Garden dectective: deformed squash

Published: Saturday, May. 25, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 8CALIFORNIA LIFE
Last Modified: Tuesday, May. 28, 2013 - 10:28 am

What's going on here? I've been gardening for 50 years and I've never seen anything like this deformed squash. It looks like a gourd crossed with a zucchini with a big, bulbous end. The flower wraps around the outside of the large end.

Was it something to do with pollination? I have another squash plant with three different varieties on it.

– Gloria Sbragia, Sacramento

That's one very interesting squash, said UC Master Gardener Martha Moon.

Did you grow this squash from saved seeds? If they are not from saved seeds, there is a chance the deformity is due to incomplete pollination.

Saving seeds from hybrid varieties is not recommended and procedures must be carefully followed when saving heirloom seeds.

Pumpkin, squash and ornamental gourds can cross-pollinate, resulting in weird-looking offspring. The seeds planted from normal-appearing fruit can produce plants that bear fruit that is misshapen and undesirable.

One solution: Plan to purchase seed every year. Grow cultivars that are recommended for Sacramento.

This also could explain having three varieties of squash on the same plant. If they are not from saved seed, the deformities could be attributed to incomplete pollination.

I have three rosebushes I planted last spring. They all looked great through summer and fall. They lost their leaves over the winter, I trimmed them back like you're supposed to in February, and now the leaves are back, looking healthy and lush with no excess of bugs.

The problem: One bush is blooming like gangbusters and the other two are not blooming at all (with the exception of one flower a couple of weeks ago).

Any idea what's up? Could I have trimmed them too much or incorrectly in February? I wonder because the one I trimmed the least is the one blooming the most. I'm new at roses, so I'd appreciate any insights.

– Linda DuBois, Sacramento

According to local consulting rosarians, this is a common problem this spring. You did everything right – it's the weather.

Temperatures were like a yo-yo all spring – super-hot for a few days, then rainy and chilly. Your roses got confused.

As a result, they grow a lot of "blind shoots," terminal growth at the end of canes that never produces a flower.

To reset the bloom cycle, trim the main stems down to the first five-leaf leaflet. The bush will grow a new shoot – let's hope with a rose on the end of it.


Questions are answered by master gardeners at the UC Cooperative Extension services in Sacramento and Placer counties.

Send questions to Garden Detective, P.O. Box 15779, Sacramento, CA 95852. Send email to h& Please put "Garden Detective" in the subject field and include your postal address.

To contact your UC Extension directly, call:

• Sacramento: (916) 875-6913; 9 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m. weekdays

• Amador: (209) 223-6838; 10 a.m.-noon Monday through Thursday; email

• Butte: (530) 538-7201; 8 a.m.-noon and 1-5 p.m. weekdays

• El Dorado: (530) 621-5512; 9 a.m.-noon weekdays

• Placer: (530) 889-7388; 9 a.m.-noon on Tuesdays, Wednesday and Thursdays or leave a message and calls will be returned

• Nevada: (530) 273-0919; 9 a.m.-noon Tuesdays through Thursday or leave a message

• Shasta, Tehama, Trinity: (530) 225-4605

• Solano: (707) 784-1322; leave a message and calls will be returned

• Sutter, Yuba: (530) 822-7515; 9 a.m.-noon Mondays and Tuesdays and 1-4 p.m. Thursdays

• Yolo: (530) 666-8737; 9-11 a.m. Tuesdays and Fridays, or leave a message and calls will be returned

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