How to Grow Squash
Squash plants are members of the cucurbita family of vegetables, which also
includes pumpkins. There are a very wide variety of squashes, resulting from
easy cross breeding among family members. If you grow a variety of squash
and save the seeds, next year's crop may likely produce some very strange
and interesting cross breeds (Mutations!).
Squash plants are easy to grow, and most varieties are prolific producers.
The size of your garden, may determine which varieties to grow. Bush squash
requires a much smaller space, than vining squash varieties.
Varieties of Squash:
It is impossible to describe every type of squash, as they readily cross
breed across varieties, producing a seemingly limitless range of cross breeds.
Listed below are the most common "purebred" types. Most squashes are vining
plants, but a number of varieties, including the infamous Zucchini, are bush
types. Make sure you know which variety you have before planting, and plan
your garden space accordingly.
There are winter and summer varieties. Winter squash produce fruit with thick
skins. They can be stored for long periods, well into the winter months,
if properly stored. The skin of winter squash is not eaten. Summer squash
produces thin-skinned fruit, and does not store well. Summer squash is usually
eaten without peeling the skin.
For more information, see: popular varieties of squash
Days to Maturity:
Most summer squashes require 45 to 50 days to maturity. Winter squashes range
from 70 to 110 days, or more. The larger fruited varieties, like Blue Hubbard,
require the most time.
Did you know? Most people know that giant pumpkin growing is a big
hobby, with avid growers. But, did you know that almost all pumpkin weighoffs
also have a category for giant squash? Giant squash can also grow well over
More on Giant Vegetables
Plant seeds in rows or hills, planting seeds one inch deep. Row spacing is
dependent upon the variety of seeds you are planting. In hills, plant four
to five per hill. After they have germinated, keep the best two to three
squash plants. Cover very lightly with soil. Water the first day and if there
is no rain, every two to three days until they germinate.
How to Grow:
Squash plants should be grown in full sun.
Squash plants are food hogs. They need a rich garden soil, and ample fertilizer.
The soil should be well drained. A side dressing of fertilizer and regular
feedings of fertilizer will significantly help the health of the plant and
the size of the harvest.
Water regularly, especially during dry periods and the fruit growth stage.
Water deeply. Like other garden vegetables, keep soil moist, not wet. It
is important to note, that irregular watering, can result in pre-mature ripening
of the fruit.
Weed regularly, especially during the early growth stage. Adding a layer
of mulch or compost, will keep the weeds down, and feed the plant.
Train vines to go in the direction you want them to go. Carefully, and slowly,
turn vines as needed. Move them a little each day. Trim vines, removing tertiary
vines to promote larger fruit growth.
Tip: Bury vines with an inch or two of garden soil, to encourage secondary
Temperatures - Ideal germination temperature by vegetable
Ideal Soil pH -
Insects and Pests:
A wide variety of insects enjoy feeding off your squash plants. It is important
to have an insect control plan in place, before they begin to invade your
The Cucumber Beetle is the dreaded pest of all members of the Cucurbita family.
Cucumber Beetles are either striped or spotted. They feed on the leaves of
the plants, and can cause even greater damage. They spread disease from one
plant to another. They are effectively treated with most insecticides.
More on Cucumber Beetles
Squash Vine Borers (SVB's) are a serious problem in some areas. SVB's bore
into the vine, and eats the vine from the inside out. Untreated, it ends
your season. More on Squash Vine
Squash Bugs will suck the juices of plants. If severe, the plant will die.
More on Squash Bugs
A variety of other pests can also cause problems, depending upon where you
live. Apply insecticides as needed, following the directions on the label.
Diseases of Squash:
As a member of the Cucurbita family, most squash are susceptible variety
of bacteria and fungus diseases. Among the most common, are powdery mildew
and bacterial wilt.
Plant disease problems are most common in hot and humid weather. A strong,
healthy plant and fungicide treatment will help avoid these problems. Don't
wait for plant disease to get a foothold in your squash plants. Treat with
fungicides at the first sign of problems.
Plant Problems - Diagnosis,
causes and cures for many common plant problems.
Squash plants are not hardy. The plants are susceptible to frost in the spring
and fall. They are also very susceptible to insects and disease. But, most
growers successfully plant and harvest at least one variety.
Also see: Plant Problems
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