Squash: 27+1 Hacks to easily Grow this Survival Food

Squash is a valuable addition to any survival garden. It stands out as a beginner-friendly vegetable, celebrated for its abundant yields, minimal upkeep, and modest requirements for fertilizers and water. Moreover, its nutritional richness adds to its appeal. Best of all, winter squash stores well for months, ensuring a steady food source throughout the year.

Why is Squash a Survival Food?

Squash (Cucurbita pepo L.) is a member of the Cucurbitaceae family and is among the 10 leading vegetable crops worldwide.[1]

Squash can be a valuable survival food because squash plants, especially winter squash varieties, produce a large quantity of food per plant. A single mature plant can yield several pounds of squash.

Moreover, winter squash, when properly cured (a drying process that hardens the skin), can be stored for several months in a cool, dry place. This extended shelf life makes it ideal for long-term food storage in a survival situation.

Also, squash offers a valuable source of essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, C, and K, as well as fiber. These nutrients contribute to a balanced diet and overall health, which is crucial for survival.

Pumpkin is one of these medicinal plants, which is cultivated all over the world and its fruits are traditionally used for human consumption to cure chronic diseases.[2]

As squash is a nutrient-dense food, it’s an excellent addition to any diet plan for weight loss.

Squash can be prepared and eaten in various ways, including roasting, boiling, steaming, and even raw in some cases. Its versatility makes it suitable for a wide range of culinary applications, allowing it to be incorporated into diverse meals and diets.

How to Grow Squash for a Survival Garden?Pin

Furthermore, squash plants are generally considered easy to grow compared to some other crops. They require moderate care and are suitable for beginner gardeners.

Additionally, many varieties of squash have a long shelf life when stored properly. Winter squash, in particular, can be stored for several months in a cool, dry place without spoiling. This makes it an excellent option for stockpiling and preserving food for times when fresh produce is scarce.

Last, but not least, many varieties of squash have a high water content, which can help contribute to hydration and provide essential fluids during times of scarcity or drought. Also, squash, like all fruits and vegetables are natural water filters. They provide high-quality, purified water.

How many Calories per square feet a year?

The number of calories you can get from growing squash per square foot per year can vary significantly depending on several factors such as the variety of squash, growing conditions, soil fertility, and cultivation practices.

A well-maintained winter squash plant in ideal conditions can produce 5–10 pounds of squash.

Depending on the variety, a pound of winter squash can provide around 100–220 calories.[3]

Assuming an average yield of 7.5 pounds per plant and 175 calories per pound:

Calories per plant = 7.5 pounds * 175 calories/pound = 1312.5 calories

Squash plants typically require 3-5 square feet of space per plant.

If you plant one squash plant per 4 square feet, and it yields 1312.5 calories, then you’d get approximately:
1312.5 calories / 4 sq ft = 328 calories per square foot (rough estimate).

This is a very general estimate. The actual calorie yield per square foot can vary significantly, depending on many factors.

Keep in mind that squash plants are vining crops and can take up a significant amount of space in a garden. This is a consideration, especially if you have limited space for growing food.

You can get around 300 calories per square foot from winter squash.

Are Flowers & Leaves edible?

Yes, both the flowers and leaves of squash plants are edible and can be incorporated into various culinary dishes.

Flowers

Squash flowers, particularly those of zucchini and other summer squash varieties, are delicacies in many cuisines around the world. The flowers have a delicate, slightly sweet flavor and a soft texture. They can be eaten:

  • raw in salads for a pop of color and flavor,
  • battered and fried, stuffed with savory fillings, or
  • used as a garnish for soups and other dishes.

Squash blossoms are excellent dietary sources of vitamin C, folate, carotenoids, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, and many other antioxidant compounds.[4,5]

While both male and female flowers are edible, the female flowers have a small squash attached at the base. You can choose to remove it before consumption or leave it on depending on the recipe.

Pick squash flowers early in the morning when they are fully open but haven’t started wilting.

Squash flowers are delicate and have a very short shelf life. Ideally, consume them the day you pick them.

Leaves

The leaves of squash plants are also edible, although they are not as commonly consumed as the flowers or fruits.

They are a good source of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as minerals like iron and calcium.

Young squash leaves can be cooked and eaten similarly to other leafy greens like spinach or kale. They can be sautéed, steamed, or added to soups and stews.

Keep in mind that squash leaves have a slightly bitter flavor similar to other leafy greens like kale or Swiss chard.

