Summer Squash Growing Guide
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Summer Squash Growing Guide

Growing Summer Squash at Home

What Is A Summer Squash?

In the world of squash, there are usually two types that come to mind; winter squash and summer squash. Even though they both belong to the Cucurbitaceae family (also known as gourds or cucurbits), they have fundamental differences. For example, winter squash has a different growth habit, different skin, and different storage and harvesting methods, just to name a few. While we do love our winter squash, we’re going to focus on growing summer squash and all of its amazing qualities. 

Common Summer Squash Varieties

When deciding on what to plant in a Spring garden, growing summer squash is a no-brainer. There are so many different varieties to choose from and they are generally pretty easy to grow, making them a favorite for beginner gardeners. Unlike winter squash, summer squash typically grows in a bush habit similar to determinate tomatoes. So while they don’t need to be trellised, they do need a lot of room to sprawl out. But the silver lining is that most summer squash varieties are heavy producers so you don’t have to have a lot of plants to get a good, healthy harvest.  Summer squash is harvested when immature so the skins are thin and edible. But they don’t typically store for very long so they need to be eaten or preserved relatively quickly after harvesting.  Like most pumpkins and some winter squash, summer squash belongs to the Curcibita pepo family and usually ranges in color from light green to bright yellow to even white. However, they do come in lots of shapes, sizes, and flavors. Below are some of the most popular types of summer squash we’ve commonly seen in home gardens.

Pattypan

Golden Zucchini

Green Zucchini

Straight Neck Squash

Crook Neck Squash

Round Zucchini

The Best Time To Plant Summer Squash

Summer squash grows best when direct-seeded outdoors and doesn’t transplant well because they don’t like having their roots disturbed. While some vegetables have specific dates and windows in which to plant (like potatoes), summer squash has slightly more flexibility to get started in the ground, depending on your zone. Generally speaking, though, growing summer squash should be started in early Spring but can be started as late as mid-summer. Summer squash is not frost-tolerant at all so plant any time after the last Spring frost date, when the soil has warmed to at least 60°F

Summer Squash Plant Spacing

When choosing a spot to grow summer squash, full sun is always recommended. Be careful not to over-plant your summer squash because they can easily take over and become too difficult to manage and harvest. 

In-Ground Planting

Row Spacing – 3 feet
Plant Spacing – 8 to 12 inches
Planting Depth – 1 inch

Raised Bed Planting

Row Spacing – 2 feet
Plant Spacing – 8 to 12 inches
Planting Depth – 1 inch

HOSS Pro Tip

Harvest often! Summer squash is a crop that will require multiple harvests throughout the growing season. Regardless of variety, squash will have better flavor and texture when harvested on the small end of the spectrum. We recommend harvesting every 2-3 days to ensure no fruits become too large and unpalatable.

Summer Squash Soil, Irrigation, & Fertilizer

Soil Requirements To Grow Summer Squash

  • Loose, well-draining soil
  • pH between 6.0 and 6.8
  • Rich in organic materials
  • Good quality compost added to the soil

HOSS always recommends getting a soil sample to your local extension office several weeks before planting. Once you get your results, you will need plenty of time to adjust your soil accordingly and make sure your plants are getting the best nutrients possible as soon as they hit the ground.
Click Here to find your local extension office.

Summer Squash Irrigation Requirements

Squash plants need at least 1″ of water every 5 days. Using drip irrigation is always recommended to be sure that your Squash plants are getting moisture directly to their root system. If you’re using conventional overhead watering techniques, try and use something like the Dramm Watering Can and water and fertilize at the base of the plant to keep moisture off the leaves.

Raised Bed & Container Summer Squash Fertilizer Schedule

Several Weeks Before Planting

Test your soil at your local extension office.

1 Week Before Planting

After adjusting soil pH to 6.0 – 6.5, mix 1 1/2 cups per 10 ft. of row of Hoss Complete Organic Fertilizer with your soil.

2 Weeks After Planting

Sidedress 2 cups of Hoss Complete Organic Fertilizer per 10 ft. of row.

