Growing Summer Squash All Summer Long
Different Types of Summer Squash
Summer squash produces early in the summer and lasts until the first frost in autumn. Zucchini is a type of summer squash and comes in both the green and yellow varieties, but they are not the only summer squash. Other summer squashes include the yellow crookneck and the yellow straight neck,and the pattypan (also know as the scallop squash). Most summer squashes harvest within 50-70 days of planting.
At a Glance: Growing Summer Squash
Plant when all danger of frost has passed.
Planting depth: 1/2 inch deep
Distance plants should be apart: 3-4 feet apart
Time required until harvest: 50-70 days
Pick summer squash often for continued crop throughout the summer.
Planting Summer Squash
Plant summer squash a week after all danger of frost is past in the spring. Although some buy summer squash plants, summer squash can quickly grow from seed to harvest in a short period. Summer squash are heavy feeders in the garden so prepare the soil with added extra nitrogen in the form of composted manure or compost where you will plant the summer squash. Avoid planting summer squash near other forms of squash, melons, cucumbers, or pumpkins if you are planning to save seeds.
When planting vining types of summer squash three to four feet apart in every direction. Bush types can be planted two to three feet apart. The vines can also be trained to grow up a fence.
Care of Growing Squash Plants
Provide the seedlings plenty of water throughout the growing season. Do not handle plants when wet to avoid plant diseases such as mildew. Once plants are established, but before any vining occurs, apply a thick mulch of hay, straw or leaves.
Male blossoms will appear in about six weeks after planting followed about a week later by female blooms. If female blooms drop off, fertilization is probably the problem because summer squash depends on bees for fertilization. If problem persists, you may have to hand pollinate. You can do this by taking a soft brush, brushing over the stamen of the male blossom and then brushing the female pistil.
If plenty of compost is added to the soil and you are able to keep weeds out of your squash, your squash should remain relatively problem free.
Hand pick squash bugs and destroy their red-brown eggs on the underside of leaves. Radishes, nasturtiums and marigolds planted nearby can repel the squash bugs.
If cucumber beetles are a problem in your squash, cover with a floating row cover to prevent adult beetles from being able to lay eggs on your summer squash plants.
Immediately remove and destroy any plants that look as if they are diseased.
Planting Buddies for Summer Squash
Plant two or three radish seeds around each of your summer squash plants and this will help protect the summer squash from insect pests. Allow the radishes to go to seed.
Planting nasturtiums near your squash will also help. If problems with insect pests continue to be a problem, adjust your planting schedule the following year and plant your summer squash slightly earlier or later in the season. (Remembering that summer squash is not frost tolerant.)
Harvesting Summer Squash
Pick zucchini and crookneck squash when it is six to eight inches in length. Longer and rounder types at four to eight inches in diameter. If you continue to picking these squash throughout the season at this size ( and keep plants watered of course), you have summer squash until frost.
Serving Summer Squash
Summer squash blossoms can be picked before fully opened and served in soups and stews or sauted, stuffed or batter-dipped and fried. (A good way of using the early male blossoms that always seem to appear before the female blossoms that form into the actual vegetable.)
The vegetable itself can be served raw in salads and dips.It can also be cooked in various ways. Some of my favorite ways is cut up, steamed with butter and salt and pepper, and batter dipped and deep fried as served like french fries. If summer squash that has grown too large, remove the seeds and stuff and bake.
I have enjoyed summer squash during the winter by canning, freezing, pickling or drying it. I also add ground-up summer squash and include it in my cooked down homemade tomato sauce.
- Zucchini in the Garden
Easily grow zucchini, one of the most prolific producers of the summer vegetable garden, then save the seed for a sustainable harvest.
© 2014 Donna Brown