Squash Seed - How to grow Squash ?
Seeds are the way to go. Plan for one plant per person in your family, tops. Any more and you'll be up to your elbows in squash come midsummer! Direct sowing is preferred to transplanting seedlings. Like most cucurbits, squash plants can't tolerate having their roots disturbed. Most summer squash varieties are ready to harvest in 50 days, give or take a few days.
Because they mature quickly and require warm weather, you can plant them following early spring crops like peas, lettuce, or spinach. Direct sowings any time from spring (after all danger of frost is past) to midsummer works well with most summer squash varieties. In fact, waiting to plant a few seeds in midsummer will help avoid problems from vine borers and other pests and diseases common earlier in the season.
Sow the seeds one-inch deep, spacing the plantings about 18 to 30 inches apart in the bed, depending on the variety. Follow seed packet instructions. Allow plenty of growing space for vining types. Where space is limited, grow only the bush varieties.
If you have a short season or want the earliest possible crop, start a few seedlings indoors, preferably in peat pots, two weeks before the last frost in your area. When setting out the plants, be extra cautious not to disturb the roots when transplanting them.
How To Cultivate Squash Plants
Here are three cultivation tips to keep in mind for prime summer squash. Plant in a warm soil. If the soil is below 60 degrees F., summer squash seeds are more likely to rot in the ground before sprouting. The ideal soil temperature for germination is 70-90 degrees F. Seeds will sprout in 6 to 12 days. Provide plenty of nutrients. Summer squashes are heavy feeders. If you incorporated organic matter into the soil prior to planting, there is no need to fertilize early in the season. However, when the plants begin to blossom and set fruit, a side dressing of balanced soluble fertilizer is beneficial.
Water deeply , a steady water supply is necessary for the best quality fruit. Water deeply once a week, applying at least one inch of water. Shallow watering promotes shallow root development that is detrimental to yields. Don't judge the moisture content of the soil by the dryness of the surface, if the soil is dry four inches down, water. If the soil is moist at that depth, the plants will be fine. Wilting in scorching, mid-afternoon sun is normal for summer squash. They will recover when the sun goes down.
Squash Plant Harvesting Tips
Although summer squash can get quite large and still be edible (zucchini can become as large as a baseball bat if left on the vine too long), you're forfeiting quality and hindering subsequent yields if you allow it to get too big. Like most vegetables, summer squash is tender and tastiest when harvested young before seeds are fully developed. Harvest when the skin is still soft enough to be penetrated by a thumbnail. Pick zucchini when it's about 4 to 6 inches long. If you like stuffed zucchini, allow them to grow to 8 inches. Crooknecks and straight necks are best 6 to 8 inches long. Patty pans should be harvested when 3 to 5 inches in diameter.
Here are two things to keep in mind when you harvest summer squash. Cut the fruits from the vine carefully. Using a paring knife or garden shears, cut the stem about an inch above the fruit. Don't try to twist or yank the squash as you could rip the skin or damage the plant.
Frequent harvesting increases yields. With all summer squash, regular picking will keep the plants in production all season long. Think of each plant as a squash assembly line. When the plants are going gangbusters in midsummer, you may have to harvest two or three times a week!
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