Squash & Zucchini

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Botanical name: Cucurbita

Plant type: Vegetable

USDA Hardiness Zones: Varies

Sun exposure: Full Sun

Soil type: Loamy

Squash is a seasonal vegetable. It is very susceptible to frost and heat damage, but with proper care it will produce a bumper crop with very few plants.

There are many varieties of summer squash to choose from, including zucchini. The main difference between winter and summer varieties is their harvest time; the longer growing period gives winter squash a tougher, inedible skin. Here are their various botanical names: Cucurbita pepo (Summer squash/Zucchini), C. maxima (True winter), C. pepo (Acorn, delicata, spaghetti) , C. moschata (butternut).
 

Planting

  • If you wish to start seeds indoors due to a short gardening season, sow 2 to 4 weeks before last spring frost in peat pots. However, we recommend direct-seeding for squash because they do not always transplant well. If you do transplant, be very gentle with the roots.
  • If you wish to get an early start, it may be better to warm the soil with black plastic mulch once the soil has been prepared in early spring.
  • The soil needs to be warm (at least 60º at a two-inch depth) so we plant summer squash after our spring crops of peas, lettuce, and spinach—about one week after the last spring frost to midsummer.
  • In fact, waiting to plant a few seeds in midsummer will help avoid problems from vine borers and other pests and diseases common earlier in the season.
  • The outside planting site needs to receive full sun; the soil should be moist and well-drained, but not soggy.
  • Squash plants are heavy feeders. Work compost and plenty of organic matter into the soil before planting for a rich soil base.
  • To germinate outside, use cloche or frame protection in cold climates for the first few weeks. 
  • Plant seeds about one-inch deep and 2 to 3 feet apart in a traditional garden bed.
  • Or, you could also plant as a “hill” of 3 or 4 seeds sown close together on a small mound; this is helpful in northern climates as the soil is warmer off the ground. Allow 5 to 6 feet between hills.

    Most summer squashes now come in bush varieties, which uses less space, but winter squash is a vine plant and needs more space. They will need to be thinned in early stages of development to about 8 to 12 inches apart.

Care

  • Mulch plants to protect shallow roots, discourage weeds, and retain moisture.
  • When the first blooms appear, apply a small amount of fertilizer as a side dress application.
  •  
  • For all type of squash, frequent and consistent watering is recommended. Water most diligently when fruits form and throughout their growth period.
  • Water deeply once a week, applying at least one inch of water. Do not water shallowly; the soil needs to be moist 4 inches down.
  • After harvest begins, fertilize occasionally for vigorous growth and lots of fruits.
  • If your fruits are misshapen, they might not have received enough water or fertilization.

Pests

  • If your zucchini blooms flowers but never bears actual zucchini, or it bears fruit that stops growing when it's very small, then it's a pollination issue. Most squashes have separate male and female flowers on the same plant. To produce fruit, pollen from male flowers must be physically transferred to the female flowers by bees. If you do not have enough bees, you can manually pollinate with a Q-tip—or, add nearby plants that attract bees!
  • Cucumber Beetle (link to pest page)
  • Squash Bug (link to pest page)
  • Squash Vine Borer (link to pest page)
  • Blossom End Rot: If the blossom ends of your squash turn black and rot, then your squash have blossom-end rot. This condition is caused by uneven soil moisture levels, often wide fluctuations between wet and dry soil. It can also be caused by calcium levels. To correct the problem, water deeply and apply a thick mulch over the soil surface to keep evaporation at a minimum.  Keep the soil evenly moist like a wrung out sponge, not wet and not completely dried out.
  • Stink Bug: If your squash looks distorted with dippled area, the stink bugs overwintered in your yard. You need to spray or dust with approved insecticides and hand pick in the morning. Clean up nearby weeds and garden debris at the end of the season to avoid this problem.
  • Aphids (link to pest page)

 

