Getting Massive Harvests OF Summer Squash
OK – let me admit right up front that I eat and enjoy growing summer
squash but I'm no huge fan of them.
I cut zucchini up for stir fries but that's as far as I'm prepared to
go despite the huge encouragement from friends who simply adore this
plant. My taste buds don't go there. Even when harvested quite small
(which by the way is when you're supposed to harvest – when the squash
are in the 4 to 8 inch long range) and not giants. Those pictures you
see of huge fruit in the seed catalogs are generally woody and not
worth the eating (even my squash-eating buddies won't eat those.)
A variety of summer squash types
When we talk this family, we're talking about those squash plants that
do not store well and should be eaten fresh. Zucchini, butter
crookneck, marrows, spaghetti and scallop types of squash plants are
all grown in similar ways. And if you harvest them regularly, they'll
keep producing all summer. Oh joy – squash all summer!
Grow From Seed
Growing summer squash from seed is so easy that you should never
consider purchasing them as starter plants. Sow after the ground has
truly warmed up and all danger of cold weather and frost have passed.
Sow 4 seeds per foot of row and approximately one half to three
quarters of an inch deep. The rows should be 4 feet apart if you're
growing a lot. Mind you, two zucchini plants are enough for the average
sized invading army so why anybody would want a row of them is beyond
me. (seriously folks – you'll get a squash a day from two plants.)
If you grow them in hills (slightly raised circles – approximately 18
inches across) you can put 4 seeds in a hill. Construct your hills
three feet apart in all directions. Thin to only 2 seeds in a hill and
pick the strongest seedlings to leave when the seedlings reach two to
three inches tall.
Rapidly growing summer squash really like even moisture (they don't
appreciate drying out) and soil that has been enriched with organic
matter. Adding compost heavily to this section of the garden will
almost guarantee you a good return. You'll also find that adding a
mulch around summer squash plants in July will 1) even out the moisture
levels and 2) keep the soil at a steady temperature to increase your
You may find squash bugs and cucumber beetles chowing down on the
leaves and these pests can defoliate squash plants almost overnight.
While it is a good idea to NOT spray during flowering (you kill off the
predators as well) a dusting of rotenone or diatomaceous earth will
slow them down. Handpicking is a very useful exercise as you're sure to
see and find a ton of pests (drop them into a bucket of soapy water to
And remember, the more you pick – the more you get.
And you don't need to invite me to dinner when summer squash is
featured on the menu. :-)
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