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You know summer has arrived when you see the first burst of yellow flowers under the large green leaves of the garden squash plant. Known as yellow, summer, garden, crooked neck and straight neck squash, it’s a versatile vegetable that is easy to grow in any home garden. Use these planting and growing tips so you can enjoy the fresh goodness of yellow squash right from your own garden.
Plant yellow squash in a location that will receive at least six hours of direct sun per day. The plant will do best if a little shade is provided from the scorching afternoon sun. You can provide the shade for the squash plant by planting tall plants, like tomatoes or corn, on the west side of the squash.
Have a soil test done on the garden soil before planting anything in your home garden. Amend the soil as recommended by the soil test when the garden soil is tilled. A soil test kit can be purchased at any home and garden center or take a soil sample to your local county extension office for analysis. You can refer to Rodale’s OrganicLife 10 Easy Soil Tests for further information.
Add amendments plus three inches of compost or well-rotted cow manure, then till everything in to the depth of 12 inches. According to Cornell University, yellow squash
Planting Seeds or Plants
Yellow squash grows best when planted in hills. To create the planting hills, create a round mound of soil that is 12 inches around and four inches high. Allow two feet between each hill on all sides. Place two squash seeds on top of the soil in the center of the hill, two inches apart. Lightly sprinkle soil or compost over the seeds and then water them.
When starting with plants, prepare the hills in the same way and place one plant in the center of each hill in a shallow hole. Water well.
Water, Food and Mulch
Yellow squash plants grow very fast and produce vegetables equally as fast, so a constant supply of moisture will be needed. Keep the soil moist at all times and apply a water soluble fertilize mixed at one-half the recommended rate once per week.
Add a layer of organic mulch around each plant to help retain moisture and prevent weed growth.
Once garden squash has begun to mature, you no longer need to fertilize the squash plants, but continue with regular watering. Keep a watchful eye on maturing squash, they will double in size overnight.
An adult squash borer (a.k.a squash vine borer, pumpkin vine borer) is often mistaken for a bee or wasp and allowed to continue on its garden destruction path undisturbed. The adult squash borer is an orange and black moth, killing it before it lays eggs in your squash plant will help stop the reproduction cycle which produces the garden-destroying larvae.
An adult squash borer will lay her eggs near the base of the plant about the same time the plant starts to bloom. Inspect squash plants regularly during this growing stage and remove any eggs you see.
If you use chemical pesticides to prevent squash borers, apply the chemical several times throughout the growing season on and around the plant base.
All is not lost even after squash borers have entered the vine and begun feeding. If you act fast to remove the squash borers, the plant can be saved.
Slice the stem of the plant lengthwise with a sharp knife, starting at the point of the squash borers’ entry. Follow the trail of destruction up the vine, remove and destroy all the borers in stem with a needle or toothpick.
Bury the sliced portion of the squash stem in the garden soil. The buried portion will grow new roots and the squash will continue to grow and produce.
Read 6 Ways to Control Squash Bugs in Your Garden by The Free Range Life to learn more pest prevention techniques.
Harvest yellow squash when it’s about 8 inches long. The diameter of each squash will vary, so 8 inches in length is a good rule of thumb for harvesting squash. Any longer than 8 inches and the squash seeds will be large and detract from the delicate squash flavor.
The large yellow squash flower is edible and makes delectable side dish when stuffed and cooked.
Grasp the squash at the neck near the squash plant and with a quick pull and twist motion, remove it from the plant. Harvest squash in the early morning or late evening to lessen the stress on the plant. You can harvest your garden squash when it is smaller than 8 inches, any time after the green squash has turned yellow.
Store your garden squash on the countertop (not in refrigerator) as-is until you are ready to use it. Wash and slice when ready to cook, no need to peel squash as the peel is tender and flavorful.