From long and thin to short and stout, dark to light, and bumpy to smooth, squash is a tasty summer vegetable with a lot to love. These versatile vegetables are fast-growing and prolific. Not to mention delicious and nutritious as well!
If you’re interested in learning how to plant squash, this article is for you. Keep reading and I’ll show you everything you need to know to grow your own tasty squash this year. You’ll learn how to start squash from seed, how to provide the right growing conditions, how to care for squash plants as they grow, and more.
Different Kinds of Squash
The first step in learning how to plant squash is to decide what variety (or varieties) you’d like to grow. There are so many interesting and unique varieties of squash, the options are nearly endless! They come in all different shapes, sizes, colors, and textures.
Winter Squash vs. Summer Squash
Squash is usually categorized into two main types: winter squash and summer squash. Both types have similar growing requirements and are planted the same way.
The name has to do with when the squash is eaten, rather than when it’s grown.
Winter squash has a tough outer skin that protects the fruit after it’s harvested. Popular varieties include butternut, acorn, and spaghetti squash. Winter squash can be eaten soon after it’s harvested in late summer to early fall, or it can be stored in a cool, dry, place and enjoyed all through the winter. The skin is edible, but it’s tough and doesn’t taste good so most of the time it’s removed before eating.
Winter Squash Varieties to Try
Summer squash, on the other hand, has soft, tender skin. It’s usually eaten right along with the flesh. Popular varieties included zucchini, pattypan, and crookneck squash. These types of squash are eaten right away, in the summer. Without that tough outer layer of skin to protect them, they don’t last for long-term storage without being preserved in some way.
Summer Squash Varieties to Try
Are Pumpkins Squash?
Yes! Pumpkins are another type of winter squash. Pumpkins come in all different shapes, sizes, and colors. They’re fantastic for both eating and decorating.
All of the same information on how to plant squash applies to planting pumpkins as well. One thing to keep in mind is that some varieties of pumpkins can get quite large! If you’re planting pumpkins, give them plenty of space to grow.
To learn more about all things pumpkin, check out the Pumpkin Plants page on our website!
Growing Conditions for Squash
The next step in learning how to plant squash is to provide the right growing conditions. When you provide the right conditions, your squash plants are set up for success right from the start.
All squash are heavy feeders. They perform best in rich, fertile soil that’s filled with organic matter. Add several inches of compost to your soil before planting squash to give it some extra nutrients. If you don’t have compost available, use an organic fertilizer like AgroThrive.
Squash likes soil with a pH between 6.0. and 6.8. Soil tests are a quick and easy way to check your soil pH. If the pH is too high or too low, you can adjust it by adding soil amendments like dolomite lime.
Plant squash in a sunny location that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight each day. Squash thrives in full sun but may wilt during extremely hot temperatures. To prevent wilting, keep squash watered during hot or dry conditions.
Squash plants love the heat of late spring and early summer. They thrive in warm temperatures so wait to plant them until all danger of frost has passed and daytime temperatures are regularly in the 70s or above.
All squash are vining plants. They need lots of room to stretch and grow. If space is limited, growing squash vertically is a great way to maximize space.
Depending on the type of squash you’re growing, you can use a trellis, cattle panel, stakes, or other support to grow squash vertically.
Growing squash vertically has the added benefit of keeping fruit and leaves off the ground. Lifting the plants up off the soil helps to reduce problems with pests and disease.
Starting Squash Seeds Indoors
Starting squash indoors is a practical and affordable way to grow squash. It’s a great way to get a head start on the growing season so you can enjoy the harvest as early as possible!
The best time to start squash seeds indoors is 2-4 weeks before the last frost.
Seed Starting Equipment
You don’t need a lot of fancy equipment to start seeds at home. There are good options in every price range and you may already have things around the house that will work.
The main things you’ll need are a container to plant seeds in, a good growing medium, and a light source like a sunny window or a grow light.
Here are recommendations for some of my favorite seed starting supplies. I’ve used all of these products myself with excellent results so I feel good about recommending them to you.
How to Start Squash Seeds Indoors
Squash plants don’t like to be transplanted, so it’s best to start them in small containers rather than seed trays. That way, you don’t have to risk disturbing the roots when you pot them up. Biodegradable pots like these organic peat pots from Jiffy are a great option. When it comes time to plant your squash seedlings in the garden, just plant the whole thing in the ground.
Plant the Seeds
Choose your container and fill it with seed starting mix or high-quality potting soil. Plant 1-2 seeds per container to a depth of about an inch. Water thoroughly.
If you have a heat mat, set your containers on the mat and plug it in. Heat mats aren’t required but they do help seeds germinate faster.
Caring For Squash Seedlings
Seeds need light as soon as they start to emerge. At the first sign of sprouting, place the containers under a grow light or in front of a sunny window. Water the plants regularly so that the soil stays moist but not soggy.
When seeds have fully sprouted, thin the plants to one per container by using sharp scissors to snip away the extra plants at the soil level.
Fertilize the seedlings with an organic fertilizer when they have their first set of true leaves.
Make sure the seedlings have good air circulation by rotating the containers regularly or using a fan.
Direct Sowing Squash
Direct sowing is another good option for planting squash seeds. Most squash varieties are fast growers, with some being ready to harvest in as little as 40 days. Plus, planting squash seeds directly in the ground often results in stronger plants overall.
How to Plant Squash Seeds In the Garden
To direct sow squash seeds, first, choose a suitable planting location and prepare the soil. Plant squash seeds in hills or rows with plenty of space between plants. Since the proper spacing varies depending on the variety, check the back of your seed packet for the recommended spacing.
Squash seeds should be planted about an inch deep.
If you’re planning to grow squash vertically, put your support in place at the time of planting. That way, you won’t risk disturbing the plants’ roots by adding support later on.
Water thoroughly and keep the seeds moist as the seeds are germinating.
How to Plant Squash Seedlings
One of the easiest ways to grow squash is to start with seedlings from a garden center or nursery. Popular varieties like zucchini and butternut squash are readily available and easy to find in the late spring and early summer months.
Be Careful of the Roots
When you’re getting ready to plant squash seedlings in the ground, the first thing you need to know is that squash plants are very temperamental about having their roots disturbed. They don’t like it one bit and they can easily be damaged when transplanting.
When removing your plants from their previous containers be very careful not to disturb the roots.
Planting Squash Seedlings in the Garden
Dig a hole in the soil that’s twice as large as the current container. Carefully remove your plant and gently place it in the hole. Fill the hole with soil and gently press it down so the plant is buried at the same height it was in the previous container. Water thoroughly and watch it grow!
Caring for Squash Plants as They Grow
Once your plants are in the ground, providing the right care is simple.
Water squash plants at least once a week. They need about an inch of water each week to stay healthy. In hot or dry conditions, they may need as much as two inches per week.
To reduce the risk of fungal disease, water at the base of the plants rather than overhead.
Since they’re such heavy feeders, squash plants benefit from regular fertilizing. Use a balanced fertilizer to feed your plants about once every two weeks.
Wrapping up How to Plant Squash
Once you know how to plant squash, getting started is simple! At Minneopa Orchards, we’re passionate about helping you grow a healthy garden every step of the way. We have resources on all things growing to help you make the most of each growing season.
For more planting and growing tips, check out the Seed Starting page on our website. There you’ll find guides on how to plant dozens of different vegetables, herbs, and flowers, plus get resources to help you along the way. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced gardener, there’s something for everyone!