Learning Download: How to Grow Squash
From Seed to Harvest: A guide to growing squash.
Squash is a very versatile plant to grow, with many different options for the home garden. Squash is an easy plant with high yields and comes in many different varietals. Winter squashes such as acorn, delicata and butternut can be used in dishes or even for decoration as a centerpiece of a table.
Squash grow well in mounds, so hill up some soil and plant three to five seeds per mound. plant seeds 1 inch deep in mounds set 4 feet apart after all danger of frost has passed. Squash can be started indoors three to four weeks before the last frost date. Squash also grow well in pots or buckets. A 5- or 10-gallon bucket is large enough.
Once seedlings occur, thin to two or three per mound. Squash grow best in full sun so, if possible, plant on a south or southeast facing slope. Water at least 1 inch a week. Squash do best when in soil with a pH of 6.0 to 6.7. TO deter weeds, a light layer of mulch can be applied but squash is a sprawling plant that usually doesn’t fall victim to weeds. Mulching also can help retain moisture.
Summer squash varieties like zucchini and yellow squash can be harvested when they are young and tender or you can wait until they reach their full size, which is generally 6 to 8 inches long. Zucchini will have a healthy sheen to its green skin. Winter squash like acorn, delicata or butternut squashes are ready to harvest when their outer rind resists puncture by a fingernail.
To harvest, use pruning shears or scissors to snip the squash from the vine. Do not try to pull or twist the squash off the plant, as it may cause damage to the squash and the plant. Harvest frequently, as the more you harvest the more squash will grow. If a squash becomes overripe, remove it from the plant to continue encouraging more yields. Squash blossoms are also edible. Pick the first blooms that appear, as those are the males and if picked, they will not affect plant yields later in the season. Remove the interior of the blossom and add the petals to salads.
What squash craves:
Squash plants have high yields, making them a heavy feeder. To encourage squash growth, it is important to fertilize prior to planting the seeds and during its growing season as well. Prior to planting seeds, mix up to 3 inches of compost into the soil where you plan to plant the seeds. Instead of composting, you can use a 5-10-10 fertilizer and spread 1 tablespoon per mound prior to planting. Throughout the squash’s growing season, use the 5-10-10 fertilizer monthly.
Where to buy squash seeds:
You can find many varieties of squash — both winter and summer squashes such as zucchini, yellow squash, acorn, butternut, even small scallop squashes and more at Urban Farmer.
Learning Download: Common pests and diseases: Squash
Common pests and diseases: Squash
When growing vegetables, it is always exciting to care for the plant throughout its growing phase and then harvest it for delicious recipes later on, but one thing to watch out for is pests and diseases. Different plants are susceptible to different types of pests and diseases, and it is important to make yourself aware so you can keep a watchful eye and also take any preventative methods to keep your plants safe throughout their lifespan.
Squash can fall victim to several different pests and diseases.
The most common pests affecting squash include aphids, armyworms and the cabbage looper, as well as others.
Aphids are soft-bodied insects that bring problems to lots of plants. They create discoloration of the leaves, necrotic spots and stunted growth. Use tolerant varieties and only apply insecticides if there’s a high infestation.
Armyworms will cause closely grouped holes in the foliage, and heavy feeding can cause leaves to become skeletonized. Squash will show shallow and dry wounds. You may see egg clusters on the leaves. To organically control armyworms, encourage natural enemies or apply Bacillus thuringiensis.
Cabbage loopers will leave large holes in the leaves and can cause lots of damage. Eggs are typically laid in singularly. To control cabbage loopers, encourage natural enemies. You can handpick them from the plants, or apply Bacillus thuringiensis to kill the larvae. Stay away from chemical sprays which might harm natural predators.
Some of the common diseases affecting squash include Alternaria leaf blight, Alternaria leaf spot and foot rot.
Alternaria leaf blight will cause small yellowish-brown spots with a green or yellow halo to appear on the older leaves first. Eventually, the lesions expand and the leaves will curl and die. To prevent this disease, practice crop rotation to reduce levels of inoculum, remove crop debris from the field as quickly as possible or plow it deep into the soil and be sure to apply the appropriate fungicides when applicable. Another method of prevention is to water plants at the base rather than overhead.
Alternaria leaf spot causes round or irregular lesions on older leaves. This disease prefers wet conditions, and it is a fungus. It can be controlled by practicing crop rotation, destroying all crop debris after harvest and applying the appropriate fungicides.
Foot rot causes leaves to wilt, and the wilting progresses to the entire plant, which will then die. This is also known as Fusarium crown. A distinctive, necrotic like rot will affect the upper parts of the taproot. The plant will break easily below the soil line. To prevent this disease, be sure to plant seed that has been treated by fungicides and practice good crop rotation.
Learning Download: Summer Squash Comparison Chart
Summer Squash Comparison Chart
|Crookneck||Yellow Crookneck**||58||4-6 inches|
|Straightneck||Early Prolific Straightneck***||42||4-7 inches|
|Scallop||Scallop Early White**||47||7 inches|
|Scallop||Yellow Bush Scallop **||50||2-3 inches|
|Scallop||Bennings Green Tint Scallop**||50||3-4 inches|
|Zucchini||Garden Spineless||53||8 inches||PM,WMV, ZYMV|
|Zucchini||Black Beauty***||45||6-8 inches|
|Zucchini||Spineless Beauty||50||8 inches|
|Zucchini||Dark Green||65||6-8 inches|
|Zucchini||Marrow Segev||47||6-8 inches||PM|
Diseases: PM (Powdery Mildew), WMV (Watermelon Mosiac Virus), ZYMV (Zucchini Yellow Mosiac Virus)
*All American Selection Winner
Learning Download: Winter Squash Comparison Chart
Winter Squash Comparison Chart
|Type||Variety||Days||Size||Avg. Yield Fruit/Plant|
|Acorn||Table Queen Acorn**||80||1 lbs.||4-5|
|Acorn||Cream of the Crop***||100||2-3 lbs.||4-5|
|Butternut||Waltham Butternut***||105||4-5 lbs.||4-5|
|Butternut||Early Butternut*||82||2-2.5 lbs.||4-5|
|Butternut||Little Dipper||100-110||2 lbs.||3-4|
|Buttercup||Buttercup Burgess**||95||3-5 lbs.||3-4|
|Delicata/Sweet Dumpling||Delicata*||100||1-3 lbs.||5-7|
|Delicata/Sweet Dumpling||Sweet Dumpling||100||1 lbs.||8-10|
|Hubbard||Red Kuri||92||4-7 lbs.||2-3|
|Hubbard||Golden Hubbard**||105||8-12 lbs.||1-2|
|Hubbard||Blue Hubbard***||100||12-15 lbs.||1-2|
|Spaghetti||Vegetable Spaghetti**||88||3-5 lbs.||4-5|
|Other Winter Squashes||Festival Winter||95||1-2 lbs.||5-7|
|Other Winter Squashes||Kikuza**||95||4-7 lbs.||2-4|
|Other Winter Squashes||Sweet Meat||100||10-15 lbs.||2-3|
*All American Selection Winner