Squash, like other vine-growing produce, prefers warmth, although it is typically somewhat hardier than melons or cucumbers. Squash plants thrive in full light and rich soil with enough moisture. It’s a good idea to add well-composted material to the soil.
You’ll never be satisfied with mealy supermarket imitations again once you’ve experienced the wonderful taste of real squash.
Here’s your guide to growing squash from seed!
What Month Do You Plant Squash Seeds
Squash requires warmth in order to thrive. It does not do well in cold weather. Plant after the danger of frost has passed, ideally in the spring. Early planting ensures that squash grows before the first killing frost, allowing for a superior fall harvest.
How Long Does It Take To Grow Squash From Seed
Most types take 45-60 days to grow. If you’re growing your own, start seeds 5 – 6 weeks before the last spring frost. Seeds germinate in 3-10 days. Squash seeds live on average 4 years.
Summer squash develops quickly (in roughly 60 days) and is picked while still young throughout the summer. Their skins are delicate and sensitive, and they tend to be prolific growers. Summer squash Zucchini is the most popular variety. Another yummy type is Pattypan.
Winter squash, on the other hand, takes longer to grow (80 to 110 days) and is frequently colored before being harvested. Their skins are thicker and more durable, keeping them fresh for longer in the freezer. Pumpkin, Hubbard, and butternut are examples of well-known winter squashes.
Which Type of Squash To Grow
Choosing the finest squash species is a matter of personal preference, but what you cultivate often comes down to what you want to do with it. Do you want to eat your squash right away? If you’re looking for a Halloween-friendly option, try substituting one of the other varieties with sweetened clay. Do you want to grow your own jack-o’-lantern? Make sure it’s not too big!
Here are some of the most commonly grown squash varieties.
5 Steps To Start Growing Squash From Seed At Home:
- Squash seeds
- Sterile potting soil for seed starting
- Sterile seed starting pots
- A warm place with sufficient natural light or grow lights
Summer squash should be grown indoors from 3 to 4 weeks before your last frost date. If you’re growing the seeds outside, wait for the soil to reach 70 degrees Fahrenheit. If the soil is still chilly, cover the seeds or transplants with row covers to help warm it up.
Sow the seeds 1/2 to 1 inch deep and space them at least 12 inches apart, as squash plants can grow quite large. If the weather is warm enough, seeds should germinate in 7 to 10 days if they are sown outdoors. Wait 2 to 3 weeks after the final frost to transplant seedlings into the garden.
Although it’s known as “potting soil,” the ideal medium for seed germination has no soil at all. Use a sterile, soilless mix designed for seed starting. Never use garden soil, which may drain poorly and harbor disease spores.
You can start your seeds in a variety of items, including egg cartons with holes cut in the bottoms. However, I’ve discovered that commercial pots, such as biodegradable pots and seed-starting trays, are more convenient.
Seeds germinate best at 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit; bottom heat with a heat mat may assist them in sprouting more quickly. Seedlings flourish better when kept at a temperature of 65 degrees F.
Although you may start your tomatoes on a sunny windowsill, they will thrive better in an LED grow light. Winter and early spring sunshine aren’t as strong as summer sunlight, and there are fewer hours of daylight. Inadequate lighting might cause weak, spindly plants. A light garden with adjustable lights is perfect for growing seeds.
Step-By-Step Squash Seed Starting
- Fill the containers to within 1/2″ of the top and thoroughly moisten the seed-starting mix. Compress the mix but not excessively.
- Place two or three seeds in each tiny container or each seed cell of a seed starter. Cover the seed with 1/4″ of soil and firmly press it down on top of the seeds.
- A simple way to ensure good seed-to-mix contact is to soak the soil with water. You can either use a plant mister or just drip a stream of water over the top. It’s not necessary to wet the earth; simply moisten the upper layer.
- Set the pots in a warm location or on top of a heat mat. At this time, the seeds don’t require any light.
- Always keep the mix wet, but not sodden. If your seed-starting system includes a greenhouse top, set it on end to collect moisture. Alternatively, cover the tops of the pots with plastic kitchen wrap.
- Check on your plants at least once a day. As soon as you see sprouts, remove the cover and put the pots in a sunny window or under grow lights, keeping the lights about an inch or two above the tops of the plants.
Thin the seedlings to a distance of 36 inches in all directions after they have sprouted. Maintain an adequate water supply. Summer squash prefers a soil pH of 5.5 to 6.8, and it grows well in full sun.
Aphids, cucumber beetles, flea beetles, slugs, and other common pests that summer squash may encounter include mites.
Summer squash should not be grown in the same spot as cucumbers or melons. Summer squash may not be planted in pots because they are likely to spread.
Squash are heavy feeders, so they may need a side-dressing of compost, composted manure, or an excellent organic fertilizer like Dr. Earth Organic Tomato, Vegetable, and Herb Fertilizer whether you use organic soil amendments to grow squash in.
Squash seedlings that have already formed numerous blossoms in tiny pots will develop into stunted plants with small yields. Even in short-summer regions, you’re better off planting seeds directly rather than growing squash seedlings inside tiny pots and producing few flowers.
Squash seedlings should be planted in the spring, when they have developed the first set of true leaves but before the second.
When planting squash plants, try to avoid disturbing the roots as you transplant the seedlings. Cucurbits take longer to get established when transplanting disturbs their roots too much.
Squash, like other cucurbits, have a broad, somewhat shallow yet extensive root system. Because much of the root system is within the first 12 inches (30cm) of soil, mulching is critical, especially in hot climates. After planting, apply a 2-4″ (5-10cm) thick layer of mulch.
Squash are simple to grow and don’t need much maintenance once they’re up and functioning. Summer squash and zucchini require regular harvesting.
During the growing season, be on the lookout for indicators of illness or infestation, and act promptly to avoid bigger issues. Remove any leaves that are covered by larger, newer leaves. Later in the season, they’ll acquire powdery mildew and spread it to the newer leaves.
Older leaves on squash plants often acquire a tattered, beaten look as they age and get powdery mildew. This will not usually have an effect on the yield, but you can always remove old leaves that join the main stem at their base.
When the vines are developing and spreading, you may want to bury a few nodes (points where side-vines branch from the main vines) under a few inches of earth or mulch.
A balsam and pyrite combination encourages rooting from the nodes, preventing the entire plant from dying if a major vine is cut off by squash borers or root eaten by gophers. If you’re growing squash where squash borers are a problem, this is especially essential.
When To Harvest
Small and delicate when they are ripe, squash are best eaten while they are still young. Harvest while the squash is still young to ensure maximum flavor. The size of mature squash ranges from 6 to 8 inches long. Little flavor will be found in huge squash.
Remove the squash from the vine carefully, instead of pulling it, to avoid damaging the entire plant. Leave about an inch of stem on the squash with a sharp knife. Harvest all squash before the first frost for maximum flavor and nutrition.
Pumpkin, Hubbard squash, and all other varieties of winter squash will take 60 to 110 days to produce a harvest after sowing. They’re good to go when their rinds are fully colored and solid. When ready for harvest, you should be able to dent the rind with your thumbnail. Harvest as soon as possible before the first hard frost
To harvest the winter squash, cut it from the vine, not pulling it. Leave two or three inches of stem on the squash when cutting it from the vine since storing the fruit will be easier.