Squash problems

Hi everyone,

Has anyone else had real difficulty with both Summer and Winter squash this year?
I planted seed early and had good seedlings for both types, but my Summer varieties really struggled with the damp weather and the Winter ones all started out very strong and healthy, then failed and died without producing any fruit.
I managed to get some courgettes and patty pans, but not the numbers I usually get.
Just wondered if it was me, doing something wrong, or a general problem.
I grow all my fruit and veg in containers, feed with organic fertiliser and chicken manure, but haven’t had such a high failure rate previously.

Hi Louise, yes, I had no success with courgettes either. I started them in my little polytunnel, planted them out after the last possible frost date as strong seedling plants. They were mulched, fed and watered as usual using manure from my farm, from animals fed on hay and pasture that I grew, so I know for a fact there have been no pesticides, herbicides or other 'cides for at least ten years. But my crops were very poor. I grew four varieties of courgette, so it’s not that I had a dodgy batch of seed. I simply got very few flowers, neither male nor female and I put it down to the weather. The pumpkins fared a little better but the fruit were smaller than I’d expected.
My mother, who lives only 600m from me, grew patty pan squash in her unheated polytunnel and it was a triffid! This just adds to my suspicions that it comes back to the weather.
And with that being out of our control, we simply have to learn to adapt to suit it. We, as amateur gardeners, are so very lucky in that we have so much choice in our varieties of fruit and veg that we can grow. While we need to embrace the benefits that some F1 varieties offer us in pest and disease resistance, it’s vital we don’t lose heirloom and heritage varieties which give us adaptability to our changing climate.
Don’t lose heart, try again next year and maybe consider growing different varieties. Get together with family and friends who garden and share seeds, all buy a different variety of cauliflower, for example, and everyone still grows a dozen caulis, but maybe only 2 or 3 of each type. Then you can compare to see which variety worked in your garden, without having to fork out for enough seeds to last five years!
You might find some new favourites this way. Good luck, whatever you choose to do.

I had problems too, both in my raised beds and in containers. I have huge pots that I grow pumpkins and squash in and let them vine over trellis. Changed the soil before planting out really sturdy seedlings and they just sat there. I watered and fed but we had a very hot and early spring and they didn’t seem to like that followed by too much rain and eventually they started to flower about late August. I, like you had a few patty pans and the courgettes did really well. Really disappointing as they are usually my favourite crop to grow, in the end I just put it down to the weather. 3 years ago I had a superb harvest but it was hot and rainy on and off and I think they just prefer their weather more mixed or usual.

Hi AlliG,
Thanks for the reply. I think I’m already ahead of your suggestion there!!
I have about 12 varieties of courgette and squash, including some long Sicilian and Italian varieties. I’m going to give them a go in the greenhouse next year.
I tend to get a bit carried away when searching for and buying seeds; I think I bought around 30 new seed varieties of squash, tomato, aubergine, carrot and cabbage seeds this year, for planting next year. Trouble is, I seem to do this every year!
I particularly like Franchi seeds, as they always give great results.
Lets hope the weather will improve for a better harvest next year.