Harvest/Storage

  • Harvest summer squash when small and tender for best flavor. Most varieties average 60 days to maturity, and are ready as soon as a week after flowering.
  • Check plants everyday for new produce.
  • Cut the gourds off the vine rather than breaking them off.
  • Fresh summer squash can be stored in the refrigerator for up to ten days.
  • Harvest winter squash when rind is hard and deep in color, usually late September through October.
  • Winter squash can be stored in a cool, dark place until needed. It will last for most of the winter. If you have a cool bedroom, stashing them under the bed works well. They like a temperature of about 50 to 65 degrees F.
  • Freezing Summer squash: Wash it, cut off the ends, and slice or cube the squash. Blanch for three minutes, then immediately immerse in cold water and drain. Pack in freezer containers and freeze.
  • Freezing Winter squash: Cook as you normally would, then mash. Pack in freezer containers.
  • Pull up those vines and compost them after you've picked everything or after a frost has killed them. Then till the soil to stir up the insects a bit.

Recommended Varieties

  • ‘Goldbar’ (yellow summer)
  • ‘Cocozelle’ (zucchini) dark green, slender
  • ‘Butterbush’ (butternut)
  • ‘Cream of the Crop’ (acorn hybrid, prize winning)
     

Recipes

Wit & Wisdom

Squash flowers make a tasty treat when fried in a light batter.

Comments

I have my squash started and

By Loriw227 on March 17

I have my squash started and they are about 6 inches tall. They seem kinda spindly. How do I avoid them getting leggy and kinking over?

This happens with squash as

By georgewilson on March 19

This happens with squash as they get too warm inside and get leggy fast. Veggie like night temperatures between 60 and 65 degrees F. Day temperatures may run about 10 degrees higher. Is it possible to get them in the ground? Squash tend to work best when seeded outside; they'll germinate based on the temperature on their own.

Thank you for the info. I

By Lori227 on March 19

Thank you for the info.
I can't plant them right now, but I will move them at night to a "cooler room"
and see if that helps.

I think my butternut squash

By Jasmine Byrd

I think my butternut squash may have blossom end rot, one or 2 of the flowers have rotted and fallen off although there are still some good flowers, do I cut off the ones I notice to be affected by it or should I just let them fall on their own?

Based purely on your

By Almanac Staff

Based purely on your description, this does not sound like blossom end rot—which affects the lower ends of the squash (on the blossom end side) not the flower itself. It is possible that you have pollination issues? You can always self-pollinate between the male and female flowers to ensure pollination happens. See this page for more detail.

Ive heard that yellow

By gardner_jones

Ive heard that yellow zucchinis grow better/easier than green varieties. Is that true? Do yellow zucchinis even exist?

All are summer squash. The

By Almanac Staff

All are summer squash. The yellow squash that looks similar to the green zucchini is called straightneck squash. They're both quick-growing. I think my yellow summer squash variety was 50 to 60 days to maturity and the zucchini was 50 to 60 days, but it completely depends on your seed variety so just check the back of the seed packet or look at the seed retailers online to get a sense of the "days to maturity."

My yellow squash were

By Carolyn Lundie

My yellow squash were producing normal, smooth skin. Now their skin is very bumpy. What causes this?

What type of squash do you

By Almanac Staff

What type of squash do you have? Some varieties, such as Yellow Crookneck Squash, are supposed to get bumpy.

I have 2 zucchini plants and

By Curious

I have 2 zucchini plants and both have female flowers bloom before male flowers. Can I use delicata squash's male flower to pollinate zucchini flowers?

You can self-polinate squash

By Almanac Staff

You can self-polinate squash with a Q-tip or by simply stripping the male flower and bringing the pollen-covered stamen over to the female. However, you should use the same species if you want the same edible.

Is it advisable to cut the

By Linda Noble Hattenburg

Is it advisable to cut the leaves off for the sguash to get mor sun

No, not if you're growing the

By Almanac Staff

No, not if you're growing the plants for squash. The leaves are the part of the plant that captures the sun for growth.  They also protect the fruit from sun scald.

