Gardentalk – Nip that flower after pollination

A sugar pie pumpkin flower opens in the early morning sunlight in a North Douglas garden. Visible just to the immediate right is a previously bloomed flower that has fallen onto a leaf and began developing mold. At the far right is a cucumber plant that needs support up off the soil's surface.

A sugar pie pumpkin flower opens in the early morning sunlight in a North Douglas garden. Visible just to the immediate right is a previously bloomed flower that has fallen onto a leaf and begun developing mold. At the far right is a cucumber plant that needs support up off the soil’s surface. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)

In this week’s edition of Gardentalk, Master Gardener Ed Buyarski starts out with a listener question that is very appropriate for this week’s cooler, wet weather.

“How do I keep my Zucchini and Squash from rotting?” asks Christine.

The best way to prevent rot or fungus is to remove the plant’s female flower when it starts shriveling up. Buyarski said it’s a sign the flower has already served its purpose in the pollination process.

“That dying flower is a perfect avenue for fungus to attack,” Buyarski said. “The flower first and then go into the end of the zucchini.”

For plants in a greenhouse, don’t forget to ventilate by turning on fans and opening doors, windows and vents.

Other methods include removing leaves and branches — particularly those that are yellow and dying — at the bottom of the plant near the soil to enhance air circulation.

Buyarski said such techniques are also useful to prevent fungus development on cucumbers and tomatoes.

Use care while watering so that fungus spores in the dirt are not splashed up on the plant.

Trim off extraneous tomato and cucumber stems and provide ample support with cages or string for lifting the plants up off the soil.

On a related subject, Buyarski had another reminder to harvest all your garlic now, regardless of whether all the stems and leaves still haven’t all turned yellow. White mold will soon develop in the lower stem and creep into the bulb.

Listen to the July 25 edition of Gardentalk about squash flowers and coffee grounds:
 

 

Finally, most gardeners have their own technique for trapping or eradicating slugs, like beer and bricks. But Buyarski said a gardening friend told him that old coffee grounds spread out on the soil’s surface seems to keep many slugs at bay. And it’s good for plants when it breaks down in the soil, too.

Do you have a garden question for Ed? Fill out the form below, and he’ll answer your question in an upcoming segment.

Listen to past episodes and subscribe to the podcast on the “Gardentalk” page, so you’ll never have to worry about missing Thursday’s live radio broadcasts.

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