Friday, April 27, 2012

5 Tips to Grow Great Summer Squash!

Summer squash is one of our family's favorite summer vegetables.  A grilled yellow squash with olive oil, salt, and pepper is a simple and delicious treat when cooked along with some barbequed chicken!  There are a few things to know about growing summer squashes in the garden whether they are yellow squash or zucchinis.  Today's Friday Fives will offer up five things you should know about growing summer squash.  Enjoy!

5 Tips to Grow Great Summer Squash


  1. Squash is one of those vegetables that is easy to grow from seed.  You can buy transplants but try to purchase squash transplants that are in biodegradable pots so you don't have to disturb the roots systems much when planting.  Squash is easy to grow and if your soil is a good well drained mix it should do great in your garden!  If not consider bush type squash plants and plant them in pots.
  2. A few plants will go a long way!  Squash is a prolific producer as long as you continue picking from your plants.  Remember pick early and pick often!  Squash is ideally picked at no larger than 6 inches in length.  Any larger and you begin losing flavor.  The plant will also slow down production since it is moving energy into creating seeds and spending it on those monster squashes that are forming.  You will inevitably miss a few squashes from time to time and that won't hurt the overall production much, just remove them and let it resume! 
  3. The squash vine borer and squash bugs are the two biggest pests of squash plants.  Vine borers hatch from eggs laid at the base of the plant then burrow into the stems which cuts off the flow of nutrients and moisture to the rest of the plant.  If you see holes in the side of the stem and your plant is wilting vine borers are probably responsible. Once infected with vine borers there isn't much you can do.  Some people report that injections of Bt are effective although I have never tried it.  If you see signs of the borers begin planting new seeds or plants to continue production since they won't last a whole lot longer.  To prevent vine borers sprinkle diatemaceous earth on the stem. You will have to reapply after rains.  Squash bugs like to suck the juices from the plants which can introduce disease and take away moisture from the squash plants.  Companion plant some nasturtiums near your squash to repel them! 
  4. Squash can suffer from blossom end rot just like tomatoes and peppers.  It's a calcium deficiency so consider adding calcium to the soil through lime or bonemeal.  Watering with diluted whole milk may also do the trick.  I've noticed blossom end rot as a result of damage from squash vine borers so check the stems if you see blossom end rot to make sure you don't have the borers.  
  5. Summer squash blossoms are edible so consider adding them to salads or frying them up!  The flowers are either male or female which means you need both types to get a squash to form.  Plant two to increase your odds.  You will have a lot of squash coming your way so don't plant more than a couple plants at a time or you will risk being shunned by your neighbors each time you come to their door with another basket of zucchini!  Please consider donating the excess to local food pantries.  Do some research into recipes to make your squash produce as unique as possible - you're going to have a bunch!

We like squash grilled, as I said before, but frying it with onions is good too.  Zucchini bread is a common squash recipe for summer.

8 comments :

  1. I've not had much luck growing squash in the past. These tips are great!

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  2. Squash bugs are my nemisis.... I WISH I had a problem with an overabundance of squash.

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  3. I may yet plant some zuchinni. A neighbor invited me to pick (and take home) his yellow squash this morning -- photos of his garden on my blog. By the time I reached the end of the long row, the tiny ones that were too small when I started had matured or maybe I missed a few.

    For supper we had squash, Vidalia onions and freshly dug potatoes fried together and seasoned with herbs.

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  4. Great insight on squash blossom end rot. Thanks for the tip - I'll apply it this year.

    Our biggest issue with squash here (NY Finger Lakes area) is mold. Once a plant is infected, the only remedy we've found is to tear it up and destroy it far, far away. This isn't always effective as it seems once a single spore is in the area every squash plant becomes victim. So, we've started putting squash at opposite ends of the garden (about 1 1/2 acres) while practicing some periodic planting strategies. Do you have suggestions for combating mold that are more effective?

    On the recipe question, squash with tomatoes, onions and fresh herbs from the garden is wonderful when tossed in a frying pan with some organic sunflower oil. Start the squash first (blanch in water) as this takes longer to cook.

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  5. Great tips!
    I remember the first time we planted zucchini plants. We had no idea how much each plant would produce, so we planted something like ten plants! That summer, we were forcing zucchini on every friend and acquaintance we had trying to get rid of it all!

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  6. Squash bugs are the enemy here but if I keep up my squash bug hunts I can keep the damage down. We love squash grilled too and if you pick zucchini really small, they make nice veggie sticks. This year, I'm going to grow some patty pan squash. It's a summer squash too. Tastes good and are cute!

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  7. I'm surprised that no one has mentioned that small summer squash of both types are great eaten raw. alone or as part of a raw vegetable plate, with mao or dip, or alone. Like wise added to tossed salad. The smaller the better the flavor. 2 inches is big enough to eat. ( they can also be pickled, just replace cucumber in your favorite recipes)

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    Replies
    1. I mentioned veggie sticks!

      Yum. I like your idea of adding them to a tossed salad. Thanks.

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