However, it’s important to note that mature squash leaves can be tough and fibrous, so it’s best to harvest and use them when they are young and tender.

When harvesting squash flowers or leaves for consumption, it’s essential to ensure that they are free from pesticides or other contaminants.

Moderation is key, especially if you’re trying these parts of the plant for the first time, as some people may have allergies or sensitivities to certain plant materials.

Gently rinse the flowers and leaves before using them.

How many Days to Grow Squash?

On average, most varieties of summer squash (such as zucchini and yellow squash) can be ready for harvest within 45 to 75 days after sowing the seeds. Examples include zucchini, yellow squash, and pattypan squash.

Winter squash (such as butternut and acorn squash) typically require a longer growing season of around 80 to 120 days.

Here’s a rough timeline for growing squash:

  1. Germination: Squash seeds typically germinate within 7 to 14 days after planting, depending on soil temperature and moisture levels.
  2. Seedling Stage: After germination, squash plants enter the seedling stage, during which they develop their first true leaves and establish their root systems. This stage usually lasts for 2 to 3 weeks.
  3. Vegetative Growth: Once established, squash plants begin to grow rapidly, producing vines, leaves, and flowers. This vegetative growth stage can last anywhere from 3 to 6 weeks, depending on the variety and growing conditions.
  4. Flowering and Fruit Development: Squash plants typically begin to flower within 4 to 6 weeks after planting. After pollination, the flowers develop into fruits, which gradually mature over the course of several weeks to months, depending on the variety.
  5. Harvest: Summer squash varieties are usually ready for harvest within 6 to 8 weeks after flowering, while winter squash varieties may take longer, typically around 2 to 3 months after flowering.

The time it takes to grow squash varies depending on several factors, including the specific variety of squash, growing conditions, and climate. These timelines are approximate.

It’s important to harvest squash at the right time to ensure optimal flavor and texture.

How to Grow Squash?

From Seeds or Seedlings?

There are two main ways to grow squash: directly sowing seeds outdoors or starting from seedlings.

Planting from Seeds Outdoors

This method is best suited for regions with long, warm growing seasons. Wait until the danger of frost has completely passed and soil temperatures reach at least 70°F (21°C).

Choose a location in your garden that receives full sun for at least 6-8 hours daily.

Prepare the soil by loosening it to a depth of 8-10 inches and mixing in compost or aged manure for added nutrients.

Sow seeds directly into the soil, following the recommended spacing guidelines on the seed packet. Squash plants are typically spaced 3-5 feet apart depending on the variety.

Water the seeds gently after planting and keep the soil moist until germination.

Once seedlings emerge and establish themselves, thin them to the recommended number of plants per hill.

Tips for Squash CultivationPin

Planting from Seedlings

This method is ideal for areas with shorter growing seasons or if you want to harvest your squash earlier. You can purchase seedlings from a nursery or start them indoors yourself a few weeks before the last frost date.

Starting Seedlings Indoors

Use a seed starting mix [BUY FROM AMAZON] and sow seeds in pots or trays.

Provide the seedlings with warmth (around 70°F) and plenty of sunlight.

You can use a heat mat to warm the soil before planting. [BUY FROM AMAZON]

Once the seedlings have a few true leaves and the danger of frost has passed, you can harden them off and transplant them outdoors.

Hardening Off Seedlings

This process gradually acclimates seedlings to outdoor conditions before transplanting. Here’s how:

  • Take the seedlings outdoors for a few hours each day, gradually increasing the duration over a week.
  • Protect them from direct sunlight and wind initially.
  • By the end of the hardening off period, the seedlings should be able to withstand outdoor conditions for the entire day.

If you’re a beginner, starting from seedlings might be easier as it gives the plants a head start. For experienced gardeners or those in warm climates, direct sowing outdoors can be a viable option.

Other Less Common Methods

Grafting: This is an advanced technique where a squash scion (top part) is grafted onto a more disease-resistant rootstock. It’s rarely used by home gardeners.

Mounding: This method involves creating small mounds of soil for planting squash seeds. It can help with drainage and improve soil temperature in cooler climates.

The ideal Pots for Squash Seeds

For starting squash seedlings indoors, a pot depth of 3-4 inches (7.5-10 cm) is sufficient. The roots of young squash seedlings won’t require a lot of space initially.

If you plan to transplant seedlings outdoors after a few weeks, a pot width of 2-3 inches (5-7.5 cm) per plant is okay.

