How to Grow Squash in Your Backyard Garden

How to Grow Squash

Squash are one of the most productive plants you can grow in a backyard vegetable garden. "Summer squash," as they're commonly called, include a wide variety of shapes and colors that are all delicious additions to any meal. Just a few squash plants are usually enough for a family of four or five with leftovers to share with friends and family. Below we'll provide some helpful tips on picking the right variety of squash, how to fertilize them for optimal production, and caring for them as they grow.

Types of Squash to Grow in a Backyard Garden

Choosing a Squash Variety to Grow

Although the older yellow crookneck squash are probably the most common, there many different types of squash that you can grow in a backyard garden. In addition to the common crookneck squash, you'll can also grow "straightneck" squash which tend to be more uniformly shaped.

There are also many untraditional shapes of squash that you'll find while perusing the selection of your favorite online seed retailer. "Patty pan" or scallop squash are unique and tend to have a slightly firmer texture, making them a great option for roasting or grilling. You'll also find round squash and some slightly oblong varieties designed for cutting in half and grilling.

In addition to the wide variety of squash shapes, you'll also find them in quite a few colors. Most people think of squash as a yellow fruit. But there are varieties that produce light green fruit, dark green fruit, and some that have yellow and green coloration. Zucchini color options vary greatly with stripes and lots of appealing color patterns.

Preparing the Soil

While squash can be transplanted (planted from plants), we recommend planting the seeds in your raised bed or in-ground garden. Squash seeds usually germinate within a few days with adequate soil moisture and warmer spring soil temperatures.

If you're planting seeds in the ground, sprinkle Coop Gro along the intended row before planting the seeds. By the time the squash seeds germinate and start needing nutrients, the Coop Gro will be available to feed those squash plants.

If you're planting seeds in a raised bed or large container, sprinkle Coop Gro among the entire bed or container and lightly mix into the soil. Squash roots can grow 2' long or longer, so having fertility among the entire bed will greatly benefit your squash plants over the long term.

Squash Seedling in Garden

Planting Squash Seeds

Squash should be planted in the spring when the risk of frost has passed. When using Coop Gro, squash plants can get quite large. Don't try to plant too many squash seeds in a small space. We like to give each squash plant at least 2-3' of space, if not more. Poke a small 1" deep hole in your soil, place your squash seed into the hole, then lightly cover and pack down the soil with your hand.

Plant More Than You Need!

Squash plants can be susceptible to insect pests, especially as temperatures warm into the summer months. Squash vine borers are a persistent problem for many gardeners across the country, and they're tough to eliminate once they've started feeding on your squash plants.

As a result, we recommend planting twice as many plants as you think you'll need. This will ensure you have backup plants in case you lose a few to squash vine borers or other pests. If you're lucky and don't have any pest issues, you can always thin the squash plants later, giving each plant more room to roam.

Squash Plants Producing Abundantly

Be Prepared to Harvest!

Once squash plants start producing, they'll need to be harvested every couple days. If you're getting a significant amount of rainfall, a squash can go from perfect to too big in just a matter of hours. Once squash fruits get too big, their texture becomes spongy and undesirable.

Considering the frequency of harvesting, don't plant more than you're able to harvest. Many beginner gardeners plant too many squash and are quickly overwhelmed with the harvesting duties. You want enough plants to account for any pest or disease issues, but not so many that you're not able to harvest the squash at their ideal size.

As your squash plants grow, you'll want to continue feeding them every couple weeks with Coop Gro. Sprinkle a couple handfuls around the base of each squash plant and lightly mix into the soil. This will result in healthy, resilient plants that are able to withstand insect and disease pressure. It will also encourage the plant to continue producing fruits for you to enjoy!

Back to blog