Every 14 Days (After 1 Week Planting)

Mix 1 tablet each of Dr. Joe Nutri Bubble -AND- Dr. Joe Tomato & Vegetable Bubble into 1 gallon of water. Apply as a drench per 4 plants.

In-Ground Summer Squash Fertilizer Schedule

Several Weeks Before Planting

Test your soil at your local extension office.

1 Week Before Planting

After adjusting soil pH to 6.0 – 6.5, mix 1 1/2 cups per 10 ft. of row of Hoss Complete Organic Fertilizer with your soil.

2 Weeks After Planting

Using the Hoss Fertilizer Injector, Mix 1 cup of Hoss Premium 20-20-20 Fertilizer -AND -1-2 cups of Hoss Micro-Boost Micronutrient Supplement per 20 ft. of row.

Alternate Every 14-21 Days

Using the Hoss Fertilizer Injector, Mix 1 cup of Hoss Premium 20-20-20 Fertilizer AND 1-2 cups of Hoss Micro-Boost Micronutrient Supplement per 20 ft. row

Summer Squash Pest & Disease Protection

Insects

Organic Controls

Garden Insect Spray
Thrips, Pickleworms, leaf miners, Armyworms, mealy bugs

Horticultural Oil
Aphids, Squash bugs (Nymphs), Flea Beetle, Whiteflies, Spider Mites, Beetle larvae, leaf miners

Bug Buster-O
Aphids, Flea Beetle, Whiteflies, Cucumber beetles, Thrips, Mites, Armyworms

Monterey BT 
Armyworms, pickleworms

Take Down Garden Spray
Aphids, Army Worms, Flea Beetle, Whiteflies, Mites, Squash bugs(Nymphs)Vine borer ( Nymphs)

Diatomaceous Earth
Cutworms

Non-Organic Controls

Bug buster ll
Aphids, , Squash Bugs, Flea Beetle, Whiteflies, Spider Mites, Thrips, leaf Miner, Vine borer, Cucumber beetle, Armyworms

Treat as needed using label instructions.

Common Diseases

Non-Organic Controls

Liquid cop
Downy Mildew, Powdery Mildew, Anthracnose, Alternaria Leaf Spot

Garden Phos
Downy Mildew, Powdery Mildew; Anthracnose, Alternaria Leaf Blight

Fungi Max
Powdery Mildew

Vegetable, Flower, Fruit and Ornamental Fungicide
Downy Mildew, Powdery Mildew; Anthracnose, Alternaria Leaf Blight, Cercospora Leaf Spot

Harvesting And Storing Summer Squash

Harvesting Summer Squash

Summer squash is harvested at its immature phase so while some vegetables are better the larger they get, this is not the case when growing summer squash. When you can easily pierce the skin of the squash with your thumbnail and they are roughly 5″-7″, that’s a good indication that your squash is ready for harvest. Don’t let your fruits stay on the vine too long, though, because they will lose their peak flavor and get seedy and fibrous. Harvesting often will also signal the plant to keep producing more squash over the season.

Storing Summer Squash

Because it is harvested at its immature phase and is so prolific, planning ahead of harvesting is a must when growing summer squash. Ideally, you want to eat your freshly harvested squash within a day or two for the best flavor and texture. However, under the right conditions, your squash can last up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Don’t wash the fruits and keep them in a paper bag away from moisture. 

Shop Our Huge Selection Of Summer Squash!

Tips & Tricks For Growing Summer Squash

Nothing Goes To Waste!

Squash blossoms are not only beautiful but also make a wonderful addition to recipes. They can be stuffed, battered and fried, eaten fresh in salads, added to soups, and so much more. They only have 5 calories and contain vitamin C, potassium, vitamin A, iron,  calcium and beta carotene

Lend Pollinators A Hand

If you see that your squash plants aren’t producing as you’d hoped, try hand pollinating. Because only female flowers produce fruit on a squash plant, if your pollinators need some help, simply find the male flower and transfer the pollen to the center of the female flower. The male flowers are the ones that have a small protrusion sticking out of the middle of the bloom. They are also the first to bloom on the plant and there are a lot more of them typically than the female flowers. 

Don't Let This Happen to Your Squash & Pumpkin Plants!

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