Planting Summer Squash

Costata Romanesco

Summer squash is a warm season crop. A friend asked me yesterday when should she plant her summer squash seeds in the soil. Should she do it now that the magic date of May 15th has past. Well, we might be over freezing nights BUT the soil temperature is still pretty cool for these crops. Summer squash likes to be planted when the soil is a little warmer so I would wait at least a week. Here is some information about growing summer squash.

-The soil temperature should be between 65°F-75°F when planting the seeds. My soil temperature today was 62°F where I’m want to plant them so I’m going to wait till it is warmer because 70°F is actually optimum. If you plant too early, the seeds could rot or not germinate.

-Summer squash are heavy feeders so put lots of compost in your hole when planting and be sure to fertilize them at least 1 time a month during the growing season with fish emulsion and seaweed fertilizer.

I plant in a ‘hill’ which actually isn’t a hill at all but a circle where I put three seeds spaced out in each ‘hill’. That way if one of them gets a disease I can just cut it out and still have a couple left.

Two plants will feed 4-6 people so don’t go too wild unless you are feeding your neighborhood! I consider a ‘hill’ basically as one plant. Otherwise you will be looking for zucchini ‘victims’-people who will take some off your hands!

– Everyone tends to plant squash too close. Give them lots of room between plants. I like to give them about 4 feet between plants which seem like alot but they always seem to fill in the space. Overcrowding encourages powdery mildew later in the season.

-Plant some onions around your squash plant. This may help deter the dreaded squash bug from wanting to visit your plant. I planted some last year and I got a few but I think I got less of them.

-Summer squash starts producing fruit from about 52-65 days.

-Harvest when the zucchini type is about 8 inches long and the skin is easily pierce-able with your fingernail. Pick patty pan types when they are 2-3 inches in  diameter.

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