Squash Family

This one's for Kristen. Kristen asks when I plant zucchini. I LOVE zucchini. Mostly because I've probably had as much success with it as I have had with chard... almost, but not quite. The one enemy of zucchini is a cold night and lots of moisture. The squash family in general, I've found, suffers from powdery mildew in my little northwest plot. It's a quick growing plant, especially during our hot/dry months in Oregon. So, I wait on this one until I know spring is nearing an end. I actually often plant zucchini starts though so I can wait a little later.

This year I'm aiming for having zucchini planted by the end of this month (because it's been really rainy and I can't plant until the soil dries out a little bit, otherwise I would probably do it this weekend. That and it's been extremely cold this month). I plant it in mounds too because they like to drink. You build a little hill up around the plants and then dig out a little moat around the hill. This allows you to give the plant a good big soaking of water that goes directly to the roots and away from the leaves. The less overhead watering the better.

Powdery mildew likes moisture on the leaves and cool nights. It grows just like it sounds - as a white moldy looking splotch that will eventually take over the entire leaf part of a plant. It's inevitable in the fall here in the northwest, but you can avoid it the rest of the year. Don't water the plants at night except on the hottest of weeks. Watering in the morning allows the leaves to dry before the temps get cool. Watering in the morning also gives your plants a chance to soak up all the moisture they can before the heat of mid-day begins to evaporate the water into the air. So, it allows for better water use management too. If you water in the middle of day you loose a lot of the water (you just paid for) as it simply disappears into the hot air. It also gives your plants a chance to soak up water that helps them get through a hot day! On those 90 degree plus weeks (when we actually have day after day of hot) I water at night so the plants can have a full night to soak up the water. Those nights it usually stays warm anyway. ONLY water at night in the NW when you have a plot in direct sun and it's been above say 90 degrees for at least 3 days in a row!

I plant my zucchini first, fall squash later.

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