To start growing Louisiana squash plants as early as possible, the seeds should be initially planted in peat pots two or three weeks before the plants will be placed outside in the garden. Prior to placing the biodegradable peat plants in the ground, the plants should be thinned to one plant per peat pot. If the squash seeds will be planted later on in the growing season, the seeds may be placed directly outside. Louisiana squash must be planted at a site that receives lots of sun. Louisiana squash must be watered sufficiently in soil that drains well to produce large squash.
Pumpkin and squash crops are highly productive in the warm and humid climate of Louisiana. In most cases, three to four squash plants will produce more than enough squash to feed a family of four. Squash plants will survive temperatures as low as 60 degrees Fahrenheit, which means they have a long growing season in Louisiana, provided there is no frost to threaten the plants. Squash and pumpkins should be planted from the middle of March to the late April in Louisiana. Additional crops can be planted every few weeks to ensure that a sufficient amount of squash will be available for harvest throughout the summer and the winter months.
Louisiana Squash Culture
Butternut, Banana, Buttercup, Acorn, Delicious, Turk's Turban, Hubbard and Boston Marrow are all varieties of Louisiana winter squash. Most types of winter squash grow on vines. Plants must be spaced at least four to five feet apart, depending on the specific species. Winter squash should be allowed to ripen on the vines until the outer skin, called a rind, hardens. Winter squash grows in the summer months, but is called winter squash because the fruit tastes best when it is allowed to ripen through the cool, winter months. Winter squash may be baked, boiled, steamed or mashed.
Yellow Crookneck, Yellow Straight Neck, Zucchini, Scallop and Patty Pan are different types of Louisiana summer squash. Most summer squash plants grow on bushes. Because of this, summer squash plants may be spaced more closely together than their relatives that grow on vines. Summer squash can be spaced two to three feet apart, depending on the particular species. Summer squash tastes best when it is harvested while still young and tender. When summer squash is planted in the spring in Louisiana, the fruit will take up to 50 days to ripen; if the squash plants are planted later in the growing season, the fruit will require as little as 35 days to ripen.
Pumpkins are sometimes classified as a winter squash. However, pumpkins differ from winter squash in that their flesh is typically more fibrous than winter squash. Seedless and seeded varieties of pumpkins are available for home gardeners. Pumpkin plants must be spaced at least four to five feet apart, depending on the species. In order to grow pumpkins in Louisiana that will be ready for harvesting by Halloween, the seeds should be planted in the early part of July.
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