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Squash

Home gardeners are growing squash for its abundant yields of scrumptious fruit and edible blossoms.

SquashSunlight: Full sun
Maturity: 60-120 days
Height: 1.5 to 3 feet
Spacing: 18 to 30 inches apart, 3 to 4 feet between rows

Squash, including zucchini and gourds, are members of the cucumber (cucurbit) family and love to soak up the sun! This popular garden vegetable will not germinate in cold soil (70˚F or less) and the plant is easily damaged by frost, so make sure soil temps are warm and frost is long gone before you plant.

Fun Fact: Low in fat, this nutritious member of the gourd family is chock-full of dietary fiber, making it a heart-friendly choice.

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Squash

Squash Seeds

Summer squash — patty pan, crook neck and zucchini — are prolific and delicious.

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All heirloom squash seeds offered by Planet Natural are non-treated, non-GMO and NOT purchased from Monsanto-owned Seminis. Planting instructions are included with each packet and shipping is FREE!

Quick Guide

  • Choose from summer squash varieties (zucchini) or winter squash (pumpkins)
  • Start seeds indoors in cooler climates 3-4 weeks before last frost
  • Plant seeds or seedlings into compost-rich soil in full sun
  • Give them lots of space or plant beneath climbing crops like peas, corn, etc.
  • Summer squash matures in about 50 days, winter squash in about 85-120 days, depending on the variety
  • Pests and diseases include squash vine borers, squash bugs, cucumber beetles, and fungus

Site Preparation

Squash are annual plants which do best in full sun (may require partial shade in hotter environments) with ample water and nutrient-rich soil. Organic soil amendments, such as compost and aged manures, and slow-release plant nutrients, are effective when tilled into the soil prior to planting. Do not plant in areas where other cucurbits have been cultivated over the past four years.

Tip: Use black plastic mulch throughout the growing season to warm the soil, prevent weeds and increase yields.

How to Plant

Sow three to four seeds in rows or hills 1-2 inches deep, depending upon their size. Space hills four feet apart. When the plants are 2-3 inches tall, thin to one sturdy plant or no more than two per hill. If gardening in cold, short-season climates, start seed indoors three to four weeks prior to planting. Cover seedlings with Harvest-Guard® row cover to provide additional warmth and protect them from insects.

Tip: Soil surrounding squash plants should remain moist at all times, however, most squash are susceptible to fungal disease, so drip irrigation is best to avoid wetting the foliage. If overhead watering is unavoidable, water in the early morning so the foliage has time to dry during the day.

Harvesting

Harvest squash when they are small and tender for best quality. All types of summer squash should be harvested when they reach no more than 4-6 inches long and 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 inches in diameter. No one needs zucchini the size of baseball bats!

Use a sharp pruning knife to cut the fruit and at least 2-3 inches of the stem from the vine. Summer squash will reach maturity in 45-50 days; winter varieties (also called hard squash) will take 85-110 days. Remove crop debris and rototill the garden after harvest to prevent future insect and disease problems.

Insects and Diseases

Various fungus and blights attack squash foliage. Spray infected plants with a dilute solution of copper spray or other broad-spectrum organic fungicide to help control the spread of disease. , squash bugs and cucumber beetles are most damaging to squash plants, especially later in the season.

Note: Squash leaves are easily burned by insecticidal soap and copper sprays. Use the most dilute concentration recommended. Do not spray plants in direct sun or when temperatures are above 80˚F.

Seed Saving Instructions

Squash will cross-pollinate, so isolate by 1/4 mile. Seeds should be taken from fruits that have gone past maturity by three weeks. Remove seeds, wash and let dry.

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