Appalachia Gardening

Do You Cut Back Your Squash Plants?

Cutting back squash plants

When I returned from vacation, more than a few of my squash and zucchini plants were suffering from the abundant rainfall Brasstown received in my absence.

If you’ve grown squash or zucchini before you have experienced the same issue after a prolonged rainy spell. The bottom leaves were all slimy and the ones above them were yellow and droopy.

I headed to the garden with my handy dandy serrated kitchen knife thinking I was going to pull up some of the plants and plant a few more hills in their place. The Deer Hunter makes fun of me for using the old kitchen knife-but I swear it works for all sorts of garden chores.

I pulled out the first squash plant I came to and threw it over the bank. But the next one had a few blooms and the leaves on top looked pretty healthy. As I stood pondering on whether to pull it out or leave it I sudden thought “Why don’t I just trim it?” So I did.

I went around cutting off all the slimy underneath leaves and left the rest. I figured it couldn’t hurt and maybe it would let the plants dry out and continue to grow those blooms into squash. My method seems to be working-the plants look so much better.

I thought I might have discovered a new trick, but a quick google showed me a lot folks cut their squash plants back. Do you?


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  • Reply
    July 17, 2015 at 10:54 pm

    Never have trimmed up the squash plants but it sounds like a good thing in this case. I even have troubles pinching off the squash blossoms towards the end of the season so they will put all their efforts into the squash on the vines. However, when I do pinch them off and toss them into the chicken yard, the clucks go nuts over them so guess they are doing some good.
    My MIL told me many years ago to not plant any squash or viney plants until after June 10. The most of the squash bugs are gone by then and your plants will thrive. Well, we do have some squash bugs some years but mainly those bugs have gone elsewhere looking for the neighbor’s squash and leave mine alone.
    The Amish near here put wood ashes on their squash and pumpkin plants and say that is the best deterrent for squash bugs. I still find the best deterrent is hand picking and smashing the squash bugs. And the chickens like the bugs as well as the blossoms.

  • Reply
    Rev. RB
    July 17, 2015 at 8:40 pm

    Don’t recall anyone doing it in our family before, but don’t see why you couldn’t if you needed to either, especially if the plants aren’t thriving.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    Glenda Beall
    July 17, 2015 at 7:19 pm

    My little container garden, two tomato plants, one squash plant and a climbing Okra plant have bloomed well and the tomatoe plants make little green tomatoes, but they are getting bloom rot. So today I put something on them that is supposed to stop that. Something with calcium in it. I hope it helps save my little tomatoes. The squash is blooming like crazy and so is the Okra, but so far not much to show in the way of fruit or vegetables. This is my first attempt so I am happy to see you can cut back the plants if the lower limbs get ugly.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    July 17, 2015 at 3:46 pm

    I planted nine yellow squash seeds left over from last year’s Sow True Seeds giveaway. Even though the package was dated 2012, all nine seeds germinated. Here in northeastern Burke County we have had a severe deficit in rainfall since the middle of May. A few brief showers have raced through but lasted barely long enough settle the dust. We have had a lot of lightening, thunder and wind but very little rain. I have kept my squash alive with a water hose. My plants have just now started to bloom. Today I saw a couple of fruits about two inches long.
    I am going to try my best to save some seed from this year’s planting. This squash must be pretty good stock to have been three years old and survived this year’s fickle weather patterns.
    Also I have noticed a dramatic decline in the insect population this year. I have seen a few stink bugs but nothing nearly at last year’s levels. I am afraid that they are just desiccated and will appear en masse when normal rainfall returns.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    July 17, 2015 at 10:42 am

    Hmmm never have done that as a deliberate intention of trimming, rather just cleaning up the lower leaves that are dead or nearly so to keep from walking on them.
    The squash borers kill my plants every year. They won’t last out this month, looks like. I sure get vexed with’em but have never learned an effective way to keep them off. Then there are the squash bugs in addition. Along about now I think I’ll do less next year but I’m likely to do more…..
    I did pull off the brown and yellow lower leaves on the tomatoes back in June. They looked good briefly but since then have continued to brown-out with a steady progression up the plant. Whatever it is, hope you all escape it.

  • Reply
    July 17, 2015 at 9:27 am

    I plan to pass this along to my friend who has control of my squash seeds and hence the plants that are growing profusely. I only wish we had the rain you are talking about; we are very dry and rain deficient in Caldwell County. Thanks for the info.

  • Reply
    Pinnacle Creek
    July 17, 2015 at 9:24 am

    I am glad you shared this info. I have tried just about everything in the garden, and I have discovered cutting back bad appearing or dead growth always seems to work out better for the plant. I did this to a row of beans one time and fed them a bit–they pulled right out and did well. I’m hoping all this rain doesn’t ruin the potatoes and encourage blight in the tomatoes.

  • Reply
    July 17, 2015 at 9:22 am

    I don’t grow squash anymore, mainly
    because we don’t eat ’em much. A
    few years ago, I had boocoos of ’em in my garden and couldn’t even give them away. When a person gets an affliction of some sorts, we usually have it cut off with surgery. I guess the same would apply with our garden veggies.
    Looks like your Mexican cucumber
    is just right for picking. It
    looks nice…Ken

  • Reply
    July 17, 2015 at 8:02 am

    I’ve never cut mine back, but it sounds like a great idea! The squash beetles usually get mine before I’ve had enough zucchini, but despite our rainy summer, they haven’t attacked yet. Now I’ve got more zucchini than I (or my friends) know what to do with!

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