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Lawn & Garden

Growing Summer Squash




Soil preparation for the garden has to start February 1st. If you do not plan ahead then your plants will be struggling while your soil is trying to play catch-up.


Growing squash in a garden requires a little bit of know-how and plenty of room, but when done right, you and the neighbors will be eating a lot of squash with relatively few plants. There are several varieties of summer squash that include yellow squash like Crook Neck and Straight Neck and varieties of Zucchini like Cousa and Striped Romanesco and many others.


 

When and where to plant


You will want to wait to plant your squash once the threat of frost is gone. Check for your last spring frost date in your area before planting. You can also check your first fall frost date there, because if you are in zones 5 or warmer, you can plant a crop of squash 12 weeks before your first fall frost date. Doing this helps you avoid the potential for many insects that are known to attack squash when planted in early spring.


Because squash plants grow to be 3 to 6 feet wide, plant according to spacing on the label or pot. Sew your seeds on raised mounds or raised rows and in about 7 or 8 weeks you will start harvesting your prized squash for dinner. Sewing multiple seeds and then thinning them out and transplanting them is sometimes a good option.


Soil


Summer squash like a nutrient rich soil consisting of composted manure and organic matter like shredded leaves that will help this massive plant develop a vast root system. Like the rest of the garden, squash prefers a soil pH of 6 to 6.7. Soil conditioner and peat moss are other good options when amending heavy clay soils. Check out why we amend different soils.


Crop rotation is crucial for a healthy garden. Crop rotation means that you plant each type of crop in a different place in the garden than you did the year before. Doing this helps prevent nutrient deficiencies in your plants and fruit, as certain crops use more of certain nutrients than others. A soil test can be done by your county extension service before planting your garden and is recommended.


 

Flowers


Squash are different than many other plants due to the fact that they have male and female flowers. Male flowers will show up 1 or 2 weeks ahead of the female flowers. Female flowers are the only ones to set fruit while the male flowers produce the pollen to cross-pollinate it. The female flower is distinguishable, as it will be the one with the fruit attached to it. The male flower will be attached directly to the stem, where it will fall off the plant once it is done.


 


Water


Watering is crucial as these plants like to stay well hydrated but don’t like to stay soaking wet. Soaker hoses are certainly a better option than overhead watering as this will prevent foliar diseases. Overhead watering can also chase off the bees that are critical for cross pollination as well as wash away pollen.1 inch of water a week is recommended. Rain gauges are great to have, as they can tell you when supplemental water is needed when there is an absence of rain.


Fertilizer


A slow release granular fertilizer works well for those people with limited time. This fertilizer will continue to feed for 3 months and it includes micronutrients that may have been depleted from gardens of years past. For those people with a little more time, water soluble fertilizers like Miracle Gro  will feed your plants every 2 weeks and will help produce large yields. For those Organic gardeners, fish fertilizer works great as well.


 Vigoro 3.5 lb. Tomato and Vegetable Garden Plant Food Plus CalciumMiracle-Gro 1.5 lb. Tomato Plant FoodAlaska 1 Gal. 5-1-1 Fish Fertilizer


Problems


Like any plant with male and female flowers, there is the problem of cross-pollination. If there is an absence of cross-pollinators (bees, bugs and wind) then there naturally is an absence of fruit. This will usually only happen on unhealthy plants in a nutrient deficient soil. Keeping plants healthy will be your best defense against these insects and others, as many insects are more likely to attack floundering plants.


Insects


Every plant has particular insects that are attracted to it. Squash are particularly prone to Spider Mites, Squash Bugs, Cucumber Beetles, Squash Vine Borers and Aphids. The Home Depot has the quickest and safest ways to treat your garden.


Prevention is the best way to keep your garden healthy. By avoiding insecticides and incorporating beneficial organisms and insects into the garden that naturally occur, you can feel safe and know exactly what you are eating.


The Home depot sells Beneficial nematodes that are parasitic to all those insects with larva or pupal stages in the ground as well as those that pupate and turn to adults above ground. These Nematodes are responsible for the killing of over 200 different insects.


Using organic insecticides is a great way to insure that what we are eating, stays safe to eat while not killing the bees that are critical to a healthy ecosystem.


Other Related Articles:


Bugs and Insects of the Vegetable Garden


How to Grow Vegetable Library


Using annual ryegrass as a cover crop for your garden


Difference Between Hybrid, GMO and Heirloom Vegetables


Amending Different Soil Types


12 Vegetables to Plant this winter


Starting Plants From Seeds


What is Lime and Why is it Important


Pollination problems with cantaloupe, cucumber, pumpkin, squash and watermelon

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Posted 2016-02-14T18:37:14+0000  by Ingar_HD_ATL Ingar_HD_ATL
 
 

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