Growing Squash in Florida is Not So Easy

In New England squash and zucchini were always part of my summer gardening design.  Usually a couple of plants gave me more squash than I could eat.

In Florida I have had no luck growing any type of squash.  Now I read that “summer squash” is not grown in summer here.  In fact, I am discovering that not much does grow well here in summer, except the tropical plants and citrus.

The Summer Squash Gardening Solutions page at the University of Florida has some recommendations when it comes to planting and growing squash.  My garden is very small so I’ve tried to grow squash in my fabric bags.  The plants begin fine, but eventually rot away.   The types suggested are: Black Beauty and Spineless Beauty zucchini, and Summer Crookneck and Early Prolific Straightneck.  I’ve never grown pattypan squash, but the site recommends Early White Scallop.

Another mistake I may be making is buying my seedlings (and seeds) at Home Depot.  I have not had luck growing any plants that come from that store!   Both of my caladiums have disappeared totally from the garden!  I don’t know much about growing caladiums but I guess they need attention I did not give them.

Recently I visited a local nursery called Lindleys, in New Smyrna, where I found my Staghorn fern and Fiddle leaf fig tree, and a little thyme plant, but I’m thinking they might have seedlings to plant as well.  I believe the real growing season begins in February here.  I will go back and see what they have next month.

Blossom End Rot Problem on The Squash

I’ve been having a blossom end rot problem with my Summer Squash. After reading a bit about the disease, I found a couple of solutions to try.

Vegetables will begin to grow and look fine, but then the ends will turn brown and rot the fruit like in my image below.

First, overwatering is a concern. Because it tends to be very hot here, I do water my garden every morning. Plants in pots outdoors, like my Persian Lime Tree, need lots of water.

The problem with too much water on the yellow squash, or zucchini which is similar, is that calcium leaches out of the soil and the plant can’t get enough to grow the squash correctly.

So adding calcium can help.   I decided to try adding eggshells, but store bought organic calcium may be the better way to go.  It’s not cheap, but this problem can affect many types of vegetables so the bag would probably come in handy.

squash blossom end rot
Squash blossom end rot

I have read that one way to add calcium to garden dirt is by adding crushed, dried eggshells.

A mortar and pestle can be used to crush the shells to make a fine powder. This can be added to the soil.  However, I also found this page at the Garden Myths site which claims that eggshells basically do very little to enhance soil.    They say that grinding the shells to powder and adding to acidic soil is your best shot for this idea to work.  They claim that eggshells remain intact for long periods of time and do not break down to add nutrients to the soil.

In the end, what the suffering plants probably need is additional calcium (in whatever form you choose to use) and possibly less water.  Read more about Blossom End Rot at the Gardeners site.