Summer squash, a category that includes Zucchini and Yellow Squash, is easy to grow unless your summers are very cold and rainy.
Starting squash seeds indoors is an option. You want to begin them 3-4 weeks before the final frost of the season. If you do opt to start them indoors, plant them in starters that can be transplanted along with them. Otherwise, the roots may become damaged in the process.
Whether starting indoors or directly outside, choose soil that is moist yet well drained. Squash will also appreciate full sun. Plant seeds one inch deep and 18-24 inches apart. If you wish, you can plant using a hill method, where you make a small hill and add a few seeds per hill. This method is advised if it is still chilly when planting season arrives.
Growing squash in containers can be a challenge and it is not typically advised. Should you decide you want to try, you need a deep container that can handle the far stretching roots. You would also be wise to use a trellis system to encourage the plant to grow upwards.
How to transplant your squash seedlings
Squash seedlings have incredibly long roots. Because of this, you want to start or purchase plants in biodegradable pots. This way, the roots can stay safe in the pot when you plant. Be sure that your planting hole is at least 6 inches deep so the roots have plenty of room to stretch. Loose soil that isn’t full of clay or compacted is also advised.
Mulch can help keep the squash plants moist and can help keep weeds at bay. Mulch along with 1-2 inches of water per week will keep your squash plants happy and flourishing.
How to care for your squash plants
Because the roots are deep, plan on watering once or twice a week for lengthy periods. You want the water to have the chance to work its way down to the deepest of roots. Feel free to fertilize several weeks into planting should the squash need a little boost. If it appears to be bright and flourishing, you can skip fertilizing.
Aphids and stink bugs like to dine on squash plants. Mist your plants with a mixture of water and dish soap (just a few drops of soap will do) to help repel the bugs and protect your plants. This is a wonderful method that eliminates the need for any chemical solutions.
Should you see any rot or discoloration set in, check your plants for pests and then make sure you are not over or under watering. Remember that 1-2 inches per week is sufficient, and best received by the plant when given all at once.
When and how to harvest squash
Like zucchini, bigger isn’t better when it comes to squash. You want to pick it when it is of modest size, about 6 inches in length. Pick the vegetable as close to the stem as possible. Once picked be gentle with the vegetable as it can bruise easily. If refrigerated, squash can last up to two weeks.