Squashes generally refer to four species of the genus Cucurbita native to Mexico and Central America. These species include C. maxima (hubbard squash, buttercup squash, some varieties of prize pumpkins, such as big max), C. mixta (cushaw squash), C. moschata (butternut squash), and C. pepo (most pumpkins, acorn squash, summer squash, courgette).
|Sowing Time (Under Glass)|
|Sowing Time (Outdoors)|
Choose a sunny spot with 90cm (35in) of space in every direction. They will also grow in containers or one or two plants per growbag if required.
Squash are heavy feeders and will benefit from having plenty of compost dug into the soil prior to planting.
Squash are easily grown from seed and can be sown in their final position in late May/early June or alternatively sow indoors from mid-April. Sow two or three seeds 2.5 (1in) deep and cover with cloches if outdoors. Leave cover in place for as long as possible before thinning the seedlings to leave the strongest one.
If you don't have space to grow squash indoors; seedlings can be bought from garden centres and are ready to plant outdoors as soon as the risk of frost has passed. Ensure plants are hardened off for 2 weeks before planting out by placing them outside during the day and keeping them indoors/under cover at night. Dig a hole slightly larger than the container the seedling is in, tip it out and plant into the hole slightly lower than its original compost level. Mound soil/compost around the stem to support it. Water thoroughly to settle the roots.
Keep plants well watered especially once fruit begin to form. A layer of compost or polythene around the plants will help to suppress weeds and retain moisture. Provide a high potassium liquid fertiliser once or twice a fortnight. Squash require pollination for fruit to form successfully.
- Main article: Hand pollination of Cucurbits
Insect pollination can be poor, in which case take a male flower, fold back the petals to reveal the pollen on the stamen, and insert it into the female flower. Females can be differentiated from the males as they have a tiny unfertilised fruit behind the flower head.
Regular picking will ensure a long cropping season.
- Full troubles list: Cucurbit troubles
Fusarium Damping off
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