Here is some planting information on summer squash.
Grow Oodles of Summer Squash
If Summer Squash weren't so productive and easy to grow, it would probably be considered more of a delicacy. In our kitchen, it's as highly regarded as Eggplant and Asparagus. That's because we pick our Summer Squash young, when the skin is soft, the flesh is tender and before the seeds have formed. It makes all the difference!
We adore all sizes, shapes and colors of Summer Squash. Commonly known as Zucchini or Courgette, Summer Squash belongs to the species Cucurbita pepo. This versatile, mild-flavored veggie easily unleashes the ingenious inner chef inside each of us. We can make it into whatever we want, savory or sweet, and take comfort in the fact that it is low in calories with beneficial folate, potassium and Vitamin A.
Planting Secrets for Summer Squash
You can start Summer Squash seeds indoors about a month before planting outdoors, but if you just wait until the soil warms up, you can direct-sow the seeds into the garden and the plants will quickly catch up. Summer Squash won't tolerate frost or cold temperatures, so wait until all danger of frost has passed. Here where we live in zone 4 I really want you to wait till June 1st, really to June 10th. Vine plants don't like cool nights so in June that has passed. If you wait later, then you don't get that first group of bugs. Really this works so give it a try.
Most Summer Squash varieties have a compact, bushy habit, but some are as sprawling as Pumpkins, so it's important to follow seed packet spacing directions. Typically, two or three seeds are planted in a group 4" to 5" apart. Groups should be spaced 3 feet apart. Covering newly planted seeds with floating row covers will speed germination, keep young plants cozy, and minimize damage from cucumber beetles, squash bugs and vine borers.
1. To ensure the highest quality fruit, make sure your plants receive plenty of water. In very hot weather, it's normal for the leaves to wilt. They'll revive when the sun goes down.
2. Make sure your plants don't run out of food by adding plenty of compost or rotted manure to the planting area along with a slow-release granular fertilizer. During the growing season, apply a liquid fertilizer once or twice a month.
3. Once your Summer Squash plants begin producing, harvest several times a week. The fruits can be picked when very small but are more typically harvested when 4" to 6" long or 3" to 5" in diameter.
4. Mulching around the plants with straw or shredded leaves will smother weeds and reduce moisture loss.
5. Summer Squash plants produce both male flowers and female flowers. The males appear first and have a long stem and no "bump" at the base. These can be picked and eaten (try them battered and deep fried!), but always leave a few male flowers for pollination.
Need Recipes for Your Harvest?
Summer Squash can be enjoyed raw in salads or in crudité platters with creamy herb dips. It can be coated with bread crumbs and parmesan cheese and roasted into tasty crisp coins, or cubed and combined with Eggplant, Red Onions, Sweet Potatoes, Fennel and Carrots and roasted with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper.
It is brilliant quickly sautéed or sliced ½" thick lengthwise and grilled (first slather with Italian salad dressing). Once grilled and pliable, it can be served as is or spread with tangy goat cheese and pesto and rolled up. Grilled Zucchini can also be used instead of pasta in lasagna, and dipped in batter for tempura extravaganzas.
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Till next time, this is Becky Litterer from Becky's Greenhouse, Dougherty, Iowa