My zucchini and yellow squash

By Wayne Ames

My zucchini and yellow squash were producing like crazy and now seem to have stopped completely. Are they all done for the year? I am in South East AZ and we have been getting a lot of rain lately due to monsoon season. We are in the mid 80's to low 100 degrees daily. We typically don't get freezing until the end of August. Should I remove the dormant plants and plant a new crop? Will I have enough time for them to produce? This is my first year gardening so I am learning as I go.

If the plants look healthy

By Almanac Staff

If the plants look healthy leave them in the ground. They may still produce this season. Do they have flowers? Maybe the female flowers are not getting pollinated. If that is the case use a small brush to move pollen to the female flower.

I have different varieties of

By jdtexas

I have different varieties of squash growing. I kept my summer separated from my winter. I check them daily ad they are growing some vey nice produce. We've been eating squash a lot lately.
I too once noticed the powdery mildew growing on my zucchini. I try not to use any herbicides or chemicals because we have free range poultry on the farm. One tip that I read about and used is to use milk. Get a spray bottle and mix milk with water in the ratio of 1 part milk to nine parts water. Spray the leaves of your plants until the liquid begins to drip once or twice from the leaves. I don't have a particular time to say to do this but I do it in early morning once a week and it seems to have saved my squash from an inevitable fate. It worked. The source also said to use on cucumbers and tomatoes or anything else that may be susceptible to powdery mildew. Hope you have the same success as I did.

I planted a ton of yellow &

By Alaina

I planted a ton of yellow & green squash out back this year, my first year ever growing. I have harvested about 8 yellow squash so far- but NO Zucchini. Not one. It seems an irritating group of rodents (they've eaten too much to be only one) have moved in on my zucc's and eat all my femal blossoms long before they can bloom. VERY Depressing. However, my question is; if a female flower blossom is pollinated, then eaten off the tiny yellow (or green) squash, will the fruit still grow to maturity? Or does the flower need to stay put for awhile until the squash is well on its way? :( The Voles are starting to eat my baby yellows now as they have completely consumed my zuccs!)
Is there ANY thing I can spray (organically) around my zucc's to save at least ONE zucc from any of my 30 zucc plants!? Thank you.

The tiny fruit at the base of

By Almanac Staff

The tiny fruit at the base of the female blossom is what grows into the big fruit. If it's eaten after polliination, then the fruit will not mature. In terms of zucchini protection, it really depends on the pest. We doubt the issue is voles as they are usually springtime pests. If you are sure you have a rodent issue (versus beetles or slugs or other pest), it could be rabbits. See ways to deter rabbits here: http://www.almanac.com/content/rabbits  

My zucchini plants were lush

By Donna lepley

My zucchini plants were lush and green, producing beautiful fruit but within two days they started showing a grayish appearance and wilting, the fruit has begun to wither. Any idea what can be the cause?

The greyish appearance

By Almanac Staff

The greyish appearance suggests downy mildrew or another fungus. The best ways to combat: spray with a fungicide (as your garden center), improve air circulation, use wider spacing when planting, avoid shade, do not water leaves with overhead sprinkling or get leaves wet (water at soil leve), and use resistant cultivars.

I have lots of flowers on my

By Deb Dac

I have lots of flowers on my squash but all are male?????? Why no female

Normally, the male flowers on

By Almanac Staff

Normally, the male flowers on squash show up first, followed by the females in about 7 to 10 days, though it seems to take longer if it's been rainy.

Why did my 4 in. long

By Janet Picard

Why did my 4 in. long zucchini start turning yellow? I seem to be having several issues with my zucchini plants this year and was very disappointed when my one and only zucchini started turning yellow. Pollination may be another problem and I know to use a Q-tip, but how exactly do I do this?

Your diagnosis seems correct.

