Squash ranks among the easiest vegetables to grow, so it's perfect for the beginning gardener. All varieties are heat lovers, but because summer squash matures in 50 days or so, you can grow it anywhere in USDA zone 3 and warmer.
- Bypass Pruners
- Compost Makers
- Floating Row Covers
- Garden Spades
- Garden Trowels
- Seaweed Extract
Buy squash plants at your local nursery for planting after all danger of frost has passed; otherwise sow seeds directly in the garden two to three weeks after the last expected frost, when the soil temperature has reached at least 60 degrees F. (See the seed packet for depth and spacing.)
Choose a site that gets full sun and has moderately fertile, well-drained soil with a pH of 5.8 to 6.8. Work plenty of organic matter into the soil in early spring.
Harden off the seedlings, then move them to the garden when the soil temperature is between 75 and 85 degrees F and the air temperature 70 to 85 degrees during the day, 65 to 75 at night.
Plant the seedlings in hills spaced 3 to 4 feet apart, two plants per hill. Set the plants into the ground at the same depth they were growing in their pots.
Cover young plants with cloches or floating row covers to protect them from cold winds. Remove all coverings when temperatures rise and, above all, as soon as flowers appear; squash rely on insects to pollinate their flowers.
Mulch established plants with organic matter to deter weeds and conserve moisture.
Give plants an inch of water each week, and feed every two weeks with compost tea or seaweed extract. Avoid fertilizers that are high in nitrogen; they'll encourage lush foliage at the expense of fruits.
Start picking zucchini, cousa and yellow squash as soon as they're large enough to be used - usually about 6 inches, depending on the variety. Harvest scalloped varieties when they're about 4 inches in diameter and before they turn cream-colored.
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