Squash (Summer)

Health Power

Summer squash adds similar nutrients as winter squash but in smaller amounts. See Squash (Winter) for health benefits.

Vitamin and Mineral Content

Vitamins – C, A, B9 (Folate), K, B6 (Pyridoxine), B1 (Thiamin), B3 (Niacin) and B2 (Riboflavin)
Minerals – Manganese, Magnesium, Potassium, Copper, Phosphorus, Calcium, Zinc and Iron

Disease Prevention

See Squash (Winter)

How to Grow

Common Summer Squash (zucchini, crookneck and straight neck squash and scallop squash). Thrives in warmer weather. Take about 2 months to ripen. All prefer rich soil in full sun with plenty of organic matter and great drainage. Dig in a generous amount of well-aged compost, manure or planting mix. The pH should be near 6. In mid-spring, sow seeds indoors in 3-inch pots, two seeds to a pot. Sow on a windowsill, under fluorescent light or on a sun porch. Keep soil moist. Thin out seedlings if needed to provide room for the strongest seedling. Plant bush types in late spring 3 feet apart in rows 5 feet apart. Plant vining cultivars 3 feet apart in rows 8 feet apart. Sow directly outdoors in mid- to late spring when soil temperatures rise to a minimum of 65˚F. Create small hills 3 feet apart, with amended soil. Sow seeds 6 per hill. Keep them watered, and thin out to the two best seedlings per hill. Mulch around the seedlings with straw, hay or leaves when the vines are longer and stronger. Fertilize every few weeks, especially after fruits set, with a nutrient-rich fertilizer like compost tea, manure tea or liquid seaweed extract. Summer squash should be nice and plump by late summer. If the ground is always moist at this time, raise them off the ground on bricks or blocks. Harvest summer squash before it matures, and it will continue to set buds. Take care to harvest during a dry time, using a sharp knife you wash between each cut to prevent spreading disease. Cure by letting them dry in the sun until the stems wither. Store in a cool, shaded area.

Insect Control

Slugs, aphids, vine borers and squash bugs are common pests for squash. Embed a cup of beer in the soil. Slugs and snails are attracted to the cup, crawl in and drown. Plant French marigolds to attract predators of aphids (hover flies and ladybugs) who eat them by the thousands. Or spray aphids off the leaves with a firm stream of water. Avoid this on smaller seedlings. Vine borers are about 1 inch long, look like caterpillars and eat their way into the base of plants leaving behind a sticky sawdust substance. Watch for this sawdust, and cut into stems to remove them or insert Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) into the stem. Dig dirt up to the stem wound so it can again lay down roots. Watch for the orange and black wasp-like moth in late June when it lays its eggs at the base. They are tiny and reddish orange. If you find them, destroy them and dust or spray with an organic insecticide. Marigolds also help deter squash bugs. They are ¾ inches long and gray brown. They lay their red-brown eggs on the underside of leaves. Handpick them and scan for eggs. Dispose of the pest and eggs when you see them.

Tips

To avoid disease, water soil not foliage. Keep beds weed free. To ensure fertilization, use a paintbrush to transfer pollen from the male stamen to the female pistil.

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