By Almanac Staff

Your diagnosis seems correct. The flowers were not fertilized because of the lack of bee activity. This can be influenced by rain and weather conditions. To aide pollination. With a Q-tip, take off the pollen from the stamen of the male flower and brush it onto the female flower's stigma in the center. You could also pluck a male flower (the one without the bulb or ovary at its base), strip off the petals, and use its pollen-covered stamen as a brush. Do this all in the morning when both male and female flowers are open. Next year, get some bee-loving flowers for natural pollination!

I have the same problem as

By Nikki Nickell

I have the same problem as Anonymous...ants. Since I have not seen any bees around,I figure maybe the ants will do the pollination. Awaiting your recomendation before I remove them. I have pets and don't want to use chemical [a pom who loves to eat zucchini blossoms and zucchini!]

Hi, Nikki, You'll need bees

By Almanac Staff

Hi, Nikki, You'll need bees to pollinate. Ants don't pollinate, though they may end up dragging some pollen around while they are there. When you see ants, that usually means they are cleaning the soil and going after aphids--real pests! So make sure you check under the leaves for aphids--and blast the aphids with a diluted soap spray early in the morning.

What type of fertilizer and

By Kit Kat

What type of fertilizer and mulch do you recommend? Also, in years past I've had success with hand fertilizing my plants, but this year the flowers on my crookneck fruit don't seem to be opening. The fruit forms, but then never blosoms, so consequently dies. What can I do? Thanks!

When blooms don't open, they

By Almanac Staff

When blooms don't open, they usually means there is lack of pollination (bees). Also, note that the male flowers will fall off first until the female flowers arrive.

I am harvesting my yellow

By hermbchsue

I am harvesting my yellow summer squash and it begins to sweat (beads of water) as soon as I sit it on the counter. Is that normal?

Yes, squash can "sweat"--as

By Almanac Staff

Yes, squash can "sweat"--as can other vegetables! It's nothing to be worried about. This usually happens when it's exposed to alternating cold and warm temperatures which simply causes moisture to accumulate no the surface. If you salt your squash, you'll also see it "sweat" as the salt draws moisture from the inside.
If you are eating your squash soon, don't sweat it. If you want to store it to keep longer, however, make sure your storage area is cool and prevents temperature variation to avoid decay; stored veggies also need good air circulation/ventilation.

This is my first time

By Belita

This is my first time planting. I can see the squash growing big. When does to turn yellow

As you referred to a winter

By Almanac Staff

As you referred to a winter squash such as butternut? This plant turns yellow in the fall. In general, harvest winter squash when the rinds are tough enough to resist being punctured with a fingernail. Be patient and don't harvest too early or it won't keep in storage as well.

What does it mean when the

By cindy phan

What does it mean when the flowers fall off of my yellow squash plants and no squash grows. I had this problem last year but thought it was the weed killer in the soil. I added new soil but Im afraid its still there. The whole plant died last time but some produced squash. This time I have tons of plants and flowers but no squash yet.

how can you tell the

By jean corcoran

how can you tell the diference between a male and female zucchini?

Jean, this question is asked

By Almanac Staff

Jean, this question is asked (and answered on this page). In general, all of the early flowers are males. Female flowers often develop many days later once the climate is ready for them. The females can be identified by the miniature fruit at the flower base.

It's normal for male blossoms

By Almanac Staff

It's normal for male blossoms to drop, especially early in the season. If you see female blossoms dropping, it's because they're not being pollinated; this due to weather extremes or lack of bee population. If it's temperatures, fruits will appear when temperatures moderate. If it's a pollinator issues, make sure you're not using toxic chemicals to spray your plants as they kill the bees; you can try to pollinate the plants yourself with a Q-tip.

Flower

By Anonymous

I was looking at the flower on my squash and it tore. Does that mean the squash wont grow?

