Squash is one of the most vigorous, quick-growing crops you can have in your garden. One of the "Three Sisters of Life" crops grown by Native Americans, squash has excellent nutritional value and a wide range of cultivars you can choose. All squash fall into one of two categories: summer or winter.
Sow in rich, fertile soil in full sun after danger of frost. Sow 1-2 seeds about 36" apart and cover with 1" of fine soil. Firm lightly and keep evenly moist. For additional drainage consider mounding hills of soil 12" in diameter, 6-8" tall and sowing seeds on top. Seedlings emerge in 10-14 days. Allow plenty of growing space for vining types. Where space is limited, grow only the bush varieties in your home vegetable garden.
How to Grow Squash
Thin to leave 1 or 2 seedlings in each group. Water squash plants 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 squash plants will be fine. Wilting in scorching, mid-afternoon sun is normal for summer squash. They will recover when the sun goes down. While squash prefers full sun and warm soil, extreme heat and drought can stress the plants, reducing production. Mulch is essential to keep the soil around the roots moist and to regulate soil temperature. When the seedlings are two inches tall, apply a loose mulch of clean straw, hay, grass clippings, chopped leaves, shredded newspaper, or any mixture of these materials. As the plants mature, you can add more mulch to keep them happy. Black plastic mulch is also recommended, especially to warm the soil in the spring. Do not plant squash family crops in the same spot 2 years
in a row. Store them in a cool, dry place at 50-55�F for use throughout the winter. Use winter squash to make pumpkin pie, or bake it and serve it as a side dish. An excellent source of vitamin A. Squash blossoms are also delicious and sweet, try dipping in batter and frying.
Harvest often and when fruits are small. Cut the fruits from the vines with 1-2" of stem
attached, then cure them for a week in a warm, dry location with good air circulation. Store
them in a cool, dry place at 50-55�F for use throughout the winter. Use winter squash to make
pumpkin pie, or bake it and serve it as a side dish. An excellent source of vitamin A. Squash blossoms are also delicious and sweet, try dipping in batter and frying.
Attract bee pollinators by planting daisies such as sunflowers, cosmos, zinnias and coneflower, and mints such as beebalm, sage, oregano and lavender. More bees mean more chances flowers will be pollinated and develop into fruits. Border squash plots with rows of beans, herbs, peppers and tomatoes.
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