You can use plastic, biodegradable peat, or terracotta nursery pots. All three options can work for growing squash seedlings, but each has its advantages and disadvantages.

If you live in a hot and dry climate, terracotta pots might dry out the soil too quickly. In such cases, plastic or peat pots with good moisture retention might be preferable.

Also, keep in mind that for larger squash varieties like butternut squash, you might need to start them in deeper pots sooner. Consider pot size options.

Tips to buy the best Squash Seeds & Seedlings

Seeds

Pay attention to the information on the seed packet. This includes the variety name, maturity date (days to harvest), planting instructions, and any special requirements for the specific squash variety.

Choose varieties with maturity dates suited to your growing season length. Opt for heat-tolerant varieties if you live in a hot climate or cold-tolerant varieties for cooler regions. Also, look for varieties with resistance to common squash diseases like powdery mildew or squash vine borers. This can help reduce the need for pesticides and improve your harvest success.

Open-pollinated seeds produce plants that can be saved and replanted the following season. Hybrid seeds, while often high-yielding, won’t necessarily produce true-to-type plants if you save their seeds.

Opt for seeds from reputable seed companies known for good germination rates and disease resistance. Look for companies with specific certifications like organic or heirloom seeds if those are important to you.

How to Grow Squash? | Hacks for Amateur GardenersPin

Seedlings

When buying seedlings, select plants that are a suitable size for transplanting into your garden. Avoid overly large or leggy seedlings.

Look for strong, vibrant seedlings with no signs of disease or pests. Inspect the seedlings for any signs of wilting, yellowing leaves, or insect damage. Avoid stressed-looking plants.

Don’t hesitate to ask the nursery staff about the specific squash variety, care requirements, and any special instructions for transplanting.

Is Squash considered an easy plant to grow?

Squash is generally considered an easy to moderately easy plant to grow, especially for beginner gardeners.

Squash plants grow quickly and produce a bountiful harvest in a relatively short time compared to some other vegetables while they don’t require constant attention or complicated care routines. Furthermore, many squash varieties can thrive in various climates with proper care.

However, squash are frost-sensitive and won’t survive cold temperatures. Understanding planting times and protecting seedlings from unexpected frosts is crucial.

Also, squash seedlings are susceptible to root rot. That’s why proper drainage is crucial. I use terracotta pots. As they’re very porous they allow better air circulation and faster moisture drainage.

Moreover, squash can be susceptible to certain pests like squash vine borers or diseases like powdery mildew or squash wilt.

How to control Diseases & Pests organically?

Disease Prevention

Above all, it’s crucial to practice crop rotation to prevent a buildup of soilborne diseases. Avoid planting squash in the same spot where they grew in the previous season.

Another hack is to water deeply and less frequently, aiming for the base of the plant rather than overhead watering. This discourages fungal diseases that thrive in moist conditions. If your soil holds excessive moisture, consider planting squash in raised beds with well-draining soil to improve drainage and reduce the risk of fungal diseases.

Additionally, you could apply a layer of organic mulch around your squash plants. This helps retain moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature.

Space your squash plants adequately to allow for good air circulation, which helps prevent fungal diseases.

Natural Pest Control

Plant certain herbs or flowers alongside your squash to deter pests. Examples include:

  • marigolds (against squash bugs)
  • nasturtiums (against aphids)
  • dill (attracts beneficial insects)

Diatomaceous earth is a powder made from fossilized algae that can be used as a dust to control crawling insects like squash bugs. Apply it carefully following package instructions. [BUY FROM AMAZON]

Also, you could spray squash leaves with neem oil. It’s a natural pesticide derived from the neem tree. It can be effective against various pests like aphids, mites, and squash bugs when used according to instructions. [BUY FROM AMAZON]

Moreover, you can use floating row covers made from a breathable fabric to protect young seedlings from pests like squash bugs and cucumber beetles. For small infestations, handpick and remove pests like squash bugs or cucumber beetles from your plants.

Organic Disease Management

A mixture of baking soda and water can be used as a fungicide to combat powdery mildew. Be sure to dilute it properly to avoid damaging leaves.

Insecticidal soap made from fatty acids can be effective against aphids, mites, and other soft-bodied insects. Again, follow dilution recommendations and test on a small area of the plant first. [BUY FROM AMAZON]

Also, introducing beneficial microbes like Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) can help control certain caterpillars that can damage squash plants.

How to treat Powdery Mildew?

Powdery mildew is a fungal disease that appears as white powdery patches on leaves and stems.

