What’s going on with my zuchhinis ?! — Problem(s) that I have encountered cultivating zucchinis this summer
As you might have read in my previous post, we have started to grow our own food in our suburban garden. I started out with easy “beginner” plants, in order to avoid frustration.
One of the easiest plants to cultivate probably are zucchini. We decided to grow them from seeds rather than buying young plants as we wanted to make sure that our seeds/plants are not hybrids/patented/GMO’s. We also wanted them to be regional and organic.
So far the zucchini plants have been growing great, however the harvest has been below expectations. We have 6 zucchini plants in individual plant pots that can hold 20 kg of soil each.
Each plant is supposed to produce 20 – 30 zucchinis, however this is far from realtiy for us. So far we have harvested 3 zucchinis from our 6 plants. Not only are our plants producing very few zucchinis – 2/3rds of the “baby”-zucchini will get soft, wrinkely, turn yellow and eventually die off.
And we have absolutely no idea why. Obviously I have spent quite a bit of time googeling the problem. Most forums and expert sites will agree that this is what happens when a zucchini flower has not been pollinated. But I am not convinced that this is “it”for us. It may apply to a part of the zuchhinis that die off, however for the big majority of our zucchinis half of the vegetable continues to grow, is firm to the touch and gets bigger, while the other half stays tiny, soft and wrinkely.
For a while we thought that maybe they didn’t get enough water, but this doesn’t seem to be the solution either. The problem continues to occur even though we water them thoroughly twice a day. Our next thought was – not enough nutrients. We did add compost twice so far, but maybe this is not enough for these high nutrient-demanding plants. Maybe manure would be a better fertiliser — but where to get it from ? We will have to stop by the local farms and ask whether they can provide us with small quantities of manure. There is an argument that strongly supports this hypthesis. The cucumber plants (these are equally high nutrient-demanding plants) that do grow in plant pots right next to our zucchini are huge, flowering — and haven’t produced any cucumbers yet.
Two days ago, one of our neighbours stopped by and had a look at our zuchhini. She is growing some herself and even though her plants are tiny they do produce huge amounts of zuchhini. She told us that she never waters them and suggested that maybe we water them too much. This would lead to the plants spending to much energy on producing and maintaining huge leaves instead of producing zuchhinis.
This sounds logical to me, so over the next couple of days I will stop watering the zucchini (and look for manure) and we will have to see what happens. With a little bit of the luck, the rest of this summer will be full of delicious zucchini !
I will let you know in an update how things have worked out for us!
UPDATE 1 : 02.08.2016 :
Ok, so here is what has happened so far: I found out that big leaves and little produce most likely mean that the plant got too many nutrients. I only added but two handul of compost to the “normal” soil I planted the seeds into. But this theory still sounds about right. Our soil probably was very rich in nutrients to begin with, so adding even a tiny amount of compost was too much. The leaves of my cucumber plants are now gradually becoming smaller as they start to produce more zucchinis now. We also stopped watering them.
Yesterday I was able to harvest 4 (!!) zucchinis. That’s still not terrible for 6 plants, but hey – at least it is better than nothing :-). We are on our way to zuchhini-self-sufficiency and we will not give up until we get there!
Have you encountered this – or another – problem with your zucchini plants yet ? Do you have an idea/solution for this problem ? Please let me know in the comments below !! Any advice will be very welcome !
Have a great Saturday and until next week!