August 25, 2016
The hard part about learning new things in the garden is that we’re not scientists. When my squash flowers shriveled without producing fruit, we tried everything suggested by the Glenn County Master Gardeners. We watered less, added some nutrients, checked for bugs. Just for good measure, we did a squash dance and sprayed away the ants and aphids.
I’ve also been out there every morning spreading pollen from the male flowers to any female flowers spotted on the vines.
It’s working. This week we harvested two yellow squash and can see a few more on the way.
However, how do I know what technique did the trick?
This is how old wives tales are created. Someone about my age says “last time my squash did not grow, I tied purple string around the leaves and suddenly I had 15 squash overnight.
To add more mud to the mix, I read recently that the dismal squash season could simply be due to the heat.
This week Nancy Lindahl mentioned in her Wednesday food column http://tinyurl.com/z9jrukg that tomatoes seem skimpy this year. (Check out her excellent tomato recipes in the same column).
Two weeks ago I chatted with almond grower Rocque Merlo, http://tinyurl.com/gl9m96o, who said very hot weather can lead to smaller nuts because cell production slows.
We’ve had several week-long hot streaks this summer. If that can make almonds smaller, why wouldn’t it slow down tomatoes and squash?
More hot weather woes
The website for Bonnie Plants, http://tinyurl.com/houkyzt includes hot weather advice, including varieties the company recommends for places where the summers are scorching.
Tomatoes, the Bonnie folks state, will fail to pollinate if the temps are 85-90 degrees in the day, and above 75 degrees at night.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been sleeping with just a sheet for most of the summer.
The article suggests placing tomatoes where they will receive direct sun just in the mornings, then partial shade for the heat of the day, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Not so-red when ready
The Bonnie folks also suggest picking fruit earlier. We’re waiting for tomatoes to become deep red. However, when it is 95 degrees or more for several days, the fruit may simply ripen to the color orange. You can pick fruit and let it continue to ripen indoors, the writers suggest.