Summer & Winter Squash
You can grow a squash for every seasonal recipe, from a 4th of July cookout to a Christmas dinner. Squash is often cut in half and baked, or cooked and then mashed like potatoes. Squash can also be used in salads and soups, to make bread and they can be grilled. You can even eat the blossoms! Best of all, squash is one of the easiest and most prolific fruits in the garden.
Fact: "Zucca" is Italian for gourd, pumpkin or squash.
Native to the Americas, squash can be divided into two types: summer and winter. Summer squash ripens quickly and should be consumed soon after harvesting, skin and all. Winter squash ripens later in the season and can be stored up to six months because of their hard rinds.
These are perfect for vegetable trays and salads. They can be steamed, grilled, boiled and even stuffed and baked.
They are similar to yellow squash but they have a crooked neck and bumpy skin.
A dark green relative of yellow squash is grown and used the same way. It is also popular in Italian dishes.
They are mostly grilled, stuffed or cut into chunks and steamed or sautéed with other vegetables.
Acorn squash are delicious baked and you can also toast the seeds.
These can be baked or pureed into a soup and are great in breads.
Hubbard squash has a heavy skin which makes them the best wintering squash.
How to plant:
Summer squash are bushy, semi-vining plants that need space to grow, so allow three feet between each plant. Winter squash are more vining than summer squash and need four to five feet between each plant. There are squash plants that are semi-bushy and somewhat compact and only need two to three feet between each plant. Water thoroughly and then apply an all-purpose fertilizer. During the growing season water your plants thoroughly, about once a week, especially during dry periods.
While your squash are growing keep the planting beds weed-free and when watering do not to get the foliage wet. Wet foliage can lead to a powdery mildew, if this mildew develops use a fungicide to control the disease then pick off and dispose of infested leaves.
Squash bugs and squash vine borers are the most common insects that attack squash. Vine borers tunnel into the vines near the soil line and lay their larvae, which eventually kills the plant. To prevent these insects from harming the plant apply a natural pesticide near the base of the plant a few weeks after planting in the spring to kill any insects that may have overwintered in your soil.
Summer squash are fast growers so you will have fruit ready in just 50 days! A fruit that is too small one day could be a foot long two days later, so check them regularly. For the most tender and best tasting squash, harvest them when they are one to two inches in diameter and six to eight inches long. However, pattypans should be harvested when they are three to five inches in diameter. Your plants will continue to set fruit as long as they are healthy and growing.
- Burpee Home Gardens