Even if you do all of the above preventative measures this squash disease may appear. You could also mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda and ½ teaspoon of liquid soap with 1 gallon of water. Spray this solution on leaves, ensuring good coverage but avoiding strong sunlight.

Another option is a potassium bicarbonate spray mixed according to product instructions.

How to treat Squash Wilt?

Squash wilt is a vascular disease caused by a soilborne fungus or bacterial infection. Unfortunately, there’s no organic cure for infected plants. You can only follow the aforementioned preventative measures.

How much Water?

The water needs for growing summer and winter squash are similar, as both types of squash require consistent and adequate moisture to thrive. Generally, squash plants need about 1 to 2 inches of water per week, including rainfall and irrigation.

Because they grow quickly and produce fruit over an extended period, summer squash plants often need more frequent watering, especially during peak production times. Winter squash plants may require more water during the fruiting stage to support the growth of their large fruits.

The best way to determine watering needs is to check the soil moisture level. Stick your finger a couple of inches into the soil. If it feels dry, it’s time to water.

Early morning watering is ideal: This allows the water to soak into the soil before the heat of the day increases evaporation.

Signs of Overwatering:

  • Wilting leaves (can also be a sign of underwatering)
  • Yellowing leaves
  • Stunted growth
  • Soft and mushy stems

Signs of Underwatering:

  • Wilting leaves (especially during the hottest part of the day)
  • Dry, crispy leaves
  • Reduced fruit production

Water at the base of the plant: Avoid overhead watering, which can promote fungal diseases.

How much Sunlight?

Summer and winter squash varieties need full sun, which means they require at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight per day. Adequate sunlight is essential for healthy growth, flowering, and fruit production. Squash plants can tolerate some partial shade (receiving 4-6 hours of direct sunlight), but they might not reach their full potential.

Plant squash in a location that receives unobstructed sunlight throughout the day. Avoid areas shaded by trees, buildings, or other structures.

Provide adequate spacing between plants to prevent them from shading each other. Proper spacing also promotes good air circulation, which helps prevent diseases.

For vining varieties, consider training the vines on a trellis to maximize sunlight exposure and save space. Regularly prune excessive foliage to ensure light penetration to all parts of the plant. If you have established plants that are casting shade on younger ones, consider strategically pruning some leaves to allow more sunlight to reach the shaded areas.

Keep in mind that in very hot climates, some afternoon shade might be beneficial during the hottest part of the day to prevent the scorching of leaves.

Growing Tips for SquashPin

What kind of soil is the best for Squash?

Squash thrive in rich, well-draining soil that provides good moisture retention and essential nutrients. They prefer a soil texture that’s well-balanced between sand, silt, and clay particles. This creates a good balance of drainage, aeration, and moisture retention.

Amending your soil with organic matter like compost, aged manure, or well-decomposed leaves improves its structure, drainage, and fertility. Aim for a mixture that is around one-third organic matter.

Squash generally prefers a slightly acidic soil pH in the range of 6.0 to 7.0.

Fertilizing

Squash are considered heavy feeders, meaning they require a good amount of nutrients throughout their growing season.

If you prefer using inorganic fertilizers, a balanced NPK fertilizer with equal parts nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (like a 10-10-10 blend) can be applied according to package instructions. While nitrogen is important for growth, too much nitrogen can lead to excessive leafy growth at the expense of fruit production.

Consider using a diluted liquid fertilizer every few weeks during the growing season. Fish emulsion or seaweed extract can provide a quick nutrient boost. [BUY FROM AMAZON]

However, prioritize organic amendments whenever possible for long-term soil health.

Signs Your Squash Need Fertilizer:

  • Slow Growth: If your squash plants are growing slowly and appear pale, it might be a sign they need additional nutrients.
  • Yellowing Leaves: Yellowing leaves, especially on older leaves, can indicate a lack of nitrogen.

Benefits of adding Bio-charcoal

Biochar is a porous material that can act like tiny sponges in the soil. This helps improve soil aeration and drainage, which is crucial for squash plants.

Biochar is essentially a type of charcoal that is produced with limited oxygen (through a process called pyrolysis), while regular charcoal is made with more oxygen, leading to a more complete burning process. Furthermore, biochar has a higher surface area and a more stable structure compared to regular charcoal

Good drainage prevents waterlogging, which can lead to root rot. While biochar improves drainage, it can also hold onto some moisture within its pores. This can be beneficial during dry periods, helping to retain some water in the soil and making it available to your squash plants for longer.

