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Monday, September 3, 2012

Snake Squash Growing in Mesquite Tree Not Fruiting


Q. This is the second year I planted Snake squash. As you can see by the attached picture they are very healthy and happy growing up my Mesquite tree. Last year I tried growing them in my garden and had the same problem, beautiful plants and no fruit. The blossoms appear, open then shrivel and fall off. What am I doing wrong?

A. I think you are always going to have problems with any plant that produces vegetables from flowers when it is growing in such low light levels with so much shade. Vegetables that you grow for their leaves do not require very high levels of light but vegetables grown for something they produce from their flowers usually requires much higher light levels.

If flowers do appear, try to discern the difference between male and female flowers. Like most squash, male flowers come first followed by female flowers. The female flowers need to be pollinated either by hand or by insects. If bees are few and far between then this may be a problem. Also they have a tough time setting fruit at high temperatures. All or any of these might be a problem for your plant.

I would recommend that if you want a vegetable that you consider enriching the soil and try to orient the plant so it gets a minimum of six hours of full sunlight. The of course  you want to fertilize it so that it can handle this type of production.

1 comment:

  1. I do not totally agree. I grow a lot of my food and I live in the high desert of California. Everything must be grown in shade here. I grow a lot of different squash (winter and summer) and pumpkins and they are all growing in 80% shade. They are situated so they get morning sun but by noon they are in shade. That said, squash doesn't like to fruit as well in extremely hot weather. You need bees too or else you are going to have to hand pollinate. You also need some deep mulch to hold the moisture on a consistent level. If that is a Tamarisk tree, they can suck up all the available water for hundreds of feet. I would suggest, overall to get Fukuoka's book "Sowing Seeds in the Desert". It looks like a healthy plant, not lacking in fertilizer. Are you growing at least 3 in each hole? You can't just grow one.

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