  In three seasons I’ve planted Kabocha, Butternut, Acorn, and Delicata varieties.  I’ve lost the Acorn and Delicata to the borer.  This year the Acorn succumbed to something else.  The Kabocha did not get the borer but mildew cut yields to just a few squash. 
The butternut has outproduced all the other squash combined.  It’s never gotten the borer.  Powdery mildew slows it down but does not kill it.  It’s produced well every year. The butternuts keep all winter and they are very good.  From the information I've gotten in three growing seasons, it's hard to justify growing any winter squash other than the butternut in this particular space.

No comments:

Post a Comment