I put squash seeds in with my compost at the end of last year, and apparently it didn't get heated up enough to kill everything. I now have Delicata plants with dinner-plate sized leaves growing out of it.

One of the plants has nice, healthy, 4 and 6 inch squash hanging off of it.

Another of the plants has produced a 10-foot runner with a little squash every foot or so, but every one of those squash has shriveled up after the flower closed up. I had always thought they only did that when they didn't get pollinated, so I went as far as going out there with a small paintbrush and transferring pollen from the male flowers to the female flowers, and the squash still did that.

Could it still be a pollination issue, or would a nutrient imbalance cause the squash to shrivel up?

1 Answer 1


If you were intentionally saving seed, you would have wanted 1/2 mile isolation distance (or bagging and hand-pollination) for the parent plants to be sure that you had seed that wasn't crossed with some other type of squash. If you grew a different variety of squash (C. pepo) last year, or if anyone in your neighborhood was growing any variety of C. pepo at the same time last year, your volunteers could be crossed with another variety -- possibly in strange ways.

So if you have a volunteer that looks and fruits like the parent, that one must not have been crossed. Consider yourself lucky and enjoy the squash.

It's possible that the unproductive volunteer is crossed in a way that makes it unable to produce fruit.

If both the healthy and unhealthy plant are growing in the same soil, a nutrient imbalance seems unlikely.

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