The flower naturally plucks

By Anonymous

The flower naturally plucks right off when the that one flower is spent. The female flowers should be easily plucked off when the fruit set and is growing. Without removing the flower as the fruit grows will lead to rot before it fully grows

Squash is turning purple

By Anonymous

I harvested yellow squash in the summer. Now the plant is producing purple fruit in the fall. Is it edible

purple fruit

By Almanac Staff

Not being able to see the fruit, we can not identify it, and therefore would advise not eating it. We haven't heard of yellow squash turning purple later in the season (although we suppose it is possible if it had a cultural or pest/disease problem). It might be that you have an heirloom type that exhibits this trait, although a particular cultivar doesn't come to mind at the moment. Could it be possible that the original plant has died back and a volunteer is now growing in its place? It could be an edible vegetable, such as eggplant, but it may also be an inedible weed. To be safe--don't eat it! You might want to bring a sample to your local Cooperative Extension (if in the USA) for identification. To find your Extension, go to:
http://www.almanac.com/content/cooperative-extension-services

Hope this helps!

White zucchini

By Anonymous

I thought I planted a regular zucchini, but it turns out to be white, and not light green like what I've been reign about, but white. I was going to shred it up into some bread, but the outer skin is kind of tough papery. Is this actually still a zucchini or some other kind of vegetable.

It is probably a zucchini.

By Almanac Staff

It is probably a zucchini. Sometimes a plant grows a mutation and the color and texture can be different. See link below.
www.garden.org/boards/index.php?q=view&id=19514&board=20&top=19514

weird unknown plant in garden

By Anonymous

These are growing on a vine that looks like a zucchini plant. At first the fruit looked like a big fat round cucumber, then they turned orange. I have picture but not sure a can post them here.
Does anyone know what these are?

There are SO many types of

By Almanac Staff

There are SO many types of squash. For example, the "banana squash" is orange and oblong. Also, you'll find that squash will cross-pollinate with other nearby squash varieties, creating some interesting results! However, cucumbers belong to different species and will not cross with each other or squash. Here's a web site with photo IDs of different squash varieties. Hope this helps!
http://www.thenibble.com/reviews/main/vegetables/squash-glossary3.asp

I have squash idk what kind

By Anonymous

Is big and white and I keep on hearing I should harvest when small help plz

We're not sure what variety

By Almanac Staff

We're not sure what variety you have, but most squash varieties taste best when small and tender. The larger squash may be a bit bitter, but pick it and see how it tastes for yourself!

pumpkin suash also known as calbasa

By Anonymous

I planted the seeds from the squash I ate and now have flowers and vins growing allover.I now have huge green long squash growing want to know if edible. We ate the flowers. DGree12@comcast.netplease e-mail

If you saved your seeds to

By Almanac Staff

If you saved your seeds to replant and new squash grew, you can eat it! Congrats!

Zucchini relish

By Anonymous

My local newspaper printed a recipe for zucchini relish in 2009. The recipe was from Sonoma-Williams company book of recipes.

I make it every year..Better than pickle relish. Delicious on hot dogs, burgers, deviled eggs, tuna and chicken salad. Also top cream cheese on basil/tomato wheat thins..delicious for appetizer or snack.

Squash bacterial wilt

By Anonymous

Can I eat the squash from plants that have bacterial wilt

You need to remove or destroy

By Almanac Staff

You need to remove or destroy the infected vines, but I suppose if you had fruit that formed before the virus (which kills the plant), then you could pick it off, wash, and eat it.

squash

By Anonymous

We have tried both zuccini and summer squash but one produced only male flowers and one only female.Have seen bees on the blossoms many times.

Only flowers, no squash

By Anonymous

My plants look healthy and are producing flowers like crazy, but no squash. What can I do?

Sounds like a pollination

By Almanac Staff

Sounds like a pollination issue. Do you have a lot of bees in your garden? If not, you can try planting some flowers that will attract more or you can physically pollinate your plants with a Q-tip.

