Summer and Winter Squash Seeds, cucumbers seeds, melon seeds, eggplant seeds, okra seeds, tomatoe seeds and other vegetable seeds in your garden depend on bees to set fruit, so plant yourself some insurance with flowers that will attract them. Bee balm is one of their favorites. As soon as the weather is dependably warm and sunny, you should see the bees visiting your plants. Bee balm is perennial in Zones 4 through 9, so put it in a corner of the garden were it can grow undisturbed. It will multiply, too. If you “deadhead,” or cut off the old blooms when they fade, bee balm will bloom longer.
- In late Spring, after any danger of frost. Soil temperature should be between 70º-90º F. Summer Squash prefer temperatures closer to 90ºF.
- Cooler temperatures can cause the seeds to rot. Sow 2-3 seeds every 18",in a row, cover ½" to 1" deep. With pre-dampened soil plant in hills that are spaced 4 ' apart with 4-5 seeds planted 1" deep.
- Plant Summer Squash seeds 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm) deep, in pre dampened hills, for bushy cultivars: plant 3 to 4 plants per hill, in hills 18 to 24 inches (45 to 60 cm) apart. For vining types: plant 3 to 4 plants per hill, in hills up to 5 feet (1.5 m) apart. You can use the same spacing when planting out seedlings or transplants.
- Plant in rich well composted soil. Before the vine spreads apply mulch to control weeds.
- A warm weather crop that should not be planted too early in the spring. Sow in multiple plantings to have consistent production all season.
- Start with assorted varieties and you can fearlessly grow many squash in a surprisingly small space as they have a reputation for burying gardeners with their prolific output. By planting Summer Squash like a buttery Yellow Crookneck, a prolific Yellow Straightneck, and a zucchini in peak season in the same 6-foot-wide bed, you could be picking a manageable 3 to 4 squash a day in peak season.
- Squash need plenty of sun and good drainage, and they love wrapping their roots around bits of decomposing leaves or other compost. Prepare the ground for squash by mixing in a 3-inch layer of compost along with a timed-release or organic fertilizer at the rate recommended on the label. Set 3 transplants in hills spaced at least 30 inches apart. A light mulch is sufficient because squash leaves are so broad and dense that mature plants minimize weeds and provide cooling shade. When setting out squash seedlings in sunny weather, you may cover them with an upside-down flowerpot or other shade cover for a couple of days after transplanting to help prevent wilting.
- Squash bears both male and female flowers. The female flowers are easy to identify by looking for a tiny squash below the blossoms. Male flowers are borne atop a bare stem. To help female flowers develop into squash, bees and other small insects pay numerous visits, leaving behind trails of pollen brought from male blossoms. Male flowers often drop to the ground at the end of their life; do not be alarmed, as this is normal.
- Insects like squash bugs, squash vine borers, and cucumber beetles often injure your squash, with the damage being most severe late in the season, when plants are failing anyway. In areas where pest pressure starts early in the season, grow plants beneath floating row covers, or use covers made of wedding net placed over hoops. Remove the covers to admit pollinating insects when the plants start to bloom.
- You may harvest these vegetables like the yellow squash, zucchini, and other types of summer squash as baby squash, or you can cut them larger, up to 6 to 8 inches long. Use a sharp knife to gather your bounty at least every other day while the plants are producing. Should you miss a picking or two, remove the overripe squash as soon as possible to reduce demands on the plants for moisture and nutrients. If you find yourself with a prolific crop, squash pickles are easy to make, or you can grill marinated slices before storing them in your freezer.
- A good trick when planting seedlings is to hill the soil up around the stem if it is more than 1 inch (2.5 cm) from the soil line to the first set of leaves. This is one time it's OK to mound soil up around a plant's stem, it won't rot, and a stronger healthier root system will develop. If you have had problems in the past, cover the seedlings with row covers to protect them from squash bugs and cucumber beetles.
- Squash need regular water to keep the fruit producing, and can be grown without mulch, except in very dry climates, since the leaves are large enough to shade the soil on their own.
- Squash can be grown in containers, just use the compact, bushy types. Feed the plants every three weeks with a good balanced water soluble fertilizer like a 5-5-5 or a 10-10-10. Hand pollinate to ensure fruit set Start with assorted varieties and you can fearlessly grow many squash in a surprisingly small space as they have a reputation for burying gardeners with their prolific output.
- There is no hurry to harvest nutrient-rich winter squash like Acorn and Butternut, which ripen to full maturity before they are picked. Butternut is a vining plant that needs space to run, but because it is resistant to squash vine borers (an all-too-common pest) and because it stores at normal room temperatures for months, many gardeners find ways to make room for Butternut.
USDA Hardiness Zone -First Frost Date- Last Frost Date
- Zone 1 -July 15th -June 15th
- Zone 2 -August 15th- May 15th
- Zone 3 -September 15th May 15th
- Zone 4 -September 15th May 15th
- Zone 5 -October 15th April 15th
- Zone 6 -October 15th April 15th
- Zone 7 -October 15th April 15th
- Zone 8 -November 15th March 15th
- Zone 9 -December 15th February 15th
- Zone 10 -December 15th January 31st (sometimes earlier)
- Zone 11 -No frost. No frost.