Squash

There are a huge number of different varieties of squash available to the home grower. There are smaller summer squash and winter squash and all come in a staggering array of sizes and colours and have a variety of different tastes and textures. While they can be somewhat temperamental and need to be treated correctly, squash can provide some wonderful nutrition and store extremely well.

Growing squash:

Squash are usually started indoors. Seeds should be sown between April and June for planting out into their final position outdoors or in a polytunnel or greenhouse when the weather has warmed up and there is no risk of chills that could kill off the delicate seedlings.

Remember that indoor grown plants will need to be hardened off before they go outside into their final growing position or the shock of being outdoors could be too much for them. Some squash are better suited to the northern reaches of the UK than others, being hardier and requiring lower temperatures so be sure to choose varieties appropriate to where you live.

You can grow some squash in grow bags or containers, or you can grow in the soil in your garden. If you are growing in the soil then when you plant the seeds indoors you should prepare the ground for your squash by making planting 'pockets' by digging a hole around 30cm cubed and filling this with a mix of good quality compost or well-rotted manure and soil. You should be left with a slight mound, into which you should plant your squash. This will help water to reach the roots without pooling around the stem and causing it to rot. The nutritious mix will help feed these rather hungry plants.

Water well and deeply but try to water right at the roots and try to avoid watering from overhead and wetting the stem and leaves. Keep the soil around the plants consistently moist and do not allow the plants to experience drought conditions.

The squash will benefit from a high potash fertiliser such as comfrey tea once the first fruits start to swell and you could continue to feed every couple of weeks throughout the season.

Harvest smaller summer squash as soon as they reach around 5-7cm in diameter and for larger squash, place something like a flat stone or tile beneath them as they grow to prevent them from rotting on the ground.

Why grow squash in the garden?

Squash can be a good companion plant for corn and beans and provide good ground cover. They are a delicious and healthy addition to any vegetable garden and can be prepared, cooked and easily stored in a variety of different ways.

Quick Facts

Latin Name
Cucurbita ssp.