misshapen, bitter cucumbers, or no fruit on zucchini? some timely answers why

AROUND THIS TIME OF SUMMER everyone wants to know why their cucumbers are misshapen or bitter (or absent!), or their zucchini has lots of flowers, but no courgettes…yet. This story provides the answers. (Tomatoes can likewise be elusive when weather is brutal.) For those lucky ones with a glut of cukes and zukes, that link also includes tips on putting up the harvest–and a recipe for the best refrigerator pickles ever.

  1. Sara says:

    I planted seeds from a packet called English cucumbers. The picture on the pack showed a long dark green ridged cucumber. What I am getting is a long , ridged, WHITE, or very light green, cucumber. What is going on? They get plenty of water, growing in an earth box. They taste just like they should.
    But I find this strange.

    1. margaret says:

      Hi, Sara. I don’t know for certain but the important thing is that they taste good. :) Seriously, though, I believe white skin is a recessive trait in cukes, meaning occasionally it may display itself against the odds (when the typically dominant green gene doesn’t manage to dominate). You can read about a project breeding cukes to favor the pale skin here and here.

  2. Mary Margaret Cairns says:

    What has happened to my zucchini and acorn squash. they were producing great and just one day the leaves have all wilted and the plants are dying. It. didn’t happen to them all at the same time but over about 5 days. Thanks for the blog.

  3. Debbie Soike says:

    I also got only one cucumber this year. Totally invaded by cucumber beetles. They ate my squash, pumkins and zucchini. I gave up for this year and pulled them all out. We are used to no rain, but not the brutal humidity we have been getting here in So. Cal.

  4. Beverly says:

    Margaret, I have to tell you this cucumber trick. I discovered it accidentally in 2011. It began as a gourd trick, and this year I attempted it with cucumbers with great success. It is a Companion Planting marvel.

    In 2010 the striped and spotted cucumber beetles became a horrible infestation on my gourd vines. I was out there every evening with a small pail of soapy water., chasing after them one by one. Tedious!

    My gourd patch of 2011 sported a small seedling of Sweet Annie Artemisia. I planned to relocate it and did not get to it. Suddenly I realized that I had not seen even one beetle devouring my gourd blossoms. I attributed this development to the aromatic presence of Sweet Annie, which just randomly landed next to the gourd area.

    For 2012, I elected to try growing cucumbers for the first time in many years, hoping the Sweet Annie trick would pan out again. The first problem I encountered was that all over the gigantic back yard garden, not one errant Sweet Annie seedling showed up! I advertised on Craigslist for them, offering to swap the Heirloom Iris ‘Wabash’ and found a fellow gardener about 30 minutes away who had Sweet Annie to trade. I placed the newly acquired annual seedlings near the cucumbers and the gourds and waited hopefully. Their flowers have no beetles! It’s like magic.

    I am in zone 6, eastern PA, and I don’t know if this trick will work in all areas. I can tell you I am extremely pleased with the companion planting arrangement of curcurbits and Sweet Annie.

    1. margaret says:

      Love it, Beverly. Fascinating how we make such discoveries, truly.

      Hi, Highpoint Hill. I grow bush types rather than vining most often to save space, but I think for vining I like something like this design (you could buy or do yourself).

  5. Gayla Templeton says:

    I wonder if some of the anomolies we are seeing in our gardens are the result of the increase in radiation from the earthquake and resulting blow up of the power plant in Japan. I’m reading a lot about it, not so much in the regular press but more in the conversations on some of the social media sites. One researcher has been traveling across the upper part of the United States doing geiger counter readings and it’s a bit scary. The readings from the dust on top of St Louis’ arch were way into the danger catagory months ago and he just recently tested it and it’s still dangerous. Many are doing it in a more local area and finding the same situation. I did read a NY Times article a while back talking about the increase in miscarrages and babies with deformities in the state of Washington and some place in Canada that I wasn’t familiar with and don’t remember. Surely those kinds of reports would account for cukes being white instead of green. We sure miss our normal rain in the states towards the south but I’m thinking that the storms in the north are a blessing to clean up the environment there.

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