When/how to fertilize squash plants

Peter1142(Zone 6b)July 8, 2014

I have planted numerous cucurbits, including zucchini, butternut, acorn, small sweet pumpkins, and cantaloupe.

They are all growing well. Losing many fruits to lack of pollination, don't know why they are only open for a few hours in the morning, it seems anti-evolution. The bees aren't really active at 7am and they have a lot of competition. I think I managed to self pollinate a few.

Anyways, I think they need some fertilizer? I want to ask as when I last used less than the recommended amount of miracle gro I burned a lot of plants (mostly peppers). What should I use? I think they are eating up the nutrients as I planted a late zucchini in the hill with the older ones as a backup and he's pale and small and not doing so hot compared to the earlier ones.

Is it normal for a couple lower leaves that are not getting any sun to yellow and die, with vigorous top growth?

Can I also ask has anyone ever grown small sweet pumpkins? The vines seem to be crawling along and very small, they are 1/4 the size of the cantaloupes at best. It looks like there are some flowers beginning to develop, the vines are maybe 2 feet long.

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Bloomin_Onion(2/3)

Bees aren't the only pollinators. Moths and other winged creatures also pollinate, but bees are generally considered the best because 1. their pollination is the most famous as their flower-hopping work is a key element in the production of honey, and so we learn about that even as kids and 2. bees carry a tiny electrical charge I believe due to the friction of their wings paired with the tiny hairs on their bodies. Therefore, when they land on a flower, they "attract" pollen... they don't necessarily have to stomp all in it like the other insects, who may also to an extent carry a charge but I'm honestly not certain.

The female flowers in my garden here in southern canada are open well into the lunch hour, bright and firmly opened but do curl up and close by dinner time. Bees are at the height of activity during this time. There are more males than females to insure that enough opportunities arise for the bees to pick up pollen, but not pollinate so many female flowers that the plant will become stressed, as producing a fruit is a severe drain on a plants resources. The plant will usually only put out as many females as it can really support developing, which is why they don't simply "spring" up like the males which appear so haphazardly and quite quickly. Over time, as your plant grows, so will the number of females and you will find more and more fertilized squash as your plant has the ability to support maturing them.

As for the fertilizer, I'm not sure which you should use because I don't know what's in your soil. Do some research on soil testing and try to get your soil tested to see what your soil has a lot of, and what it's lacking. The test kit is not expensive and the process is not difficult. Here's a link for you to see how to do it:

http://www.mysquarefootgarden.net/soil-testing/

If you're just going to skip that and go get some fert, try to get a 5-10-10 (nitrogen-phosphorous-potassium) and get a slow release if you can and follow the instructions exactly so you don't over feed... but again, since you've already fertilized once and burned the plants, I would see what exactly is in your soil before you add more stuff. I don't know anything about your sweet pumpkins, but they sound good! :)

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 1:19AM
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Peter1142(Zone 6b)

Thanks for the advice. I did not test the soil but I think I will. I have been mostly unhappy with my yields thus far, definitely room for improvement.

Whatever is visiting my squash flowers, it isn't working. The only ones growing are the ones I polinated myself. I will just have to make it part of my morning to polinate squash.

I meant to say Small Sugar Pumpkins. They are now flowering these tiny flowers about a half an inch long. I don't know what's going on the seed packet doesn't list it as a dwarf plant. I hope it isn't some weird cross polination I won't get any fruit from. Anyone have any experience with these pumpkins?

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 8:59AM
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JCTsai(8B - Jacksonville, FL)

I use 10 to 1 diluted urine to water my long squash once a week, it is growing pretty well.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 11:47AM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

For fertilizing soil that has good organic matter and previous years rotted horse manure with a lot of hay in it, I like to scatter and work in some slow release fertilizer like Plant Tone in the planting hill or row and then band some faster release fertilizer around or along the plants. This lasts all season.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 11:57AM
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