Summer squashes mature for fresh eating in the summer. They tend to be easy to grow and are often prolific.
Summer squash is harvested when it is tender and comparatively small, making it ideal for easy summer baking, sauteing, and grilling.
Detailed Care Instructions
CULTURE: A fertile, sandier, slightly acidic soil type is preferred. If you are planting in rows, remove the covers when you see flowers. If the fruits don't look especially helathy, it could indicate that they aren't being pollinated enough.
PLANT SPACING: Space plants 18-24" apart in rows 6' apart. Wider spacing may allow for easier harvesting.
DISEASES: Common diseases for squash plants can include powdery mildew, downy mildew, bacterial wilt, and phytophthora. It can help to ensure adequate soil drainage, good air flow, insect pest control, and crop rotation.
INSECT PESTS: Cucumber beetles, squash bugs, and vine borers are all common pests for cucurbits. Protect young plants with floating row cover. Squash bug eggs found on the undersides of leaves may be crushed by hand. For vine borers, cut out of vines and hill soil over the wound. Keep field borders mowed and remove plant refuse in the fall; spring plow to bury pupae. Insecticides (specifically pyrethrin sprays) may offer some control.
HARVEST OF FRUIT: For some varieties, it is common for the first fruits to be malformed, wither, or blacken, which indicates poor pollination and is usually remedied as more male flowers appear. Harvest regularly, 2-3 times a week, once plants begin to produce. Cut or gently twist off fruits when they have reached the desired size. For patty pan and round squash, this is around 2-3" in diameter. Handle with care to avoid scratching fruits.
HARVEST OF BLOSSOMS: Harvest male blossoms (with thin stems) or female blossoms (with thick stems and an immature fruit at the base of the flower) in mid to late morning, when blossoms are fully open. Clip flowers 1-2" below flower base. If a squash fruit crop is also desired from the same planting, only harvest male flowers, leaving a few to pollinate the female flowers.
STORAGE: Keep fruit refrigerated, where it can be stored for up to 2 weeks. Use as soon as possible for best quality.
Adapted from Johnny's Selected Seeds.