How To Grow Squash

Planting Squash

This warm season annual requires a long growing season. It prefers rich, fertile, well-drained soil, full sun, and plenty of moisture. You can start indoors 2-3 weeks before last frost date or sow directly in the garden about 2 weeks after last frost. Ideal soil temperature for germination is around 85°. Seed Depth: 1/2 - 1" Plant Spacing: 24" apart Row Spacing: 5 - 6' apart Squash can also be planted in hills with 3 seeds per hill with hills 6' apart. The soil pH should be 6.5. Mulch to keep weeds down and moisture in. Fertilize regularly. Allow 7-14 days for germination.

Harvesting Squash

  • For Winter Squash:
    Harvest squash when they are a good size, have a deep, rich color and you can dent the skin with your fingernail. Winter squash needs to be picked before any hard frost in the fall, but can withstand a light frost. If you tap the fruit and it is solid and slightly hollow sounding, it is ready to harvest. Cut the squash from the vine, leaving about a 2" stem to help prevent rot. Store in a warm, dry location for a few days to cure (if needed), and then store in cool temperatures (50°) with good air circulation.

  • For Summer Squash:
    Best harvested when the fruit is young and tender. The skin can be scratched with the fingernail and may be somewhat glossy. Regular harvesting will encourage continued production. Cut the fruit from the vine, leaving about a 2" stem to help prevent rot. Store in very cool conditions for a week or so.

  • For Pumpkins:
    Ones that are ready for harvest have a hard rind and a uniform, deep color. Harvest before a light frost which can damage the vine, but not the fruit. A hard frost can damage the fruit. Cut at about 3-4" up the stem to leave a "handle" which will also help to keep the pumpkin from rotting. Cure in warm temperatures (about 80°) for about a week and then store in a cool, dry area with lots of good air circulation. The pumpkins should stay in good condition for a couple months.

Saving Squash Seeds

Suggested isolation distance is ¼ mile unless you have barriers such as barns, houses, or tree lines that can possibly help reduce this distance. Allow them to grow large, harvest the fruit, and let sit for a few months to continue to ripen. Take out the seeds, rinse and dry. Clean seeds as needed. Seeds are viable for 2-6 years if kept cool and dry.

Common Problems

  • Powdery Mildew
    A powdery or white coating on the leaves and stems, eventually turning the leaf yellow. Spray with a mixture of baking soda and water (2 tsp. soda to ½ gal. water), use organic neem oil, spray with a milk and water spray (ratio of 1 to 9), or spray with a mixture of 3 chopped garlic cloves to 1 pint of water. Make sure plants have lots of sun and good air circulation. Water plants from below.

  • Cucumber Beetle
    Yellow, elongated, ¼" long with black heads and black stripes on their wings. Mulch heavily with straw, spray or dust with Pyrethrins, use floating row covers, scatter onion skins on the soil around the plant, plant white varieties of radish seed to repel beetles, or spray with a mixture of hot peppers, water, and garlic (be sure to spray top and bottom of leaves).

  • Squash Bugs
    These bugs suck the juices from the leaves and cause the plant to wilt, turn black and die. Nasturtiums and tobacco ash will help to repel squash bugs. Also, consider planting White Icicle radish seeds in the rows or hills with the squash seeds to prevent these bugs. Row covers and neem oil are also helpful.

Suggested Companions

  • Radishes
  • Nasturtiums
  • Corn
  • Lamb's Quarters
  • Sow Thistle

Poor Companions

  • Potatoes