The Death of the Cucumber Vines

The Death of the Cucumber Vines Here are my happy, healthy cucumber vines on June 13th

It was a sad day out in the vegetable garden today. My struggling and desperate cucumber vines finally bit the dust. After a couple weeks of spraying them, watering them, and chasing cucumber beetles, I finally realized that they probably will not make it, and yanked them up.

The cucumber vines were really doing well, and producing three to four cucumbers a day at one point. A began to see the tell-tale white spots of powdery mildew, and immediately began treatments of baking soda, liquid dish detergent, and milk. This seemed to help defeat the powdery mildew for a little while.

Here are my happy, healthy cucumber vines on June 13th

Here are my healthy cucumber vines on June 13th

I thought the tough part was over – I thought I had it made. Just keep treating the cucumbers once a week with the powdery mildew solution, and it would be no problem.

I was wrong.

A week or so later, the leaves began browning, and dying off. I was watering about every other day, so I didn’t think it was that. I only fertilized using fish emulsion, so they couldn’t be burned. I was really lost as to what was causing the brown and dead leaves. The next day it was worse, and the day after that it was worse yet. I went into a gardening panic – watering like a mad man, and slinging fish emulsion like it was free.

During one of my watering frenzies, I found the unthinkable, the diabolical, the worst cucumber killer out there – a cucumber beetle! The obvious culprit of my dying cucumber vines just slapped me like a beach wave during a tsunami. This was probably the cause of the quickly receding vines. One darn bug. But can one insect cause all this so quickly?

Probably. But that is not all, there were more.

Since I was spending more time than usual out in the garden trying to resuscitate my cucumbers, I found not one, not two, but three more cucumber beetles. I found striped cucumber beetles and spotted cucumber beetles. I was outside swatting wildly in the air like a crazed maniac (my neighbors probably that I was crazed, since it might appear I was wildly swatting at nothing) trying to capture and kill these little bright yellow cucumber molesters. After a few days, I did not see a cucumber beetle. A-ha! I had won after all! Take that you creepy little bugs!

But it was not over – the powdery mildew was back. After my full frontal assault on the cucumber beetles, I stopped treating for the powdery mildew. And it let me know real quick that it was ticked off about the earlier treatments. It came back with a vengeance.

I tried to fight it back, but the damage from the beetles, plus the mildew was too much. The cucumber vines never really recuperated.

The same cucumber vines on July 19th

The same cucumber vines on July 19th

What a difference a month can make in the garden. The only thing I could do was to rip them out and get the area ready to replant some more cucumbers, or something else. I’m thinking about putting some pole beans in the spot so that I can utilize the trellis. I’m disappointed, but I did get a bunch of cucumbers from them before the total disease and bug onslaught, so it wasn’t a total loss.

2 Comments on The Death of the Cucumber Vines

  1. I have gophers that are eating my vegetables as well as rabbits and squirrels.
    And the cats in the neighborhood are visiting too.
    Any ideas for ways to keep them away without keeping the helpful bugs away?

    • Hi Mary,

      Thanks for visiting Veggie Gardener.

      It sounds like you have a bunch of critter invasions in your garden. There really isn’t an easy answer to your question, I wish there was. I could recommend a physical barrier, such as a fence that is inserted in the ground about 12 inches deep around your garden. This would help with the rabbits and gophers.

      It would not do much good for the squirrels or cats though since they would just climb over it. Plus a fence could get expensive if you have a large garden. I have read that planting a border of marigolds around your garden can help deter some animals because they do not like the smell. I have also heard of spreading coffee grounds out helps. I have not tried either method personally. You could also try some of the commercial repellents that you can buy at Lowe’s or Home Depot.

      Try a mixture of garlic powder, cayenne pepper powder, a squirt of dish detergent, and water in a sprayer and spray it around the perimeter of your garden. The critters get a taste (or whiff) of that stuff and run the other way. You would have to reapply it after each rain. I haven’t tried this method either, but have heard some say it works pretty good.

      I have the best deterrents ever – two barking dogs that chase anything that moves 🙂 Good luck and let me know how things turn out.


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