How to Grow Summer Squash & Zucchini

  Y Star Summer Squash
Summer Squash is one of our most prolific summer vegetables and usually two plants will provide a family with a steady supply of fresh squash or zucchini.

If you are starting from seed, sow directly in 3-4" pots three or four weeks before transplanting. If you prefer to sow directly in the garden soil, wait until temperatures have become steadily warm and the soil is a minimum of 60° F. Squash will tolerate cold conditions when mature, but frost will kill tender seedlings. Choose a location that receives full sun that has been amended with ample compost or manure. Sow seeds every 4", eventually thinning to 12" between plants. Allow 5' between rows.

Squash needs consistently moist soil for peak performance. The plants are heavy feeders and will benefit from a good dose of fish emulsion when they are planted and when fruit sets. The other key to continuous production is to pick the fruits, even if you can’t eat them all. Squash and zucchini taste better when they are harvested small, and by picking the tender young fruits you encourage the plant to produce more. If fruits set on the plant and begin to develop mature seeds within, the plant will begin to curtail production.

  Cocozelle Zucchini
If the first blossoms on the fruit fail to grow, turn black and begin to wither, do not become discouraged. The plant needs both male and female flowers to pollinate. The male flowers are long and thin. The female flowers are shorter and have a bulge at the stem end – the ovaries. Usually male flowers outnumber female flowers, and it is the female flowers that develop into fruits. With colony collapse disorder affecting the population of honey bees nationwide, you may need to resort to hand pollination. This is accomplished by cutting a male flower, removing the petals, and swishing the stamen inside the female flower to transfer the pollen.

If you wish to harvest squash blossoms, cut them cleanly with a knife or scissors when they are fully open, usually around mid day. Keep in mind that if you remove the female flowers you will diminish the fruit production of the plant.

When you harvest your squash, keep cool in the refrigerator and eat within a week.

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