Cucumber and squash are popular vegetables to grow in the urban garden. While they can take up a fair amount of space, they typically are high yielding and produce delicious tasting produce. Understanding what potential diseases might inflict your plants will help you to become a better gardener and respond quicker to potential problems. Here are a few of the most common squash/cucumber challenges we have encountered in Southern Ontario and the GTA and how you can deal with them:

1. Powdery Mildew
Powdery mildew is a common fungal disease. It occurs primarily in hot and humid weather conditions and appears first as a white powdery “dust” that quickly covers the leaf surface. Affected areas eventually turn brown and papery. Spray with a mixture of baking soda and water 1-2x per day if symptoms appear. More information on powdery mildew can be found in a previous tip.

2. Cucumber Beetle
Cucumber beetles are another common issue. They have yellowish-green colour bodies with black spots or stripes and black head. Both larva and adults feed on the plants, attacking tender young growth of the stems and leaves, as well as buds and petals on more mature plants. Eggs are oval in shape and laid on the underside of leaves

The best control method is prevention by using floating row cover and picking any beetles off by hand or vacuum upon appearance. Neem oil and insecticidal soap can also be used, but may need to be applied on a regular basis depending on the severity of the insects.

3. White Flies
These flies like to live on the underside of cucumber leaves. White flies prefer warm climates and we’ve found the best way to control the flies is to spray regularly with insecticidal soap.

4. Bitterness
Bitterness in cucumbers is concentrated on and just below the skin of the cucumber. Regular watering as well as peeling the skin will help if you find the fruit to be too bitter for your taste

For a more comprehensive look at cucumber diseases or if you encounter something not on this list, the folks at Texas A&M Agrilife Extension have put together this great online problem solver.

Cover Image by Julie Feinstein, used under its Creative Commons license.

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