As you may already know, there are many varieties of squash, most of which are vine plants. Before you go ahead and start planting any squash, make sure to know which variety you’re planting. There are two types of squash varieties: summer and winter. Summer squash do not spread as much as vine varieties do and they include straight-neck, crooked-neck, scallop, and zucchini. Winter squash are vine varieties and include acorn, butternut, spaghetti, and hubbard.
How To Grow Summer Squash
Planting Squash Seeds
Summer squash varieties grow best directly sown from seed. If you use transplants, handle carefully to avoid damaging roots. Plant six seeds ¾ to 1 inch deep in hills spaced 3-6 feet apart. Thin to 2-3 plants per hill.In Arizona planting dates for Maricopa County are mid-February through the beginning of April and again from mid-August into the beginning of September to take advantage of monsoon moisture. Check local planting guides for your planting dates. It will be after your last frost date, squash prefer warm soil. Most varieties take 45-60 days from planting to harvest.
Squash really aren’t that picky when it comes to soil. The main thing is the squash need full sun and need the soil to be moist but well drained. You don’t want soggy soil. So if you can provide that for squash, then they’ll most likely grow without much of an issue. If they don’t, we’ll cover what could’ve possibly went wrong a few points down.
How To Transplant Your Squash Seedlings
Squash seedlings have incredibly long roots. Because of this, you want to start or purchase plants in biodegradable pots. This way, the roots can stay safe in the pot when you plant. Be sure that your planting hole is at least 6 inches deep so the roots have plenty of room to stretch. Loose soil that isn’t full of clay or compacted is also advised. Mulch can help keep the squash plants moist and can help keep weeds at bay. Mulch along with 1-2 inches of water per week will keep your squash plants happy and flourishing.
Water and Fertilize
The final step to planting squash is to water regularly and consistently. One time a week, you’ll need to water the plants deeply. This means that you’ll give the squash plants about an inch of water so the water will reach the roots.
Help The Bees
Hand pollination isn’t required, but if you are finding that female fruits are withering and not getting pollinated, give Mother Nature a hand. To hand-pollinate, transfer pollen from the male stamen to the female pistil.
Care For Your Squash Plants
Because the roots are deep, plan on watering once or twice a week for lengthy periods. You want the water to have the chance to work its way down to the deepest of roots. Feel free to fertilize several weeks into planting should the squash need a little boost. If it appears to be bright and flourishing, you can skip fertilizing. Aphids and stink bugs like to dine on squash plants. Mist your plants with a mixture of water and dish soap (just a few drops of soap will do) to help repel the bugs and protect your plants. This is a wonderful method that eliminates the need for any chemical solutions. Should you see any rot or discoloration set in, check your plants for pests and then make sure you are not over or under watering. Remember that 1-2 inches per week is sufficient, and best received by the plant when given all at once.
How To Harvest Squash
Like zucchini, bigger isn’t better when it comes to squash. You want to pick it when it is of modest size, about 6 inches in length. Pick the vegetable as close to the stem as possible. Once picked be gentle with the vegetable as it can bruise easily. If refrigerated, squash can last up to two weeks. Squash can be prepared in so many ways. It is great for grilling and of course using in shish-ka-bobs. If you can’t get enough squash during the summer months, give these growing tips a try and see what you can achieve.
Store Your Squash
Squash is usually ready to be harvested within 60 days of planting. You don’t necessarily want to wait until your squash is huge to pick them.Actually, you’ll know that one week from the time you see a bloom on your plant that your squash is ready. You want to pick them while they are younger so they are more tender. However, you don’t actually pluck squash either. Some do, but it is recommended that you cut them off so you don’t damage the plant. It is a good idea to check your plants daily so you don’t miss any squash and so they don’t get too big by going unnoticed. They will hide under the big leaves that summer squash often produces. Once you cut your squash, summer squash will keep in a cool fridge for up to 10 days. Winter squash is ready to harvest when the rind is dark. If you just store them in a cool, dark place they’ll last the majority of winter. It is not recommended to can squash so your option is to freeze them. You’ll just need to cut them into the desired sized pieces, blanch them for about 5 minutes in boiling water, place them in freezer bags, and freeze so you can use them throughout the winter months.