Squash. What else can be said about it? It's a smash!
Common name : Squash
Scientific name : Cucurbita spp.
Family : Cucurbitaceae
Category : Veggies
Type of plant : Annual
Squash thrives in rich, well-drained soil, and direct sunlight. They can be harvested from September to November.
It can be planted in spring, or transplanted as a young seedling purchased commercially at the beginning of summer.
Planting should be done in warm temperatures - therefore, early seeding should be done under shelter, starting in March, keeping in mind that planting seedlings in open soil happens 25 days later once the frost has lifted. No need to anticipate too much.
Quite a few different varieties of squash exist!
Butternut squash is a tardy variety that grows on ground level vines. It has fine, yellow skin, and the edible parts are buttery and melting. May be eaten as soup, soufflé, gratin, mash, pie, jam...
Muscade squash is a running squash with thick, firm, bright orange skin. The flesh is of excellent quality, aromatic and nutty with a mild sweetness. Good preservation.
Spaghetti squash is also a runner, weighing between 2 to 4 kg, and producing 2 to 5 fruits per plant. Once cooked, the thin, light-yellow flesh breaks down into firm strands that resemble spaghetti.
Golden nugget squash is a also a runner, producing around 20 fruits per plant. These small squash measure from 6 to 8 cm in diameter and weigh between 50 and 200 grams. The flesh is a fibrous and thin pale yellow with a delicate aroma.
Sow my squash
You can sow in open soil starting at the end of April, once the risk of frost has passed in your region, until the end of summer. Sow in seed holes (3 seeds in the same hole) 2 to 3 centimeters deep, leaving 100 cm of space between each seed hole. A single plant can easily take up 4 full square meters — needless to say, it can invade an entire garden. Water carefully, even spraying the substrate until sprouting.
For inside seedlings, you can sow under shelter from March, avoiding the direct sun. You will avoid the stress of chasing slugs!
Sow in pans, 3 seeds per pot, on a bed of gravel or clay balls to ease drainage and prevent the roots from rotting. Add special potting soil up to 2/3 of the height of the container and tamp lightly. Then fill to top. Sow at 2-3 centimeters deep. Water gently.
Prune my squash
You can eventually prune the plants in order to maximize production. When the plant has produced five leaves per stem, pinch them off, leaving only two leaves on each stem. Once each stem has ten leaves, repeat, leaving cinq leaves on each stem. To finish, once the fruits have grown to a diameter of 5cm, pinch off all but two leaves about the fruit.
Plant my squash
Starting in May, if there is no longer a chance of frost, and 3 weeks have passed after sowing under shelter, plant your squash in loose, cool, and rich soil in the sun (you can add fresh compost to the planting hole). Careful: squash needs to be pollinated in order to bear fruits. It is therefore necessary to have several plants — male and female! - to encourage the crop.
Leave a space of about 2 square meters for a each plant. Water generously after planting and the following two weeks.
Mulch my squash
Mulch between the plants one to two weeks after the final planting, using a natural mulch which holds in moisture. This will limit evaporation from the soil, and thus the need to water and to weed.
Water my squash
Water the seedlings and new plantings two times a week without wetting the foliage!
During the summer, watch out for signs of dryness, particularly leaves leaning towards the ground.
Water generously, 2 or 3 times a week, and once less if you mulch, more if drought occurs.
Water the base twice daily without wetting the foliage to prevent powdery mildew.
Weed my squash
Weed regularly during the entire growth period, removing and renewing the mulch from time to time.
Reap my squash
The harvest takes place in autumn, when the fruit takes on an orange hue, the skin hardens and the stalk becomes very dry. The fruits hate moisture from the ground — place a layer of dry straw mulch underneath them.
Check on my squash
Watch for slugs which can devour the young plant in just one night. These pests can easily be diverted from your precious vegetables by an offering of beer or flour placed away from your crops (get the cheapest, they aren't very difficult to satisfy).
Remove my squash
Once the last fruit is harvested, don't forget to pull out the plants to make room for autumn planting! Correctly remove the roots and avoid composting the remains if the foliage shows signs of disease.
Dibble my squash
Starting in the beginning of May, once there's no more risk of freezing and 3 weeks after sowing if you sown under shelter, transplant in open soil - rich and deep and sunny.
Make sure each plant has enough room - 1 m2 for each, water thoroughly after transplanting and for the following 2 weeks.