- How to Get Rid of Ants & Flies on Squash Plants
- How to Make a Squash Bug Trap
- How To Water Squash Plants
- How to Prune Squash Plants
- How to Store Winter Squash
- How to Prune Summer Squash
- Why Does Yellow Squash Rot on the Vine?
- How Long Does Summer Squash Produce?
- How to Grow Cushaw Squash
- When to Plant Butternut Squash
- How to Save Acorn Squash Seeds
- How to Bake Acorn Squash Seeds
- How to Grow Butternut Squash
- How to Harvest Butternut Squash
- How to Preserve Squash Seeds
- How to Plant Butternut Squash Seeds
- How to Germinate Squash Seeds
- How to Build a Squash Trellis
If you notice ants and flies on your squash plants, take action before the squash suffers major damage. While there are many chemical-based insecticides available in gardening stores, you can make a simple repellent that is organic and extremely inexpensive. Treat the squash plant with a homemade garlic spray to keep insects away that could damage to your squash plants, including ants and flies.
Add 6 cloves of peeled fresh garlic to a food processor along with 2 tbsp. mineral oil. Press "Puree" and slowly add water as needed to create a thin, smooth mixture.
Transfer the garlic water to a garden sprayer and add water to fill the container. Attach the lid and shake to mix.
Spray all parts of your squash plant thoroughly with the garlic water mixture. Respray after watering the plant and after rainfall.
Plant squash in your garden early in the season, before you would normally plant other summer vegetables.
Place 1-by-4-inch boards around the squash plants, making a boarder. Searching for plants to eat, the squash bugs will flock to your squash. They will then seek shelter under the trap boards you have placed on the ground.
Mix 32 oz. hot water with 1 3/4 cups of dish soap. Pour mixture into a spray bottle.
Take your spray bottle to the garden in the early morning and flip over each trap board one at a time. Spray any squash bugs on the board with the soap solution to kill them instantly.
Inspect squash plants and spray soap solution on bugs found. Look for eggs on the undersides of the leaves and spray. Continue to flip the trap boards each morning.
Assess the soil every two days to ensure it is not drying out. If you notice the soil drying 1 inch below the soil surface, prepare to water the squash plants.
Position the garden hose so it applies water at the soil level and not over the plant foliage. If you use a watering can to irrigate, sprinkle the soil and not the plants.
Apply water slowly and continuously to saturate the soil fully. Do not water shallowly; instead, give the squash plants a slow watering that saturates the soil.
Provide 1 inch of water for squash plants each week if rainfall is not adequate during any one-week period.
Cure winter squash, except for acorn squash, in warm temperatures for 3 to 10 days. Temperatures that are between 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit with relative humidity of 80 to 85 percent are ideal. Curing will heal any cuts or abrasions caused during harvesting.
Move winter squash into cooler temperatures in an area with good circulation. Temperatures near 50 degrees Fahrenheit with relative humidity of 70 to 80 percent will yield a longer storage life. Your garage, crawl space or attic may work well.
Place a layer of straw on the ground or store on shelves. Do not stack winter squash and don’t store directly on the ground where humidity tends to be higher.
Check on your winter squash often. Once they begin to soften, they should be used immediately. Depending on which kind you have, expect acorn squash to stay fresh for 5 to 8 weeks, butternut squash to stay fresh for 2 to 4 months, and turban and buttercup squash to stay fresh for 3 to 6 months.
Prune for Health and Size
Remove dead or diseased leaves by cutting the base of the stem with a sharp knife or pruning shears. This will help to keep the rest of the plant healthy.
Pinch off new growth at the ends of the vine to encourage the plant to focus its energy on growing fruit. Summer squash blossoms bloom at the center of the plant, so do not prune new growth there.
Prune back as much as one third of the vine at a time to control the overall spread of the plant and promote larger fruit.
Prune to Increase Fruit Production
Identify male and female blossoms. Male blossoms have a thin, straight stem below the bud. Female blossoms have a bulge in the stem below the bud. This bulge will grow into a squash if the female blossom is pollinated. Only female blossoms produce fruit.
Pick some of the male blossoms. Summer squash plants typically produce more male blossoms than female blossoms. Removing some of them will encourage the plant to produce more female blossoms and thus more fruit.
Save the male blossoms and eat them. Squash blossoms are considered a delicacy and can be eaten raw or cooked. Remove the stamen before eating. See the resource section below for recipes.
Leave a few male blossoms on the plant at all times to ensure that female blossoms become pollinated.
Squash is susceptible to black rot disease, a phase of gummy stem blight, caused by Didymella bryoniae. The fungus infects the vegetable both prior to harvest in the field and while in storage.
The disease starts with yellow, irregular spots on the vegetables. With time the spots become grayish-brown and water-soaked and eventually turn black. Rotting areas become wrinkled and dark dots form fungal fruiting bodies. As spots enlarge, they take on a sunken look.
