5 Tips to Grow Great Summer Squash!

Summer squash is one of our family's favorite summer vegetables.  A grilled yellow squash with olive oil, salt, and pepper is a simple and delicious treat when cooked along with some barbequed chicken!  There are a few things to know about growing summer squashes in the garden whether they are yellow squash or zucchinis.  Today's Friday Fives will offer up five things you should know about growing summer squash.  Enjoy!

5 Tips to Grow Great Summer Squash

  1. Squash is one of those vegetables that is easy to grow from seed.  You can buy transplants but try to purchase squash transplants that are in biodegradable pots so you don't have to disturb the roots systems much when planting.  Squash is easy to grow and if your soil is a good well drained mix it should do great in your garden!  If not consider bush type squash plants and plant them in pots.
  2. A few plants will go a long way!  Squash is a prolific producer as long as you continue picking from your plants.  Remember pick early and pick often!  Squash is ideally picked at no larger than 6 inches in length.  Any larger and you begin losing flavor.  The plant will also slow down production since it is moving energy into creating seeds and spending it on those monster squashes that are forming.  You will inevitably miss a few squashes from time to time and that won't hurt the overall production much, just remove them and let it resume! 
  3. The squash vine borer and squash bugs are the two biggest pests of squash plants.  Vine borers hatch from eggs laid at the base of the plant then burrow into the stems which cuts off the flow of nutrients and moisture to the rest of the plant.  If you see holes in the side of the stem and your plant is wilting vine borers are probably responsible. Once infected with vine borers there isn't much you can do.  Some people report that injections of Bt are effective although I have never tried it.  If you see signs of the borers begin planting new seeds or plants to continue production since they won't last a whole lot longer.  To prevent vine borers sprinkle diatemaceous earth on the stem. You will have to reapply after rains.  Squash bugs like to suck the juices from the plants which can introduce disease and take away moisture from the squash plants.  Companion plant some nasturtiums near your squash to repel them! 
  4. Squash can suffer from blossom end rot just like tomatoes and peppers.  It's a calcium deficiency so consider adding calcium to the soil through lime or bonemeal.  Watering with diluted whole milk may also do the trick.  I've noticed blossom end rot as a result of damage from squash vine borers so check the stems if you see blossom end rot to make sure you don't have the borers.  
  5. Summer squash blossoms are edible so consider adding them to salads or frying them up!  The flowers are either male or female which means you need both types to get a squash to form.  Plant two to increase your odds.  You will have a lot of squash coming your way so don't plant more than a couple plants at a time or you will risk being shunned by your neighbors each time you come to their door with another basket of zucchini!  Please consider donating the excess to local food pantries.  Do some research into recipes to make your squash produce as unique as possible - you're going to have a bunch!

We like squash grilled, as I said before, but frying it with onions is good too.  Zucchini bread is a common squash recipe for summer.

Do you grow summer squash?  How do you like to use it?

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