The squash family encompasses cucumbers, squashes, pumpkins and melons. They are all part of the vine family. Even if you do not have much garden space, you can grow a good squash crop by using trellises.
Squash is divided into two classes: summer squashes and winter squashes. Summer squashes have softer skin, while winter squashes have hard shells. Both classes grow on vines and have yellow flowers. Summer squash and winter squash should both be included when planting a vegetable garden. Here are some gardening tips on how to grow these tasty vegetables.
- Work the soil that you will be planting your squash seeds in once or twice a day before planting time. If you are planting seedlings, you should not plan to plant them until the temperature in your area is at least 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Squash seeds should be planted in a mound. You should prepare your soil so that it is approximately one to two feet in diameter. You can add well-rotted manure to the soil prior to building up the mound. When growing squash, have each mound between two and three feet apart.
- After your squash plants start growing, you should thin out the weak plants. Each mound should have no more than three to five plants. Space your plants evenly.
- You should water your squash deeply at least once a week. Try to avoid wetting the plant's leaves as this will encourage disease.
- Cultivate the soil around your squash plants to keep weeds at bay. When your squash plants are tall enough, they should provide enough shade so that weed seeds will not be able to germinate.
- Mulching with hay is a good way to keep your fruits clean. It also will keep weeds from settling in and growing.
- You can side-dress your squash when they blossom. Add one tablespoon of 5-10-10 fertilizer in a ring around the stems. This ring should be about four inches away from the stems. Then, cover the fertilizer with soil. Side dressing will help to produce new vine growth and better fruit.
- You should watch out for pests. The worst pests of this crop are the striped and spotted cucumber beetles. These outlaw relatives will strip your plants overnight if you do not watch your crop. You can use an insecticide to rid your garden of these pests. You can also use a mixture of equal parts wood ashes, water and dehydrated lime. Apply to all sides of the foliage.
- To harvest all squash varieties, cut off the squash stems with needle-nose pruning shears or a sharp knife. The best tasting squashes tend to be about six inches.
Although there are different types of squash, the planting steps are the same. Growing summer squash and winter squash is a great addition to any garden, so get planting!