In general, all of the early

By Almanac Staff

In general, all of the early flowers are males. Female flowers often develop many days later once the climate is ready for them. The females can be identified by the miniature fruit at the flower base. Both females and males will need to be blooming for pollination and keep your fingers crossed that the pollinators (bees) aren't deterred by fluky weather as timing is important; otherwise, you can hand pollinate.

Ants

By Anonymous

I have a ton of ants on my squash plant. They don't seem to be doing any damage yet but I am concerned they are going to hurt the plant. Should I leave them or get rid of them?

Ants are generally harmless,

By Almanac Staff

Ants are generally harmless, but they are often a sign that your plant has other sucking insects that are NOT harmless. We suggest spraying in the early morning with an insecticidal soap.

Zucchini flowers

By Anonymous

How do you get large zucchini flowers to grow?

Are you interested in large

By Almanac Staff

Are you interested in large flowers because you wish to cook them? If so, perhaps select a variety known for large blossoms such as "Butter Blossom."

Do you know where I can get

By Anonymous

Do you know where I can get butter blossom seeds?

We apologize. ‘Butter

By Almanac Staff

We apologize. ‘Butter Blossom’ is mentioned at
http://urbanext.illinois.edu/veggies/ssquash.cfm
But we couldn’t find a source for ‘Butter Blossom’ seeds.
Costata Romanesca is also great for blossoms and you can find seeds at
http://www.johnnyseeds.com/p-7655-costata-romanesco.aspx

Thank you very much!

By Anonymous

Thank you very much!

Do you pick the yellow zuccini flowers off or leave them for the

By Anonymous

Pick the zuccini flower off or leave it on?

We recommend leaving them

By Almanac Staff

If you wish to cook the blossoms, harvest only the male blossoms, but leave some on the vine for pollination. (The male blossoms have a thin stem; the female blossoms have a thick stem with a bulb at the base which develops into the squash.)

Spaghetti Squash

By Anonymous

How do you know when to harvest
spaghetti squash? Mine are turning yellow and are very hard. The stems are very tough and green.

Harvesting Squash

By Almanac Staff

A good indicator of when to harvest your squash is when the color turns a nice, golden yellow. Eat them when they're small; they're more tender.

SQUASH

By Anonymous

I planted three squash plants they have nice vines lots of blooms, but the squash only get about 2 inches long and stay that size. what do i need to do?

Squash

By Almanac Staff

The most common reason for this problem is lack of pollination. There are female and male flowers. Sometimes the females bloom before any male flowers have bloomed and so the female flowers do not get pollinated. Usually, if you wait, you'll find that the males start blooming and you're getting TONS of squash! If not, there's a lack of pollinators in your garden and you can do it yourself with a Q-tip.

I am having a similar issue

By Berg

I am having a similar issue with lack of pollinators. You mention that if there is a lack of pollinators, to hand pollinate. However, that assumes there are male flowers, and I do not have any on my crooked yellow squash (only females). I had one on my zuchinni, and used that to hand pollinate my crooked yellow squash (I used my finger). I have several questions- is variety cross pollination effective, and what do I do if I don't get anymore males? Should I cut off the females so they aren't taking resources from the plant? Is using my finger effective- or should I not consider them pollinated? Guess I will have to wait and see. The one male flower from zuchinni plant fell off last night in a storm, I think I will try and reuse pollen from inside to continue in variety cross pollination.

It sounds like they're not

By Anonymous

It sounds like they're not getting pollinated. You could try hand pollinating them. Use a q-tip to transfer some pollen from a male flower to a female. The male flower will have narrow stems and pollen-bearing stamens in the flower, and the female flower has a fattened stem and a nubby-looking pistil in the center.

squash

By Anonymous

the leaves on my squash plants are so big the are blocking the sun from getting to the plants beside them.. is it safe to break some of the bigger, overlaping leaves or will it kill my plants?

Squash leaves

By Almanac Staff

Breaking some of the leaves may cause root damage to the plant. We don't recommend doing this.

However, you could use small garden posts to help reposition the leaves away from the other plants. No damage done!

