Squash - Winter and Zucchini

Squash is a warm season crop and comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some common winter varieties are pumpkins, butternut, buttercup, spaghetti, and dumpling. Some summer varieties are patty pan, green and yellow zucchini. They do well during long, hot, humid days and warm nights. When planting your vegetable garden plan a large amount of space for this vegetable. They have sprawling vines with large leaves shaped like a palm leaf. There are some dwarf or bush varieties if you have limited space. They have both the female and male flowers, they need bees to pollinate for fruit to form.

Botanical Family - Carurbitaceae/Ground Family

Location - Well drained, sandy location where soil is warm.

Soil - Sandy loam, rich in natural organic matter . Likes slightly acidic soil . Needs fairly light soil so add humus to heavy soils.

Soil Preparation - Dig in 3-4 inches of compost or aged manure.

Seed Info -

  • Seed Spacing - 24 inches apart
  • Germinate in soil temperature of 25 – 35 C
  • Days to Maturity - 70-105 days

Planting Times - Chit seeds in early April. Sow indoors mid April; transplant late May or early June.

Planting Instruction - Set out bush like plants (ie: zucchini) in regular beds. Vine types need large area to cover; plant at the edge of the garden where they can grow to cover weeded areas. Vines can be pinched back after they get some length on them to stop wandering.

Companion Planting

  • Positive affects: bean, corn, mint, nasturtium, radish
  • Negative affects: potato for summer squash

Watering - Require regular watering.

Weeding - Keep weeded while plants are small.

Disease & Insects -

Harvest-

  • Summer (zucchini): fruit grows quickly so harvest every few days. When fruit is 8 inches long cut with a knife 2 inches from the end of the fruit; do not twist off or you can harm the plant.
  • Winter: harvest when skin is hard; if your thumbnail does not leave a mark on the skin they are ready to harvest. Cure by leaving fruit in the sun for a few days; turn every few hours and cover if left out at night.

Storage - Store in a cool dry place that has good circulation. Stored too warm it will develop dark spots and wilted skins. If properly stored they will store for several months. Once cured place them in a single layer on a shelf in a cool place. Wiping plants every few weeks with an oily cloth prevents mold. Check them regularly for signs of softening.

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