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How to grow Squash

Squash

Whether planting "summer" or "winter" squash, consider reviewing the companion planting before growing squash in your garden. (Squash is a good companion to many other garden plants.)


Nutrition Information
Summer squash: Dietary Fiber, Protein, Vitamin A, C, K, B6, Folate, Thiamin, Niacin, Phosphorus and Copper, Riboflavin, Magnesium, Potassium and Manganese.

Winter squash: Dietary Fiber, Riboflavin, Folate, Vitamin A, B6, C, Magnesium and Copper, Potassium and Manganese.


Climate & Growing Conditions
Squash is a warm weather crop (including both summer and winter (butternut, acorn, etc.) squash). It is sensitive to frost and to cold. Growing squash is successful in most gardening climates. However, the colder the climate, the shorter the plant’s growing cycle. In hot climates, plant year round. In colder reasons, plant in early summer.


To save space in your garden, try growing winter squash up sturdy trellises. You'll need to help support the fruit though. Make slings out of fabric to attach to the trellis to help support the growing fruit.


Preparing the Garden Soil
Either part-shade or full sun is best for growing squash. Squash needs good drainage, but will grow in most soil types.
Dig in lots of rotted manure and compost, a few weeks before you plant. The garden soil pH should be 6.0-7.0 for your best success in growing squash.


Planting
You can raise seedlings by starting them indoors 5 weeks ahead of when you want to plant them outdoors. Plant the seeds 1” deep in seed starter mix, and keep the soil moist (but not soggy).


Or, sow the seeds directly into the garden soil. Make a mound with a depression in the center (like a crater) that’s approx 8” tall. (The crater helps with irrigation.) Plant the seeds ½” deep in the mound. Space the mounds 3 feet apart. When the seedlings appear, thin to two or three plants per mound.


Gardening Tip for Growing Squash - As you're thinning the plants, it’s best to cut the seedlings at ground level (rather than pulling them out), to avoid disturbing the surviving roots.


Squash grows vigorously with its vines wandering the garden. Just gently move them back to where you want them.


Watering
Water up to (under) the squash plants, but avoid getting water on the stems and leaves themselves. (Watering from the top of the plant down, when growing squash can invite unwanted plant diseases.)
Mulching with a heavy layer of straw or hay will help retain moisture around the roots and keep the weeds down.
Note: Squash's large leaf structure tends to wilt in hot weather, but it should recover if the soil is kept moist.
Also, uneven watering can cause partially formed fruit.


Fertilizing
You can apply a side dressing of fertilizer (like liquid fish emulsion) to the soil once you see fruit forming on the vine.


Gardening Tip for Growing Squash - Growing squash with too much fertilizer will cause the plant to make extra leaves (and few/smaller squash).


Gardening Challenges
When growing squash, there are some common problems: Namely powdery mildew and bacterial wilt. You can avoid spreading them by not handling the vines while damp. Also, keep the garden clean of decaying material, and use only fully decayed manure and compost.
Another challenge: You may find that the squash plants are producing a lot of blooms, but no fruit. Or else, that the small fruits wilt. This is fairly common, and is a result of one of two things:


The plant hasn't developed enough yet to produce both male and female blossoms at the same time. (see photos below). Female flowers have small squash fruits attached. If not pollinated by the male flowers, there'll be no fruit.


There aren't enough pollinating insects to spread the pollin amongst the flowers. You can help nature along by using a small artist's paint brush. Lightly brush it inside the bloom & repeat from bloom to bloom (male to female flowers). Continue as needed.


You may also find that aphids and pumpkin beetles are pesty problems when growing squash.


Gardening Tip for Growing Squash - Practice good vegetable gardening by rotating your crops within your garden space with each new season. This will prevent many plant diseases.


Harvesting
Summer squash take 12 to 14 weeks to mature, but are often harvested earlier.
Fall & Winter Squashes take longer to mature. While, they can be eaten before they mature, they're best when fully grown and the skin has hardened.


Storage
Winter squash should be stored in a dry place where the temperature is cool, but above freezing.



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