Thank you for your interest in the Old Farmer's Almanac and our Web site.

Do the plants need sunlight

By Berg

Do the plants need sunlight to grow? I assume not as much, as the plant leaves are so huge and the plants grow so low, that most sun is blocked. My small raised bed is already FULL and all the leaves are overlapping. IS this concern for great conditions for mildew growth. Thanks- first time gardener, and the soil is organic and rich with all kinds of manure and nutrients.

Sorry- I mean- veggies. DO

By Berg

Sorry- I mean- veggies. DO they veggies need direct sunlight in order to grow, or just the leaves of the plant.

Butternut squash

By Anonymous

How can I tell when butternut squash is ready for harvest?

When ripe, the rind of

By Almanac Staff

When ripe, the rind of butternut squash will change color from light beige to deep tan or what some people call a deep flesh color. Then the skin will be hardened. Be sure to harvest before frost. When you harvest, use pruning shears and cut 1/2 inch above the fruit. Do not break off the stem. Happy harvest!

Straight neck yellow squash dying

By Anonymous

I harvested my first squash and a few hours later about a quarter of the plant is wilting and looks to be dying. What could cause this? I tried to be as careful as possible when harvesting with shears. Could I have cut part of the main stem by accident?

If your plant is wilting, the

By Almanac Staff

If your plant is wilting, the common reason is the squash vine borer. Slit open a stem lengthwise and look inside for grubs. If a plant wilts but there is no evidence of borers, it may be bacterial wilt infection or root feeding by larval cucumber beetles. See our pest library for more information: www.almanac.com/topics/gardening/pests-and-problems

After reviewing the pests

By Anonymous

After reviewing the pests section, the brown balls look like the eggs of the squash bug. Any organic solutions? If not, is it OK to put Sevin on the flowers too or just the leaves?

Good sleuthing. Yes, small,

By Almanac Staff

Good sleuthing. Yes, small, reddish-brownish eggs on the underside of leaves in evenly spaced groups indicate squash bugs. Frankly, this is the most loathsome of pests and there is not a lot you can do once your plants are attacked. Control in organic gardening is done before seeds are even planted by removing overwintering sites with post-harvest tillage, removing and even burning all vines and debris, cover cropping, rotating crops, using tightly secured row covers until flowering starts, planting resistant types (e.g, 'Butternut'), interplanting buckwheat to attract a predator fly, companion planting with bug-repellant flowers (e.g., marigolds, nasturiums), and planting nearby "trap" crops of plants that squash bugs prefer (e.g., Hubbard). If you catch the pest early --on just a few vines--hand pick the pests and crush the eggs daily. Some organic gardeners say using diatomaceous earth (DE) slows them down. Others say to spray with Neem oil, a natural pesticide; spray on all leaf and stem surfaces. One expert gardener recommends Bayer Advanced Fruit & Vegetable Insect Control. Ask your local garden center about these products and follow directions very carefully. One of our readers says to put the squash bugs in a blender, add some water, wait a day, and spray THAT on the pests and it works. Warning: they are very smelly!
Now, Sevin is a chemical. I believe it's for the base of the plant, below the flowers, but follow the directions very carefully. Note that Sevin is extremely toxic to honeybees (our dear pollinators). Many farmers use pesticides and will tell you timing is critical. Application must happen early during maximum egg hatch. Otherwise, it may be back to those preventative controls.

Squash pollination

By Anonymous

How do you tell the difference between male and female flowers?

Great question. Once you

By Almanac Staff

Great question. Once you know, it's easy to tell the difference. Female flowers look as if they have a miniature fruit right under the petals. Male flowers have a slender stalk below the petals and that's it. It's normal for the male flowers to fall off, especially at the beginning when there may not be females yet. If the females start to fall off, then there may be a pollination issue.

Yellow squash

By Anonymous

I picked my first squash May 1, now it looks like the plants are starting to die. Is this normal? How many weeks should you get squash from the plant?