Use well drained soil for planting and avoid overhead irrigation as excessive moisture favors fungal growth. Control powdery mildew fungus on the vegetables as this makes plants prone to black rot fungus. The University of Connecticut Extension recommends curing harvested squash at 85 degrees Fahrenheit for two weeks prior to storage.
Once producing, summer squash will generally continue to grow vegetables for the remainder of the season--namely, summer. You can first plant the squash after the last frost date, and then should experience several months of squash after squash after squash. If you plant your squash later in the season, your plant will only produce until the first frost comes, which varies for each zone.
Finding out your "hardiness zone" will tell you how long your summer squash season will be. North America is divided into 11 zones, each with its own average first and last frost dates. You can visit garden.org to calculate your zone. The coolest zones, in the northern most part of the country, should allow you about two months of squash production. The warmest zones, in the south of the country, can allow six or seven months of squash production.
Many things can inhibit your summer squash from producing regularly. Bugs, squirrels, other wildlife and even mold can eat away at your plants, and reduce your production capabilities. Using insecticides, pesticides and fungicides can reduce the risk of such occurrences. You also can get netting and fencing to keep away larger animals.
Till the soil to a depth of 8 to 12 inches in a sunny area that receives six to eight hours of sunlight a day. Amend the soil with a 2- to 4-inch layer of well-rotted manure or compost and adjust the pH to 6.0 to 6.5.
Apply 5 qt. of 5-10-10 fertilizer per 100 foot row before planting. Mix the fertilizer into the top 6 inches of soil. Side-dress with 1 pint of 13-0-44 per 100 foot row at three weeks and at six weeks to boost growth.
Plant seed to a depth of 1/2 to 1 inch in late spring after the danger of frost has passed in your area and soil temperatures have warmed to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Sow three to four seeds in each hill spaced 3 to 5 feet apart.
Water cushaw squash once or twice a week to saturate the soil to the root level. The amount and frequency of watering depends on weather conditions, soil type and the rate of growth of your cushaw plants. Check the soil 1 inch below the surface of the soil and water when it feels dry to the touch.
Mulch with black plastic to conserve moisture and keep soil warm. Mulch creates an effective weed barrier and prevents soil compaction.
Harvest cushaw squash in the fall when color develops and skin toughens. Cut the squash from the vine, leaving a 2-inch section of the stem attached to the squash. Squash harvested without a section of vine typically rot easily and do not store well. Store in a dry, well-ventilated area for winter.
Butternut squash, or Cucurbita moschata, is a winter squash and grows along the same guidelines as other fall-harvested squashes like pumpkins and spaghetti squash. These squashes grow through summer for fall and winter harvest, and differ from summer squash only in their maturity dates; they are mature and ripe when they harden, and aren't good as soft vegetables.
As summer-growing plants, butternut squash seeds or seedlings need a warm-weather start. Put butternut seedlings or seeds in the spring garden only after the last frost lifts. In cold areas of the country, wait until night time temperatures rise over 60 degrees Fahrenheit, to protect the new plants from cold temperatures and late frosts.
Butternut squash plants require long growing seasons, with maturity dates as late as 80 to 100 days. Gardeners who live in warm growing zones, and enjoy long summers or mild fall seasons, can plant butternut squash again in mid-summer for a second harvest. Get mid-summer butternut squash seedlings into the ground 3 1/2 months before the first frost to give them time to mature, or choose quick cultivars and plant accordingly.
Like all vegetable plants, butternut squash requires the right mix of conditions and amendments if it's to grow successfully. Mix organic compost into the garden soil before planting to provide a rich, crumbly foundation, and plant the squash only where it gets full sunshine all day. Give each squash seedling the space it requires, depending on whether you're growing a large vining or small bush cultivar.
Select squash that have matured to where your fingernail will not dent the outer skin of the squash.
Cut the squash open with a knife.
Using a spoon, scrape the seeds into a colander.
Wash the seeds under running water to remove flesh and tissue remnants.
Place seeds in a medium-size bowl.
Fill bowl two-thirds with water.
Using a spoon, stir the seeds to see if any float to the surface. Any that float to the surface are dead and should be discarded.
Return to colander and drain.
Place squash seeds on wax paper in a single layer to dry. Drying may take several weeks. Don’t rush the drying process--it’s one of the most important steps. One seed containing moisture can ruin your entire seed stock.
Stir seeds daily to promote drying; making sure to keep them in a single layer.
Store dried seeds in a tightly sealed glass jar in a cool, dry place.
Remove the seeds from the acorn squash with a metal spoon. Place the seeds in a colander and wash them in cool water as you remove the fiber and pulp.
Spread the seeds on a thick layer of paper towels and pat the seeds dry.
