Squash is part of a family of vegetables that includes pumpkins. The popular zucchini is a type of squash. There are two different main types of squash: winter and summer. Each type has many varieties to choose from.
Summer squash come in many shapes and sizes. But there are three main shapes of summer squash. Scallop or also known as patty pan are rounded and flat and resemble a dandelion in shape. Some summer squash can be straight-necked or crooked-necked, smaller at the top than the bottom. The last main shape is a club shape, the body being uniform in size throughout the length of the squash.
Squash also can be bush and vining type. Bush type squash bush out to about three to four feet wide. Vining type squash vine out much like cucumbers and need much more space. You can save space by using a trellis or vegetable netting to grow vining squash upward.
Summer squash types
Growing Squash Tips
Most squash plants are generally started by seed but can be started indoors in pots. If you are starting indoors, start them about two to three weeks before you plan to set them out. Squash are warm loving plants and do not tolerate frost well so be sure that chances of frost are over usually in late spring and early summer.
Squash will thrive in almost any soil as long as it does not become waterlogged for an extended period of time. It will also need to be watered daily as the summer heat builds. If transplanting, make sure the transplant has been hardened off first. Hardening off the plant involves placing the seedling in a well protected area outside first so that it gets use to the climate outdoors. Make sure that it does not get too cold during the nights the transplant is out.
If planting by seed, make mounds of dirt and place three or four seeds in the mound. If the squash are a bush type squash then leave a space of three or four feet between mounds. If they are a vining type squash, give five to six feet of space. The seeds need only be one or two inches apart in the mound. Squash are voracious growers and only a few plants are needed to keep a steady supply all summer and fall.
If the soil is too poor or if you want to grow squash in a space confined area, grow them in containers. Tires are a good alternative to the traditional containers. One, recycling tires is good for the environment. Two, tires provide extra heat due to their black color. Use a gardening soil, top soil or potting soil that is suitable for vegetable gardening.
Traditional pots can be used in place of the tire. Buy a pot that is big enough since most squash will bush out or vine. For vining squash such as acorn squash or spaghetti squash, a trellis or netting can be used to allow the vines to grow up thus, saving space. For bush type squash such as some winter squash and zucchini and scallop type squash, give space of about three to four feet around the pot.
Since squash are voracious growers they will produce a fairly big size of harvest. Pinching back some of the blossoms as they flower can sometimes help keep the squash in check. The more you pick the fruit, once they start fruiting, the more the plant will produce. Most squash can be harvested from the time they reach about three inches to a larger size dependant on the type of squash they are.
Summer squash take about two months to maturity and winter squash take three to four months.
Summer squash varieties are: Chayote, Cucuzza, Globe, Golden Zucchini, Patty Pan, Yellow Crookneck/Straighneck and Zucchini.
Winter squash types
1. Kabocha Squash
– Green to bluish–gray color
– Deep–yellow flesh
– Rich and sweet flavor
– Dry and flakey when cooked
– Seeds can be roasted
2. Delicata Squash
– Small and elongated with dark green striping
– Soft–textured for easy cutting or chopping
– Tastes similar to sweet potatoes and corn
– Creamy texture
– Seeds are great for roasting
3. Spaghetti Squash
– Small, watermelon–shaped and yellow–skinned
– Look for ones that are bright yellow
– Mild, nutty flavor
– Flesh separates, resembling noodles when cooked
4. Butternut Squash
– Beige in color and shaped like a bell
– Sweet nutty taste
– Similar in taste to pumpkin
– Excellent roasted, toasted, or puréed for soup
5. Carnival Squash
– Looks like acorn squash with orange spots and dark green vertical stripes
– Yellow flesh is excellent baked or steamed
– Flavors of sweet potato and butternut
6. Acorn Squash
– Shaped like an acorn
– Sweet, slightly fibrous flesh
– Seeds are great for roasting
7. Sweet Dumpling Squash
– Resembles a miniature pumpkin with cream–colored skin and green specks
– Sweet and tender orange flesh
– Perfect for baking and stuffing.