It's hard to say why they are

By Almanac Staff

It's hard to say why they are dying. Do you have any frass? It's possible that it's the squash vine borer pest, especially if the soil's been too wet. Take a knife and slit the stem lengthwise and look for those grubs. If they're there, you need to quickly pull those plants as it is too late for treatment. In the future, row covers may help.

DYING SQUASH

By Anonymous

My squash plants are producing quite a bit but the squash are beginning to die off after a short growth, Is this a pollenation issue?

squash problems

By Almanac Staff

If the squash fruit gets an inch or two long and then dies, it is probably related to pollination. Female and male flowers need to blossom at the same time. So, it may just be a question of waiting until both are blossoming. Tips: To attract bees, avoid spraying pesticides as well as covering the squash during morning pollination. Avoid overhead sprinklers. If the weather's been too rainy or overly hot, you may also need to wait for conditions improve. Finally, you can always attract more bees with nearby plants (example: plant bee balm).

What time of plants

By Anonymous

I have plants where I just moved to and I was told they are squash. I for some reason dont think so I thought all squash had yellow blooms? These have black almost really dark purpleish blooms and the other has like a dark pink with purple in the middle on the bloom what kind of plants are these could anyone tell me I have pictures on my phone but no way to post them on here!

Eggplant?

By Almanac Staff

Hmmm... Hard to say without a picture, but eggplants have deep purple blooms. You could always bring a sample to your local garden center.

Additional pests, pollinating, flowers, etc.

By Jim R.

PESTS - In the south (Texas), I've run into problems with cabbage loopers and melonworms. I had to spray Bt (an approved organic solution) to get them to go away.

POLLINATION - It's possible to pollinate the flowers without bees. Basically, you carefully open the flowers (if they haven't already), remove the "dusty" component (male?), and rub it against the other one.

FLOWERS - The flowers are great to eat straight from the plant. The fruits (veggies) also! In fact, I've had to do that to keep them from the squirrels, who have done damage to the nearby stems, being clumsy in their gnawing.

Zucchini

By shepherdess1976

One pest you left out is the squash vine borer, which has killed many plants I have in Indiana. If you plant radish seed with it and start them later in the season, you have a better chance of live plants. I feed the extra large ones to my sheep.

Thanks

By Almanac Staff

We've added squash vine borer to the list. A very serious pest!

Squash plants

By Sammakate

If you shouldn't use hay or straw, what can you use for mulch ? And also, I have a problem with ants eating my plants, I have tried everything but can't get rid of them.. Thanks

ants in squash

By Anonymous

My cousin suggested I try cornmeal for ants that were bothering my pepper plants.

squash plants

By Anonymous

thanks, but what about squash vine borers ? They have killed my squash plants 2 years in a row !!

Cantaloupe

By Teddy

Not only do cantaloupe need a pollinator but several other things can prevent the flowers from forming fruit: temperature and watering methods being at the top of the list. Cantaloupes prefer being watered at ground level and the temps near to be at a steady 85-95 every day for a couple weeks will signal the plant to produce a viable blossum. Since most of you are writing your questions at the beinning of July, depending on where y'all live, the temperatures might not have reached the prime target for viable blossum development. The pollinators can tell by the aroma of the blossoms if the blossums are viable or "ready." Pollinators tend to have a keen sense of weather prediction and "knowing" when to pollinate certain plants. Bees especially will not waste their time with nectar that is not ready. ;)

I bet y'all have fruit by now. Blessings!!!!

squash

By Cowell

I had no luck with my squash, it keeps blooming but no fruit. Why is that pls help.

Hi Cowell, Have you seen any

By Almanac Staff

Hi Cowell, Have you seen any bees buzzing around the garden? Bees are necessary because squash plants need to be pollinated in order to produce fruits. If there are no bees, you can manually pollinate the plants. Try putting the pollen on a q-tip and transferring it from male to female flowers. That should do the trick. Good luck!

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