Growing Summer Squash

This article will help the reader grow summer squash focusing on growing season, location, soil type, fertilization and much more.

Growing tender summer squash is not as hard as some people might think. These plants are usually soft, rounded, and can be many colors. They are healthy and the perfect vegetable for the beginner gardener since it is not demanding at all. All varieties of summer squash love the heat, and they mature in as little as 50 days.

Choose a growing site where the soil has a pH of about 5.6 to 6.9 and where the squash will have full sun. Make sure the soil is well drained, and moderately fertile. In the early spring work some compost or other organic matter into the soil. If you want to grow the squash from seed, make sure all chances of frost have passed and wait three weeks after the last frost. Then hoe the garden bed to make it light and aired out. Make small trenches about one inch deep and make them about 25 inches apart. Then sow four or five seeds every 40 inches and cover them all lightly with soil.

Water the place where you have planted the seed carefully once a day for at least a week and periodically after that especially if you live in a dry area. Once the seedling are out of the earth, make sure there is only one to two plants at each spot where you have sowed the seed. You don't what the seedlings to compete for nutrition since then the gain will be small for all the plants. Watering should be done in the morning so that the plant won't be hot by the sun and get shocked by the cold water. Make sure that the plant gets a thorough soak to a depth of at least 6 inches, or the roots will develop shallowly and your plant will get fewer nutrients as a result of it.

If you prefer to buy the seedlings from a nursery make sure you harden them off before you plant them into the garden. Leave them outside during the day for about one-week bringing them inside for the night. After the week you will be able to plant the seedlings into your garden. Plant them about 30 inches apart on all sides, once the soil temperature is between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit and the air temperature doesn't drop below 65 degrees Fahrenheit during the night.

A good technique to make your soil more drained is to make small hills in every spot you are thinking of planting the squash. These hills will give the squash more sunlight and will help the plant to get the optimal amount of water. Plant two seedlings per hill, and if you used seeds, let two of them live and take out the rest to give the two a better growing chance. When trans-planting the seedlings make sure you put them at the same depth they were growing in their pots. If there are cold winds in your area, cover the seedlings lightly with some floating row covers to protect them. But once the temperatures get high again remove them so they don't impair the squash's growth.

Once the seedling is about once inch large water the plants with some compost tea or a fertilizer that isn't high in nitrogen. The nitrogen encourages the foliage to grow, leaving the plant large and green but without many buds for the squash itself. As soon as the squash is starting to form, make sure you don't over-water the plants. The squash might start to rot since it is close to the ground. Another advantage for the hills when planting the squash is that the plant will be on a high elevation which airs them out more and they are less prone to disease brought on by warm moist conditions.

A traditional way to keep disease from the squash is to plant some radishes between and among the squash. They also seem to repel insects keeping the squash a pest-free zone. The squash could also be grown in large pots of at least 30-inch diameters and which can hold at least ten gallons each. For a family with 2 kids plant only 3 or four plants since squash will produce so many vegetables you will not know where to put them if you plant more then that.

You will be able to harvest the summer squash as soon as the plants are about six inches long and the skin is still tender. The most basic types of summer squash are zucchini, yellow summer, peattypan, and cousa. Once the first few squash plants are tender look over the plants every 2 days to pick the newly ripened vegetables since the squash will ripen rapidly after the first few are visible. Once you observe the squash flowering, it will only take about 8 days for the vegetable to mature and be ready for harvest. When picking the squash be gentle since it will bruise and last less long if it isn't handled with care. Cut the squash from the bushy plant and make sure you don't cut off too much of the vine or injure the less mature plants growing from the same plant. The summer squash can be stored in the refrigerator for at least 2 weeks, and if you blanch it you can freeze it for up to six months.

A great way to enjoy squash is to barbecue it and baste it with olive oil infused with pressed garlic and finely chopped herbs, and seasoned with salt and pepper. Just slice it into a thickness of about 1/2 an inch and barbecue each side for about 3 minutes brushing it liberally with the aromatic olive oil. Enjoy!

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