Growing Summer Squash

Zucchini Summer Squash Plant

Growing summer squash is a successful venture for the novice gardener. Even if you make mistakes, it still grows. There are summer squashes winter squashes.

The two varieties of summer squash that we like are the Zucchini and Crookneck.

Planting Summer Squash
Squash Bugs and Cucumber Beetles
Harvesting Summer Squash

Planting Summer Squash

Summer squash is a very tender vegetable. Plant your squash after the frost-free date in your area. See Vegetable Planting Guide.

If you want to give your summer squash a head start in the garden you can start your seeds indoors. See Starting Seeds Indoors.

Growing summer squash always does better in fertile loamy soil, but it still grows while you're building your garden soil. You can be successful growing squash your first year.

Continue building your garden soil by rototilling organic matter, decomposed manure, and 16-16-16 inorganic fertilizer into the row before planting your squash. Add elemental sulfur to the soil if your soil is alkaline (Western States). See Types of Soil.

Plant your seeds 1/2-3/4" deep. Sprinkle an inch of manure on top of the planted seeds. This keeps the soil moist until the seeds germinate and the plants establish a good root system.

The summer squash will grow into a large bush-like plant. Space the seeds every three feet down the row. You might want to plant a few extra seeds in case some of the seeds don’t germinate. When the plants begin to grow, you can thin out some of the weaker plants.

A drip system or furrow irrigation system is the best way to water your growing summer squash. Because the squash plants have a lot of foliage to support, I recommend running a double drip line down the row. See Garden Watering Systems.

It’s not a good idea to use an overhead sprinkling system because the leaves of the growing summer squash are susceptible to fungus diseases. If mildew is a problem you can spray the leaves with a fungicide.

Keep the rows weeded early in the season, and don’t let the weeds hide under the foliage during the late summer or fall. See Garden Weeds.

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Squash Bugs and Cucumber Beetles

Squash is susceptible to squash bugs and cucumber beetles. Dusting the leaves with “Sevin” easily controls these chewing insects. The squash bugs are usually found near the base of the plant.

You need to "keep a look out" for these bugs. If you don’t notice and eliminate them, they'll kill the plant. Your squash plant will look healthy one day and the next day it’s dead.

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Harvesting Summer Squash

The growing summer squash needs to be picked when the fruit is 4-6 inches long. The big summer squashes are tough and don’t taste as good as the younger ones.

Zucchini will grow several inches a day so you need to keep a close eye on them. Don’t plant too much zucchini. If you do, you’ll be eating zucchini three times a day and still have too much. For a family of six, two healthy zucchini plants is plenty.

The yellow crookneck squash gets hard and tough when it gets old, but it’s tender and delicious when it’s young.

You can pick and eat summer squash all summer, but they don’t store well for winter use. You can freeze or dehydrated your summer squash if you want to preserve it. See Freezing Zucchini (Dehydrating Zucchini link coming).

See Zucchini Recipes to learn how to use your zucchini.

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Keys to Growing a Successful Garden

Types of Soil
Garden Weeds
Garden Watering Systems
Building a Drip System
Starting Seeds Indoors
Vegetable Planting Guide
Garden Worms
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Growing and Pruning Fruit

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