The porous surface of biochar can attract and hold onto essential plant nutrients like potassium, phosphorus, and some micronutrients. This can make them more readily available for your squash plants to absorb and utilize for growth. Also, it can provide a habitat for beneficial soil microbes. These microbes play a role in nutrient cycling, breaking down organic matter, and promoting plant health. [BUY BIOCHAR HERE]

According to a recent study, adding biochar (or “bio-charcoal”) to the soil media improves the growth and yield of squash plants. The presence of bio-charcoal resulted in a higher total fresh yield of 3.7 kg per pot, compared to 2.9 kg per pot without the addition of bio-charcoal. Also, the number of leaves per plant was higher with the addition of bio-charcoal (55 leaves) compared to without it (47 leaves). This indicates a significant increase in the productivity of the squash plants.[6]

Does Squash need Pruning?

Squash plants generally do not require extensive pruning, but there are some practices that can help improve their health and productivity.

Reasons for Pruning Squash

  • Improve Air Circulation: Pruning can help increase air circulation around the plants, which can reduce the risk of fungal diseases such as powdery mildew.
  • Manage Plant Size: Squash plants, especially vining types, can spread extensively. Pruning can help manage their size and keep them within a designated area.
  • Promote Fruit Development: Removing excess leaves and stems can help the plant direct more energy towards fruit production.

How to Prune Squash Plants?

  • Remove Damaged or Diseased Leaves: Remove any leaves that are yellowing, damaged, or showing signs of disease. This prevents the spread of disease.
  • Thin Out Crowded Areas: If the plant becomes very dense, you can selectively remove some of the larger, older leaves to allow more light and air to reach the center of the plant. Focus on the leaves at the base of the plant or those shading developing fruits.
  • Pinch Off Secondary Vines: For vining squash varieties, you can pinch off secondary vines that sprout from the main vine. This helps the plant focus its energy on producing and ripening fruits on the main vine. However, be cautious not to remove too many as it can reduce overall yield.
  • Remove Excess Flowers: In some cases, if the plant is producing more flowers than it can support, you can remove some of the male flowers (which are on longer, thinner stems and don’t produce fruit) to reduce competition for resources.

When to Prune Squash

  • Once Flowers Appear: Wait until your squash plants have started producing flowers before considering any pruning.
  • Focus on Non-Flowering Stems: Target for removal any non-flowering stems that are growing outwards or appear weak and unproductive.

Prune in the early morning when the plants are less stressed by heat. This also gives any wounds time to heal during the day.

Alternatives to Pruning:

  • Trellising: Training your squash plants vertically on a trellis can help manage their growth habit and improve air circulation without needing extensive pruning.
  • Pinching Off Flowers (Early Season): In some cases, if you have limited space or want to encourage the plant to focus on developing strong roots before fruit production, you can pinch off some early-forming flowers. However, avoid doing this extensively as it can significantly reduce your overall yield.

Drawbacks of Pruning Squash Leaves

Squash leaves are essential for photosynthesis, the process by which plants produce food. Excessive pruning can limit the plant’s ability to produce energy for growth and fruit development.

Any pruning can be stressful for plants, and squash are no exception. Make sure your plants are healthy and well-established before pruning. Always prune conservatively. Aim for no more than 1/3 of the total foliage at any given time.

Always use clean, sharp pruning shears to make clean cuts and reduce the risk of disease.

How is Squash Pollinated?

Squash plants rely on insect pollination for successful fruit production.

Squash plants have separate male and female flowers. There’s no need to buy separate male and female plants for any squash variety. Both male and female flowers exist on the same plant.

Male flowers are typically smaller and have a single stamen with pollen sacs containing the male reproductive cells (pollen). Typically appear earlier and in larger numbers than female flowers. They don’t develop into fruit.

Female flowers are larger and have a single pistil with an ovary (where the fruit will develop) and a stigma (receptive surface for pollen). They have a wider base that swells into the future squash fruit.

Insects, primarily bees, are attracted to the bright yellow color and nectar of both male and female squash flowers. As bees forage for nectar, they brush against the pollen sacs in the male flowers, picking up pollen on their hairy bodies. The bees then travel to female flowers, attracted by the nectar there as well.

While visiting the female flower, the pollen on the bee’s body brushes against the stigma. This transfers pollen grains to the female flower’s receptive surface. If pollination is successful, the pollen grains germinate on the stigma, sending a pollen tube down the style to the ovary. Fertilization occurs when the pollen tube reaches the ovule in the ovary, initiating fruit development.

