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How to Grow Summer Squash

by on May 18, 2012

squash

Summer squash is a favorite garden vegetable beloved everywhere for its mild flavor as well as for how easy it is to grow.
As its name might suggest, summer squash is susceptible to frost and can be damaged if planted too early or too late in the season.
AT A GLANCE: SUMMER SQUASH
Temp Range: 60+ degrees F
Seed to Plate: 50 days
Light Needs: min. 6 hours of full sun
How Much to Grow Per Person: 2 plants/person
Average Space Needs: 3 plants / 3 Square Feet
Water Needs: moist, well drained soil
Soil pH: slightly acid, 6.0 –6.5

 

Squash can be sown indoors a few weeks prior to the final frost of the season, but in Zones 6 and higher it is often more practical to direct sow after the danger of frost has passed.

Summer squash is best planted in hills. Start 4-5 seeds an inch deep and as the plants germinate, thin to the strongest 2 plants per hill.

Summer squash loves to eat, so it is crucial that your soil be well amended. You will also find that periodic side dressing with fertilizer will result in stronger, happier plant throughout the season.

Pests

The most common pest problem for the summer squash is the squash vine borer. These are particularly nasty bugs that can destroy a crop in days. Common signs of SVB infestation are:

  • sudden wilt of an otherwise healthy plant
  • tiny holes in the vine with sawdust-like matter below it
  • fruit that suddenly stops growing

To prevent squash vine borer infestation, application of an insecticide like Neem Oil can often help, but it is important that you stay aware of the health of your plants on a regular basis, because as mentioned before, they can attack and destroy a plant very quickly if left to their own devices.

If you find the signs of a SVB infestation, the only solution is to remove the bug. Here’s how:

  1. Spot the entry hole.
  2. With a sharp knife, carefully cut into the vine from the entry hole upward until you locate the squash vine borer bug.
  3. Carefully remove the bug and destroy it, then go a bit further as there are sometimes more than one in a vine.
  4. Apply a fungicide to the vine. If it is within 2-3 inches from the ground, cover the vine with soil.

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