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Garden Gleanings from Weed'em & Reap: Squash plants dying

Posted Wednesday, February 24, 2010, at 12:27 PM

Bacterial Wilt courtesy of Cornell University
One of our members has been bothered by squash plants dying suddenly, with blackened leaves. We ran through the normal suspects like disease, squash bugs feeding as well as spreading a disease and of course the beautiful but deadly vine borer. Nothing seemed to match exactly so we decided to do some research.

Turns out there are more blights, spots, wilts, mildews etc that can affect a squash plant than I ever thought. However, I found an excellent resource from Cornell University. Why excellent? Because it has a lot of picture examples of what they are talking about.


After you find a leaf that looks "sort of" like what you have, click on the particular cucurbit in your garden and you may see more examples, close-ups, etc.

See if this helps narrow in on the culprit. If it does, we can then pursue the solution.

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Hope no one is named Erwinia.

Well there is good news and bad news. Since the bad news is not good, I will hold that until later.

Good news: It is not something in your soil so you don't have to move your garden.

Good news: It is a fairly common issue, so there is a lot of thought and research surrounding the problem. Also if you like to read, there are volumes of conversations about it.

Good news: It is manageable, but.....

Bad news: It will take some effort to manage. I say manage because it is spread by insects that fly. The main one is the cucumber beetle.

There are numerous methods both chemical and organic to manage the problem, but if you notice, I said manage three times so far. That is because I do not think there is an absolute cure.

Here is a great discussion of methods. http://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/cucumber... I find it fascinating but, I have a twisted mind when it comes to growing. They talk about organic or chemical, physical control, biological, trap crops, pheromone traps, delayed planting, susceptible and resistant varieties, etc., etc.

-- Posted by stevemills on Thu, Feb 25, 2010, at 4:32 PM


It's Erwinia tracheiphila. But I couldn't find any solutions for it. I guess I'll keep researching...thanks for the help!

-- Posted by espoontoon on Thu, Feb 25, 2010, at 11:53 AM

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Steve Mills and his wife have one daughter. They previously owned two coffee/ice cream shops, currently operate an internet sales company and teach classes, but his primary job involves the paper industry worldwide. Hobbies and interests lie in gardening, photography, recorded music and of course, their pets.