Insects like bees play a crucial role in squash pollination. Healthy bee populations are essential for ensuring good fruit set and yield in your squash garden.[7,8]

If you notice a lack of bee activity or have concerns about pollination, you can hand-pollinate your squash plants. This involves carefully transferring pollen from male flowers to female flowers using a cotton swab or small paintbrush.

Can I grow Squash in a Container?

Absolutely! Squash can be successfully grown in containers, making them a great option for gardeners with limited space or who prefer to have more control over their growing environment.

Select a container that’s large enough to accommodate the mature plant’s root system. A pot with a diameter of at least 18 inches (46 cm) is recommended for most bush squash varieties.

Ensure your container has drainage holes to prevent waterlogging, which can harm squash plants. You can add a layer of gravel or broken pieces of pottery to the bottom of the pot to improve drainage. Use a high-quality, well-draining potting mix specifically formulated for vegetables. You can also create your own mix by combining potting soil, compost, and perlite or vermiculite for better drainage and aeration.

Opt for bush squash varieties that have a more compact growth habit compared to vining varieties. Look for terms like “bush” or “patio” in the variety name. Examples include bush zucchini, pattypan squash, and buttercup squash.

Companion Plants

Repel Pests and Attract Beneficial Insects

  • Nasturtiums: These vibrant flowers attract beneficial insects like ladybugs and hoverflies that prey on aphids and other common squash pests. Nasturtiums also deter squash bugs with their strong scent.
  • Marigolds are well-known for their pest-repelling properties. They emit a strong odor that discourages squash bugs, whiteflies, and other harmful insects.
  • Mint: The strong fragrance of mint can deter aphids, beetles, and other pests. However, be mindful of mint’s aggressive growth habit. Consider planting mint in a pot or using a root barrier to prevent it from taking over your squash patch.

Improve Air Circulation and Suppress Weeds

  • Beans are a good companion plant for squash as they grow on vertical poles, allowing for better air circulation around the base of your squash plants. Additionally, beans are nitrogen-fixing plants, which means they add nitrogen to the soil, benefiting squash growth.
  • Lettuce and Other Leafy Greens: These low-growing plants can thrive in the partial shade created by larger squash leaves. They also help suppress weeds by covering the soil surface.

Attract Pollinators

  • Borage flowers are rich in nectar and attract bees and other pollinators that are crucial for squash fruit set.
  • Sunflowers: These tall, cheery flowers attract pollinators and can also provide some afternoon shade for your squash plants in hot climates. However, choose varieties on the shorter side to avoid excessive shading.

Other Beneficial Companions

  • Corn can provide some support for climbing squash varieties. However, ensure there’s enough space for both plants to grow comfortably without excessive competition for resources.
  • Radishes: While the exact mechanism isn’t fully understood, some gardeners believe radishes help deter squash borers.

Never Grow these Plants with Squash

Both squash and potatoes are heavy feeders that demand a lot of nutrients from the soil. Planting them together can lead to competition for essential nutrients and water, potentially hindering the growth of both.

Squash and melons belong to the same family (Cucurbitaceae) and share some of the same pests and diseases. Planting them together can increase the risk of pest and disease problems for both crops.

While not necessarily harmful, cucumbers and squash are both cucurbits with similar nutrient needs. Planting them together might not provide significant benefits, and it’s generally recommended to rotate these crops in your garden bed to avoid potential disease buildup.

Corn (For Bush Squash) can be a good companion for climbing squash varieties by providing support. However, for bush squash varieties that grow lower to the ground, corn can create excessive shade.

Kohlrabi, Cabbage, Broccoli (and other Brassicas) are plants in the Brassica family that might release allelopathic chemicals that can inhibit the growth of squash. Additionally, strong-scented herbs like fennel and rue can have allelopathic effects on some vegetables, including squash.

When should I harvest Squash?

For summer squash like zucchini, pick them when they are young and tender, typically when they reach 6-8 inches in length. The smaller they are, the sweeter and more flavorful they will be.

Unlike summer squash, winter squash like pumpkins and acorn squash should be harvested when the rinds are fully hardened and the stem begins to brown and dry out. This indicates the squash has reached peak maturity and will store well.

Storage Tip

After harvesting winter squash, allow them to cure for a few weeks in a warm, well-ventilated area. This helps harden the rinds further, improving their storage life.

27+1 Growing Hacks that I wish I knew Sooner

Trap Crops: Plant a trap crop like blue hubbard squash nearby to attract squash vine borers and other pests away from your main crop.

