We’re most of the way through the current growing season and there are many dead, brown leaves hanging over the side of the planter; several others are splayed across the mulch, quietly turning to mush.  It’s not pretty and it’s probably not good for the plant.  Time for a little zucchini maintenance.

I brought out the clippers and started to prune.  Zucchini leaf stems are hollow and so I avoid cutting them to the extent possible.  I don’t know if this is really a concern but creating openings to the stems’ interiors feels like it makes the plant vulnerable.  Where the dead leaves have shriveled and shrunk, however, the stems contract, closing the straw-like hollow.  To avoid exposing the plant to insects and disease, I made the cuts where the stems are essentially sealed.

There were even more dead leaves than I thought and I ended up with a large pile of cuttings.  As a final step, I brought out fresh straw mulch and placed it under the vines to keep them dry and prevent further rotting.  Unfortunately, while moving one of the middle stems, it broke free.  It was quite shocking, like shaking a friend’s hand and watching his arm fall off as a result.

Apparently, the branch had started to rot where it met the main stem.  The decomposition affected its structural integrity (obviously) but surprisingly, not its other functions:  the branch held several blossoms and its leaves were still green.  Luckily, there were no ripening squash on this branch so it was not a major loss (my metaphorical friend would probably not feel the same way).

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