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Squash Planting Guide

Get ready for one of the most abundant crops you can grow! Squash and pumpkins are prolific growers for very little effort and your reward will be a summer harvest that can feed you well into fall and winter. While some squash, like zucchini, are called “summer squash” and some, like butternut or spaghetti, are called winter squash, they are all grown to be picked in summer. Winter squash, however, as well as pumpkins, can be stored in a cool, dry place for several months—a great way to stretch out that homegrown goodness. Read on for some easy tips that will have you reaping a bounty of these popular veggies!

Success Snapshot

PLANTING
DEPTH

Plant just above soil line. Mulch & add support under squash and pumpkins to prevent disease and blemishes.

WATER
QUANTITY

Moderate; Avoid wet foliage.

SUNLIGHT
QUANTITY

Full Sun

PLANTING
PROXIMITY

Variety specifc; Generally 5-6 ft.

BLOOM
SEASON

Summer - Fall Harvest

HARDINESS
ZONES

Plant after frost

Where to Plant Squash and Pumpkins

Plant in the ground or in containers in full sun in well-draining soil. If you find water pooling for several hours, it’s best to plant in a raised bed or container. Adding a layer of compost and working it into the soil before planting will get your veggies off to a good start. Make sure there is enough room for the vines to stretch out along the ground. Except for the largest-fruiting varieties, the vines can also be grown vertically tied to a trellis or other support structure.


When to Plant Squash and Pumpkins

Plant squash and pumpkin plants in the spring when the weather has warmed, and the danger of frost has passed.


How to Plant Squash and Pumpkins

  • Find a location with full sun and well-draining soil. If you notice that water still puddles 5 to 6 hours after a hard rain, it's best to find a different spot or plant in a container or raised bed.
  • Plant your Squash and Pumpkin plants as soon as possible after they arrive. If you can’t plant immediately, make sure to give them a drink of water and set them somewhere out of direct sun and wind until you can get them planted.
  • Dig a hole the same depth as the nursery container. Remove the plant from the container and set in the hole. If the roots look compacted, it’s okay to gently loosen them a bit. Fill the hole with soil and tamp down firmly. Squash and Pumpkins should be planted 6’ apart if growing horizontally. When growing vertically, the vines can be planted closer together.
  • Water thoroughly after planting to settle the soil around the roots.

How to Grow Squash and Pumpkins

  • Water every week; 1” of water is a good estimate. Drip irrigation or soaker hoses help get the water right at the roots with minimal evaporation and reduce the spread of diseases like powdery mildew.
  • Add a light mulch of compost to the surrounding soil to improve drainage and keep competing weeds at bay.
  • Apply a balanced fertilizer after planting and every month until harvest.

Squash and Pumpkins Tips & Tricks

  • Support heavy squash growing vertically by tying a sling of some kind of stretchy fabric under the fruit and attaching it securely to the trellis.
  • Protect pumpkins or squash from rotting when they’re growing horizontally on the ground by sliding a piece of wood or some other protection underneath them to keep them off of the damp soil.
  • Watch out for pests like beetles and slugs, which can do a lot of damage. Handpick the bugs or use floating row covers to prevent infestations.
  • Harvest summer squash when the fruits are still tender and the blossoms on the fruits have died back. If they get too large, the flavor and texture degrades.
  • Harvest winter squash when they reach full size and are hard. They will keep in storage for several months.
  • Harvest pumpkins when they’re fully colored and hard. They will also store for months.