Blossom Boost: To encourage more female flowers (the ones that produce fruit), you can try briefly pinching off the tips of some of the early-forming male flowers. This can redirect the plant’s energy towards female flower production. (Use caution and don’t remove too many male flowers, as you still need them for pollination.)

Pre-Sprout Seeds: Speed up germination by pre-sprouting your squash seeds indoors a few days before planting. Wrap them in a damp paper towel and place them in a warm location until a small root emerges.

Hill Planting: For improved drainage and faster warming of the soil, plant your squash seeds in mounds or hills instead of flat soil. This can be especially beneficial in cooler climates.

Double Up on Seeds: Plant two seeds per hill, and then thin to the stronger seedling after they germinate. This helps ensure you have a healthy plant established early on.

Intercropping: Utilize empty spaces between young squash plants by planting faster-growing vegetables like lettuce or radishes. Once the squash plants mature, you can harvest the intercropped greens.

Hacks for Growing SquashPin

Interplanting with Aromatics: Plant aromatic herbs like dill, oregano, and thyme near squash to repel pests and attract beneficial insects.

Use Reflective Mulch: Aluminum foil or silver plastic mulch can reflect light onto the undersides of leaves, deterring aphids and other pests. (Make sure the foil doesn’t touch the stem directly.)

Vertical Growing: Train vining squash varieties to grow vertically on trellises. This saves space, improves air circulation, and makes harvesting easier.

Epsom Salt: Use a diluted solution of Epsom salt (1 tablespoon per gallon of water) as a foliar spray to provide magnesium, which can enhance plant growth and fruit production.

Diatomaceous Earth: Dust the base of your squash plants with diatomaceous earth to deter crawling pests like cutworms and slugs. However, be sure to reapply after rain or watering.

Coffee Grounds: Coffee grounds can be a mild deterrent to some pests like slugs and snails. However, use them sparingly as too much can alter soil pH.

Eggshell Protection: Crush eggshells and sprinkle them around the base of your squash plants to deter some crawling pests like cutworms.

Start Seeds Indoors: Begin seeds indoors 2-4 weeks before the last frost date to give squash plants a head start, ensuring they have a long enough growing season.

Warm the Soil: Squash seeds germinate best in warm soil (70-95°F). Use black plastic mulch or row covers to warm the soil before planting.

Companion Planting: Plant squash with companions like beans, corn, and radishes. Nasturtiums and marigolds can help deter pests like squash bugs and beetles.

Hand Pollination: If you notice poor fruit set, try hand-pollinating flowers. Use a small brush or cotton swab to transfer pollen from male to female flowers.

Use Row Covers: Protect young plants with row covers to keep pests like squash vine borers and cucumber beetles at bay. Remove covers when plants start to flower to allow for pollination.

Planting Depth and Spacing: Plant seeds about 1 inch deep and space plants at least 3 feet apart for bush varieties and 4-6 feet for vining types to allow for proper air circulation and growth.

Mulching: Apply mulch around plants to conserve moisture, suppress weeds, and keep the soil temperature stable. Organic mulch like straw or grass clippings works well.

Consistent Watering: Squash needs consistent moisture, especially during flowering and fruiting. Water deeply once or twice a week, providing 1-1.5 inches of water each time.

Drip Irrigation: Use drip irrigation to deliver water directly to the roots, reducing the risk of fungal diseases caused by wet foliage.

Pruning for Better Airflow: Prune some of the large, older leaves to improve air circulation, reducing the risk of fungal diseases like powdery mildew.

Soil Amendments: Add organic matter like compost or aged manure to the soil before planting to improve fertility and structure.

Harvesting at the Right Time: For summer squash, harvest when the fruits are small and tender (6-8 inches long). For winter squash, wait until the skin is hard and can’t be easily pierced with a fingernail.

Rotate Crops: Practice crop rotation by not planting squash or other cucurbits in the same spot year after year to prevent soil-borne diseases and pest buildup.

Seed Saving: Did you know you can save seeds from your open-pollinated squash varieties? Allow a few fruits to mature fully on the vine, then collect and dry the seeds for planting next season.

Straw Bale Squash Patch: For a unique space-saving option, try growing squash on a straw bale. Prepare the bale properly and ensure adequate watering for successful results. (This method requires more attention to watering and nutrient needs.)

