Planning a vegetable garden will never be complete if you don't plant squash in your vegetable assortment. Knowing how to start growing them can be a little confusing, which is why we have researched the topic. We're listing down tips on how to grow squash and when you'll be able to harvest them.
When planting squash seeds, you should start by gathering your soil into little hills and planting 3 to 6 seeds per hole. Plant the seeds about one inch deep, spacing the rows 4 to 6 feet apart for bush varieties and around 6 to 12 feet apart for vining types. The plant themselves should be placed 12 to 20 inches apart, depending on the variety you have planted.
We know that many squash varieties are available to plant and it can get a little overwhelming. Keep reading this post as we share with you the best practices for planting squash. We also have some great tips and tricks to get them to grow healthy and know when to harvest them at their best.
How Many Squash Seeds Per Hole?
Squash comes in many varieties, and you've probably heard a few (or a lot) of these varieties every time you head out to the produce section of your supermarket. From the well-known zucchini to the more obscure sounding ones like Kabocha, squash is easy-to-grow but will guarantee you a rewarding harvest at the end of the season.
Before you get started with growing squash, it is important to know that there are two categories that you can plant in your home garden. Knowing what kind of squash you want to grow largely depends on what you want to use it for and if you are planning to eat them right away.
Quick Growing Squashes
If you are looking for a squash that is quick to grow and harvest, then summer squash is what you'd want to plant. It grows in about 60 days, and you can harvest them while the squash is still young. Summer squashes have thin skins, and they are quite tender. Popular examples of summer squash are zucchinis and pattypans.
Slow Growing Squashes
For those who have the time and the space to grow squash, then you might want to consider planting winter squash. These plants are slow growers because it takes about 80 to 110 days before they mature. The difference of winter squash lies in its skin—it is thick and very protective, and they last well in storage because of these skins. Pumpkins are popular winter squashes.
Spacing Your Squash Varieties
If you're already invested in growing your own squash, it is important to set aside a wide space for your squash to spread out and grow. Make sure to create rows for your squash plants to grow and have space for the squash as they mature. Depending on the variety, you may need to space the rows far away from each other.
Bush variety squash plants should be planted in rows that are spaced 4 to 6 feet apart. Dig holes in the ground for your plants and space them 15 to 20 inches apart to give them a wide area for the bush to grow.
As for the vine-type squash plants, set your rows around 6 to 12 feet apart so that you won't have a hard time looking for your squash when they are ready to harvest. Holes on the ground for the plants should be made 12 to 15 inches apart from each other.
When planting the squash, make sure to put 3 to 6 seeds in a cluster for every hole. Wait for the seeds to sprout and once they do, make sure to pick only the strongest seedlings and remove the rest. Mulch the soil of your squash plants when the true leaves start to emerge but remember to keep it a few inches away from the stem so that it doesn't rot.
What Is The Best Month To Plant Squash?
Squash plants like warm weather, regardless of whether they are the summer squash variety or the winter squash variety. Keep in mind that they grow better in warm soil and enough moisture, so be ready to have your seeds or starts when the sun comes out to play.
Because of this love for warmth, squash plants should be planted around the middle of the spring season when the danger of frost has passed. Time your planting so that the maturity of your squash does not happen when the frost starts to come in.
The soil for your squash seeds should be warm, with temperatures ranging at about 60°F before you can plant your seeds directly. If you have access to a greenhouse, you can also plant your squash seeds in a heated greenhouse 2 to 4 weeks before the last frost date. You can also plant your seeds indoors using the same time frame.
If you are planning to grow your squash from transplants, make sure that the weather and the soil are also warm. Wait for the soil to be around 70°F before you transfer your transplants to the ground.
However, a lot of garden enthusiasts do prefer to plant their squash from seeds because they seem to grow better. It is also easier because most squash plants do not like being transplanted. Starter plants, however, will work well for places where the growing season is short because of the cold climate.
How Often Should I Water Squash?
Squash plants need moisture to allow them to grow fully and reach their full potential. They crave constant watering, so make sure to water your squash plants are least once a week, and the soil should be moist for about 8 to 12 inches beneath the surface.
If the weather in your area tends to get quite warm quickly, make sure to check on your squash and water them a little more frequently. You can also use a drip irrigation system to provide your squash with adequate water without leaving them to dry out.
How Do I Harvest Squash?
After all the planting and the growing, the best part of all is getting to harvest the squash. Summer squash can be harvested at any time, regardless of size. Winter squashes, however, are more particular and they need to be mature and have thick skin before you can harvest them.
The most important thing for both varieties is that you should harvest them before the frost comes in. Cold weather is not friendly to squash so make sure to harvest your squash before them. If you've had more than a week with weather below 50°F, then it is time to pick the squash.
Squash is easy to harvest. Pick the fruit out of the vine or bush, and holding the squash with one hand, leave about 2 to 4 inches of the stem before cutting it off cleanly with sharp pruners. Make sure that you don't move the stem too much because this is what protects your squash from rotting in storage.
Try not to carry the squash using the stem, and instead, carry it around by holding it from the bottom. This is the best way to prevent the stems from breaking and creating a wound on your squash that causes easy spoilage.
How Do I Store Squash?
Storing squash often requires curing, especially for the winter squash varieties. Cure your squash by leaving it out in the sun for about 7 to 10 days, particularly when the weather is warm and dry.
If the area that you live in is particularly cold, you can cure your squash by leaving it out in a sunny window for up to 10 days, with the temperature at around 80 to 85°F.
When storing squash, do not wash the fruit. Instead, wipe it with a cloth and store it properly in a well-ventilated area. Squash prefers that the temperature in the area is about 50 to 55°F with moderate humidity, and do not pile them one on top of another. Instead, store your squash in a single layer and keep them from touching each other.
Planting squash in your vegetable garden is ultimately one of the best choices you'd probably do. Squash is easy to grow and very simple to take care of—great if you're just starting out with that garden in your yard. Don't forget to enjoy harvesting the fruits of your labor and have some great meals with fresh squash right out of your garden.
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