Summer squash also known as vegetable or Italian marrow is a tender, warm-season vegetable. Vegetables classed as Summer squash are all from the same species, Cucurbita pepo. The four main types are straight neck, crook neck, patty pan and zucchini with the colors being mostly restricted to yellow, green or whitish.
The fruit of summer squash are tender and thin skinned with a shelf life of no more than a couple of weeks.
Black Beauty Zucchini Squash.
Summer squash are harvested when still in their immature stage before they fully ripen and the rind becomes too hard.
Golden Zucchini Squash.
Summer squash grows on bush-type plants that do not spread like the plants of winter squash and pumpkin.
Squashes are warm-season plants that do not do well until soil temperatures are above 60 F. Black plastic can be used to warm the soil in early spring to lengthen the growing season. Summer squash needs full sun , at least 8-10 hours of direct sunlight daily.
Well-drained garden soil with lots of compost or well rotted manure with pH of 6.0 to 7.2 will produces excellent yields of summer squash.
Direct sow or Seedling transplants
Plant seed directly in the garden after the danger of frost has passed and the soil has warmed above 62 degrees F in the spring.
Sow two to three seeds, 24 inches apart or three to four seeds in hills 48 inches apart. Cover 1 inch deep. When the plants are 2 to 3 inches high, thin to one or two plants per hill.
Wait until at least 2-3 weeks after the last average 32 F (0 C) freeze in your area and not before soil temperature are consistently 70 F (21 C) or above before transplanting seedlings.
The most important aspects of caring for summer squash are;
Transplant or thin summer squash seedlings in hills to 2-3 strongest seedlings. Transplant or thin summer squash seedlings in rows to 3 feet (90 cm) apart in rows 3-5 feet (90-150 cm) apart.
Squash plants are shallow rooted and require ample soil moisture at all stages of growth. Add mulch at time of transplanting to retain moisture and eliminate weeds.
2 weeks before sowing or transplanting apply 3-4 quarts per 100 sq feet (3.3-4.4 liters per 9.3 square meters) of All-Purpose 5-5-5 Organic Fertilizer. Use the same rate for side dressing just as the fruit begin to set.
When transplanting use liquid starter fertilizer.
Avoid planting in same area within 3-4 years as any of the following family members, melons, winter and summer squash, cucumbers, watermelon musk melon, pumpkin and gourd.
Cucumber beetles, squash vine borers, pickleworm.
Powdery and downy mildews, blossom blight, bacterial wilt.
Summer squash are generally ready for harvest in about 50 to 65 days. They grows rapidly and are usually ready to pick within 2-4 days after flowering.
Summer squash just like most other fruiting plants produce better and over a longer season if the young fruit is kept continuously picked and not left to mature.
Because the fruit is immature when harvested, it bruises easily. Handle with care and use immediately after picking.
Summer squash will store short term when cooled to around 40 - 50 degrees F, kept moist with 90 percent relative humidity. 5 to 14 days.
Can be made into pickles or relishes for longer tern storage, freezing is possible but with limited success.