Place the squash seeds in a small mixing bowl. Stir in 1 tablespoon of olive or vegetable oil for every cup of squash seeds. Add about half a teaspoon of salt or your favorite seasoning, to taste.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Spread the acorn squash seeds on the baking sheet. Bake the seeds for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove the squash seeds from the oven and allow them to cool. Place the seeds in an airtight container and store them in the refrigerator.
Prepare a sunny growing area several weeks before planting the seedlings. Add at least 1 inch of compost to the top of the soil and work the compost into the soil completely. Cover the soil with 2 to 3 inches of mulch. Allow the mulch to sit on the surface for 3 to 4 weeks. Work the soil after this time elapses and sprinkle fertilizer over the surface of the growing area. Consult the fertilizer packaging for the recommended amount for your growing area. Work the fertilizer into the soil completely.
Dig holes for the seedlings. Space the holes 4 inches apart and make them deep enough so that the seedlings will be at the same depth as they are in the temporary pots.
Set the seedlings into the prepared holes and fill in the soil around the seedlings. Water the newly planted seedlings generously.
Water the squash plants regularly if rain is not plentiful. Make sure the plants receive at least 1 inch of water each week.
Harvest the squash when the plant vines dry up. For best results, harvest before the first frost of autumn. Cut squash at the stem, leaving approximately 2 inches of stem on the squash.
Gently press against the rind. If the rind is hard, and the squash is a deep, golden color, it is ready to harvest.
Lift up on the squash so that the vine it is attached to also raises up.
Cut the squash from the vine, leaving 3 to 4 inches of vine stem. Repeat steps 1 through 3 until you have harvested all of the ripe butternut squash.
Gently remove any dirt from the outside of the squash, being careful to not puncture the rind.
Gently twist on the vine stem that is still connected to the squash. If the vine is dry and ready to be removed, it will easily pop off. Removing the stem before storage will prevent it from damaging or poking into the rind of the other butternut squashes.
Harvest summer squash for seeds when the vegetable's skin is firm and cannot be dented with a fingernail. This may be two to four weeks after you would normally harvest the squash for consuming. Harvest winter squash when you would normally harvest for eating.
Cut the squash in half lengthwise with a sharp knife. Scoop the seeds out of the two squash halves and place them in a colander.
Rinse the seeds under lukewarm running water. Remove as much of the pulp as possible.
Spread the squash seeds out on a paper towel and place them in a warm, well-ventilated place. Dry the seeds for five to seven days.
Place the seeds in a sealed plastic bag. Label the bag with the squash variety and year harvested. Store in a cool, dry place until you are ready to plant.
Prepare a garden site in full sun and well-drained soil. Use a spade or mechanical tiller to breakup the dirt into fine clumps to a depth of 6 to 8 inches. Amend with 3 to 4 inches of compost--compost conditions the soil and helps conserve soil moisture--and fertilize with an all-purpose garden fertilizer. For winter squash like butternut, Iowa State University recommends spreading 1 lb. of 10-10-10 fertilizer for every 50 square feet of gardening space.
Bury each butternut squash seed approximately 1 inch below the soil's surface and separate them by 36 inches. If you're growing more than one row of squash, separate the rows by 5 to 8 feet.
Water the gardening site twice a day to keep the soil surface moist. The butternut squash seeds will typically germinate within one to two weeks.
Choose a sunny location to plant squash seeds.Till the soil to a depth of 10 to 12 inches. Work a general purpose 10-10-10 fertilizer into the soil at a rate of 2 lbs. per 100 square feet of garden space.
Mound the soil into small mounds approximately 8 to 12 inches high. Space the mounds 24 to 36 inches apart.
Place two to three seeds into each mound. Press the seeds 1 inch into the soil.
Water the squash seeds thoroughly. The soil should be moist to the touch but not water-logged. Keep the seeds moist until germination occurs. Squash plants enjoy moist soil.
Tie together the tops of two 6-foot-long, 2-by-2-inch wooden stakes with twine. Repeat with two more stakes, so you have two sets of attached stakes.
Install the attached stakes in the garden bed, one pair at each end of the squash row but place them no more than 5 to 6 feet apart. Push the bottom of the stakes into the ground 8 to 10 inches, and space each stake in the pair 3 to 4 feet apart so that each pair resembles an "A."
Drape a sheet of concrete reinforcing mesh on one side of the A-frame stakes, stretching the mesh between the two pairs of stakes. Staple or tie the mesh to the stakes securely. Attach a second sheet of mesh to the other side of the A-frame.
Plant your squash along the base of the mesh, spacing it as indicated on the label or packet for the specific variety. Plant a second row of squash along the mesh on the back of the A-frame.
Tie the squash vines to the mesh as they grow, spacing ties every 6 to 8 inches along each fine. Use soft cotton cord as ties, and place the ties above flower clusters.