How to Successfully Grow Squash

How to Successfully Grow Squash

How to Grow Squash

Squash is pretty easy to grow.  Unless you have squash bugs.  Then they are impossible to grow.  And that sums up squash growing.  The end.

If you’ve never grown squash, you should:

  1.  They are good for you.  Squash is high in vitamins and low in calories.  They are a good source of vitamin A, C, fiber, and potassium.  Additionally, zucchini are anti-inflammatory.
  2.  If you’ve never grown them before, it is very probable that the squash bugs haven’t found your home yet – so you will have a roaring harvest.
  3. There are few plants that reap the bounty known to yellow squash and zucchini.  One (healthy) plant can produce up to 25 pounds of squash in a season.
  4. It is better to grow a bigger variety of vegetables.  If you have a crop failure, you will still have plenty to eat.
  5. You can use them in LOTS of dishes in the kitchen (squash muffins, zucchini bread, grilled squash, sauteed, fried, roasted, squash casserole, etc) I have even pureed them and added them to spaghetti sauces.

The biggest complaint most people have with growing squash is how much squash they get.  It’s remarkable how many fruits one plant will produce.  Squash is the first vegetable to start showing up at church on Sundays in cardboard boxes… Free for the taking.

I always plant a squash plant for each person in the family (that’s 6).

With 6 plants, it’s not a big deal if I lose a couple.  The squash bugs found my garden in 2008, so I always lose a plant or two to the little bastards.  If I start with 6 we still get more squash than anyone can eat.

I’m going to give you some basics on growing squash – and some insider tips to fight common problems.

ONE:  Plant

To plant, just dig a hole in the garden.  Sow the seeds directly into the soil about 1 inch deep.  Water consistently until they germinate.  This will take 6-10 days.

TWO:  Water

Squash need about 1 inch of water a week.

THREE:  Mulch

I use straw to mulch in my garden.  It will keep the roots moist and provide ground cover (so weeds don’t grow).

FOUR:  Harvest

All that’s left to do is pick the fruit and enjoy!  To harvest, cut the fruit off the vine.  Pick while squash are small to medium-sized.  These will be more tender and sweet.  Pick often to encourage more fruit to grow.

Fun Fact:  Although yellow and green (zucchini) squash have a different flavor and texture, they are very similar in nutritional makeup and can be used interchangeably in recipes.

Problems & Complaints

I do have a few complaints when it comes to growing squash.

A-Hem…

Namely, squash bugs.  I have heard rumors about cucumber beetles and vine borers, but the problem I continue to fight year after year is the squash bug.  They love my garden and my squash.

The good news is that you can fight them (and their friends).

Prevent Bugs:

Let’s start with some preventative measures:  Diatomaceous Earth.

Grab some the next time you go to the garden store & sprinkle your plants with it (focusing on stems and where the plant goes into the ground).  DE is organic.  Be sure to use a face mask and be careful that you don’t inhale it.  It is dangerous if it gets in your lungs.

Murder Bugs:

If you have squash bugs who have already moved in, built houses and started to raise families… you can kill them with some dawn dish soap.

Not kidding.

Put a tablespoon or 2  into a spray bottle & fill it the rest of the way with water (small spray bottle = 1 tbsp, large spray bottle = 2 tbsp).  Spray the soapy solution on any bugs & it will kill them.

Kill Their Offspring:

Look at the underside of leaves for eggs (they are red-orange balls in clusters).  If you see any eggs or baby squash bugs, kill them.  Spray nymphs (baby bugs) with the soap solution to kill them.  Smash or remove the eggs from plants so they won’t hatch.

WARNING!

Soapy water will burn plants.  To prevent burning:

  1. Use spray on one plant (to kill bugs) and wait 24 hours.  Observe the plant and check for damage before spraying on remaining plants.
  2. Use soap solution early in the day before the sun is hot.
  3. Use caution and try to spray the bugs only, not the plants.
  4. If you do get spray on plants, rinse it off (by watering the plants well).

I have (accidentally) killed plants with soapy water in the past, so be careful.

Other Squash Problems:

Powdery Mildew and other moldy things can become a problem on squash plants.  This usually happens in especially damp climates.

To help your plants stay dry:

  1. Place plants far enough apart so there is plenty of air circulation.
  2. Water Roots, not leaves.
  3. Plant in full sun where plants get at least 8 hours of sunlight each day.

Happy Gardening,

CJ

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