Zucchini rot / organic garden

Hello,
I'm a first-time gardener, and I've got nearly all of my zucchini rotting at the tips (see photos).
http://img20.photobucket.com/albums/v59/dustydavis/zucchini-rot-1.jpg
http://img20.photobucket.com/albums/v59/dustydavis/zucchini-rot-2.jpg
I've searched for info and come across two possible causes: calcium deficiency or too much moisture. I haven't done a soil test, so I'm not sure about the calcium. I'm using a drip system, but I also do overhead watering quite a bit - perhaps that is the problem? If I did supplement the soil, is there an organic or relatively natural method?
Thanks! -Dusty
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try your post on <A HREF="aol://5863:119/rec.gardens.edible">rec.gardens.edible (unread)</A> they will know for sure!
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Dusty Davis <dustydavis - at - gmail.com> wrote in message

I know the following applies to cucumbers, but since they're also members of the squash family, maybe this will apply to your zucchini as well. "Withering of young cucumbers starting at the blossom end is due to uneven growth resulting from irregular watering. Remove all the fruits from an affected plant to rest it, and spray the foliage with a foliar feed if it has a poor color. Later-developing fruits should be normal once the plant regains its vigor, providing there is no root disease present. Prevent further trouble by watering cucumbers carefully and regularly."
HTH, s.
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Dusty Davis <dustydavis - at - gmail.com> wrote in message

Blossom end rot is generally attributed to calcium deficiency. That's a deficiency in the fruit, not necessarily in the soil or even in the plant. Calcium availability in the soil is reduced by low pH, so a soil test might help. I've never had much luck with foliar feeding. On the other hand, blossom end rot on squash and tomatoes appears to be more common on early fruit, when the calcium in the plant is redirected from the fruit to the growing point of the plant. Frequently the plant will grow out of the problem and the later fruit will be free of blossom end rot.
Overhead watering can be a problem with tomatoes, but I've not had a problem with squash. The only other problem I've had with squash is powdery mildew. I control it with an application of what is basically hydrogen peroxide. The peroxide kills the mildew, although heavy infestations may require several treatments. I use Oxidate (trade name) which is 27% peroxide, diluted 100:1. The stuff in the grocery store is generally 2.5-3% strength, so a dilution of 10:1 would be appropriate.
Striped cucumber beetles can be a problem with any cucurbit. Surround (trade name) is a fine kaolin clay which you can mix with water and spray on the seedlings. It helps to keep the beetles off the young plants, which is when most of the damage is done.
I belive both these pesticides are allowed under the National Organic Program. (Note that this doesn't make them completely safe. Hydrogen peroxide, while used as a mouthwash, is an oxidizer and can damage plants and animal tissues at full strength. The clay can be dusty, so it could be an inhalation problem.)
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Thanks for the info! I've purchased a soil test kit and I'll test the zucchini bed this afternoon. I should have done it before planting, but live and learn... I'm hoping the later fruit will not have the same problem.
I haven't had the other problems you mentioned (mildew or beetles) to this point. The plants have been incredibly fast-growing and strong, and until the blossom end rot, free of trouble.
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Dusty Davis wrote:

I see you are referring to the Zucchini plants in the plural. Wait until August.
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*laughing*
I had no clue when I planted the garden, so I planted seven plants, thinking it would yield a few pounds of zucchini. When I showed a colleague (an experienced gardener) a picture of my garden, she got a concerned look on her face and asked "you planted HOW many plants?" She thinks I'll be stuffing zucchini into the windows of passing cars by late summer.
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Dusty Davis <dustydavis - at - gmail.com> wrote in message

I had this same problem with my tomatoes. It was a calcium deficiency. What cured it was that I put shredded paper around my plants. Apparently, there is enough calcium in paper pulp that helps this along. I used paper from my household paper shredder. Those household bills certainly helped my tomatoes!
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