Growing your own food at home is rewarding. You know exactly which chemicals were sprayed on your plants, or that none were. When you’re eating, you get that satisfying feeling of hard work paying off. Here I’ll give you instructions on how to grow squash at home, how to plant them, care for them, and defend them from pests.
You should grow squash in warm soil, so you have two options for propagation.
1) In pots – If you live in a cooler climate or you wish to sow in mid- to late spring, sow the seeds in pots.
- Soak the seeds overnight.
- Sow one-inch deep in a three-inch pot.
- Move them to a five-inch pot when they’re big enough to handle.
- Move them outside in the manner described below after about three weeks.
2) In situ – If you are sowing in late spring to early summer, you can sow in situ, or outside.
- About a week before you intend to sow, dig a hole 12-18 inches square and fill it halfway up with well-rotted manure.
- Plant two or three seeds.
- Sow one-inch deep.
- Cover with a jar.
- Once they are seedlings, remove all but the strongest one.
- Grow squash about four feet apart in a sunny area.
Growing and Maintenance
Well, they’re in the ground, now what? Water your plants with about three gallons of water per week and feed with a liquid fertilizer once every other week. If you’re growing a trailing variety of squash, such as zucchini, train them over a trellis or around pegs in the ground. Pull out weeds from around the plants.
You may have several pests attempting to eat your squash before you get to. Here are some common pests you may deal with when you grow squash and ways to control them.
1) Squash bug – This is a brown or gray, hard-shelled bug, about 5/8-inch long with orange and brown stripes on its belly. Its eggs are shiny and copper-colored and you’ll see them on the underside of leaves. One way to know this pest is eating your plants is yellow flecks on the leaves. Here’s how to control them:
- Remove and destroy leaves with eggs on them.
- Pick off adult or nymph-stage bugs every morning.
- Put picked off bugs in soapy water.
2) Slugs – These are black, brown, gray or yellow soft-bodied creatures covered in mucus. Their eggs are translucent balls laid in clusters in the soil.
You’ll know this pest is around if you see slime trails which are shiny when dry. Here’s how to control them:
- Pick off by hand every night after 10.
- Use a flashlight to find them, and you may want to wear gloves.
- Put slugs in a container of soapy water.
- Leave a dead slug in your garden to attract others, making them easier to find.
Pick zucchini when they are about four inches long and tender. You can check for tenderness by inserting your fingernail into a plant. Harvest winter squashes from late summer to autumn. After harvesting, clean up and remove all leaves, stems and other debris from the plants to discourage pests from staying there.