The Secrets to Successful Squash
A longtime favorite crop among backyard gardeners, squash grow quickly and produce furiously. To successfully grow your own squash, follow this simple guide.
Squash come in many shapes in sizes. But there are two main types:
- Summer squash, including zucchini and yellow varieties, are often distinguished by bushy (rather than vining) growth.
- Winter squash, such as acorn and butternut, are typically vining plants that require more space and time to grow. But they produce fruit with tougher skins, which allows you to store harvests much longer than you can summer varieties.
All types of squash love sun and heat. So for best results (and bigger harvests), grow squash in full sun once temperatures consistently stay above 70˚.
Fun Fact: Squash is so prolific that August 8 is officially designated National Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day—a day dedicated to giving away excess harvests.
You may need to hand pollinate your squash for reliable yields.
Planting, Pruning, Pollinating and Protecting Squash
Ready to grow squash in your Tower Garden? Start by planting no more than 2 seeds per rock wool cube. Once they sprout, place seedlings outside in the sun for 3–4 weeks before transplanting to your Tower Garden.
Tower Tip: For step-by-step instructions on starting seeds and transplanting seedlings, reference page 7 of the Tower Garden Growing Guide.
Since both summer and winter varieties grow quite large, we recommend planting squash in the bottom section of your Tower Garden. Be sure to monitor water levels as your plants grow, as squash are heavy feeders.
To encourage healthy, more manageable growth, consider supporting plants with a tomato cage or similar structure. You should also prune your plants occasionally to improve air circulation. This will help prevent powdery mildew and other common squash diseases.
Squash are notorious for needing help with pollination. If your plants produce flowers but no fruit, or if your squash shrivel and die before growing large enough to harvest, try hand pollinating.
With Tower Garden, you’re less likely to encounter pests. But it’s still a good idea to regularly inspect your plants for common squash pests, such as cucumber beetles and shield bugs. And it’s even better to know what to do if you find them. Learn how to naturally control garden pests here.
Harvesting and Eating Squash
Most summer squash varieties will be ready to harvest about 60 days after planting. To harvest, simply cut fruits from the vine once they are 6–8 inches long. If you wait much longer, they will become less tender and flavorful.
Winter squash are a little different. When the rind of a fruit is hard enough to resist being punctured with a fingernail, it’s ready to harvest. You can usually store winter squash in a cool, dark place for up to 6 months.
Ready to eat your homegrown squash? Tower Gardeners recommend using it in ratatouille, fried rice and soups. And did you know squash flowers make a nice treat, too? They’re often used to decorate salads and enjoyed as fried snacks.
Do you have questions about growing squash? Leave us a comment below.
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