There are many benefits to planting summer squash in a container or planter. Since containers are mobile, they can be moved to the sunniest spots. Containers with summer squash also retain water much longer than general ground soil. For people who do not have access to a garden or yard, pots allow them to enjoy gardening and harvest their own vegetables, summer squash included.
Prepping the Containers
Choose containers that are at least 12 x 12 inches, as a mound for a summer squash can house 4 to 6 seeds. Both plastic and clay pots work, but plastic will stay moist long than clay, thus requiring less frequent watering. Check for draining holes in the bottom of the pot to allow the soil to breathe and to ward off the chance of mildew caused by over watering. The soil should be a potting soil mixed generously with a fertilizer or compost. You could use transplanted garden soil, but there's a chance of transplanting garden bugs and bacteria. Potting containers have the advantage of staying clear of pests, but only with clean soil. Summer squash require a lot of soil nutrients, therefore consider mixing equally into each pot, one part potting soil, one part peat moss and one part compost or manure fertilizer. It's a bit smelly, but your squash will love you for it.
For September harvest, plant your squash early to mid July. Your containers should be filled loosely about ¾ full with your soil mixture. You can plant either transplant squash or seeds. Staking is not required for transplant squash--just plant them near the center of the pot and fill in the soil around it. For seeds, plant 4 to 6 seeds in the middle of the pot and raise a ½-inch mound on top of them. For both methods, water thoroughly. After germination of the seeds, it is recommended by most gardeners that you cut off (not out, do not disturb the roots) the smaller of the seedlings save two to prevent overcrowding, which can stunt growth.
Summer squash containers must see a near full day of sunlight, and if you live in a shady area, the advantage of a container is that you can move it to follow the sun. Containers need much less watering than ground planting, as ground planting requires daily watering; containers need watering only three or four times a week. However, if you are growing in a relatively dry and hot region, you may need to check the moisture of your containers more frequently. Summer squash take about 8 weeks to grow, so after 4 weeks, re-feed with fertilizer mixed with water. Harvest your squash when they are young; 4 to 5 inches are the ideal lengths for flavor and sweetness. Harvesting them young will also allow the plant to continue producing fruit as time goes on.
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