Alternatives for a Survival Garden

Squash can be a valuable addition to a survival garden, but it’s best used as part of a diverse planting strategy to ensure a more reliable and well-rounded food source. A survival garden should include a variety of crops that are easy to grow, nutrient-dense, and can be stored for long periods. Plant a variety of crops to ensure a balanced diet and mitigate the risk of crop failure.

High-Calorie, Storable Staples

  • Potatoes: Highly nutritious and versatile, they store well for extended periods.
  • Sweet Potatoes: Rich in vitamins and nutrients, they store well in cool, dry places.
  • Corn: Provides carbohydrates and can be dried for long-term storage.
  • Peanuts: A good source of protein and healthy fats. Peanuts can be shelled and stored for extended periods.
  • Sunflower Seeds: Highly nutritious seeds from your sunflower plants, offering protein, healthy fats, and vitamins.
Secrets for Squash CultivationPin

Easy-to-Grow Root Vegetables

  • Carrots: Easy to grow, rich in vitamins A and beta-carotene, and store well for months.
  • Beets: Nutrient-dense, with both roots and greens being edible.
  • Radishes: Fast-growing and can be eaten raw or cooked.
  • Turnips: Both the roots and greens are edible and offer valuable nutrients.
  • Parsnips: Similar to carrots with a sweeter flavor, they store well over winter.

Essential Flavor Boosters and Medicinal Plants

  • Onions: A fundamental ingredient for flavoring food, with a long shelf life.
  • Garlic: Adds flavor and has potential medicinal properties.

Leafy Greens Powerhouses

  • Kale: Hardy, nutrient-dense, and thrives in cooler temperatures.
  • Collard Greens: Similar to kale, they are nutritious and easy to grow.
  • Spinach: Fast-growing and packed with nutrients.
  • Swiss Chard: Hardy, provides multiple harvests, and offers valuable nutrients.
  • Lettuce: Quick-growing and provides fresh greens for salads.

Beans for Protein and Nitrogen-Fixing

  • Green Beans: Easy to grow and can be canned or dried for long-term storage.
  • Peas: Can be eaten fresh or dried for extended storage.
  • Kidney Beans: These red-colored beans are a staple in many cuisines and offer a good source of protein and fiber. They can be dried for long-term storage.
  • Black Beans: Popular for their rich flavor and versatility, black beans are a good source of protein and fiber. They can be dried for storage.
  • Pinto Beans: A common ingredient in chili and refried beans, pinto beans are another excellent source of protein and fiber, and they store well when dried.
  • Navy Beans: These small white beans are used in baked beans and soups. They offer protein and fiber and can be dried for long-term storage.

Fruits and Vegetables with Preservation Options

  • Tomatoes (Cherry or Bush Varieties): Provide essential vitamins and can be preserved through canning or drying.
  • Bell Peppers: Nutrient-rich and can be eaten fresh or preserved.

Flavorful and Functional Herbs

  • Herbs (like basil, oregano, thyme): Enhance flavor in cooking and may have some medicinal properties.
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Quiz: Benefits of Squash & Pumpkin Seeds for Weight Loss!

Unveiling the secrets and true power of Squash for Weight Loss & good Health | Fun Facts & Myths!

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Pumpkin is a good dietary source of Iron.

History of Squash & Pumpkin Seeds in the Mediterranean DietPin

Squash has a moderate Glycemic Index.

History of Squash & Pumpkin Seeds in the Mediterranean DietPin

What’s the most important nutrient in pumpkin seeds that supports sleep?

History of Squash & Pumpkin Seeds in the Mediterranean DietPin

How much tryptophan, the sleep-enhancing amino acid, does a serving of pumpkin seeds provide?

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Pumpkin seeds can reduce hunger.

Eat Squash & Pumpkin Seeds at Dinner for better SleepPin

Cooking destroys most nutrients in squash.

Eat Squash & Pumpkin Seeds at Dinner for better SleepPin

Pumpkin seeds are a complete vegan protein.

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Squash is rich in Polyphenols.

Eat Squash & Pumpkin Seeds at Dinner for better SleepPin

Pumpkin seeds are among the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat every day.

Eat Squash for Weight LossPin

Squash is packed with Vitamin C.

Why should Athletes eat Squash every day?Pin

How many Calories are in a serving of Squash?

Eat Squash for Weight LossPin

Eating a handful of pumpkin seeds a day will make you fat.

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The best time of the day to eat pumpkin seeds is at breakfast.

A list of vegan foods rich in phosphorus.Pin

Squash is rich in Carotenoids.

Growing PumpkinPin

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