When planting summer squash, it's best to sow the seeds directly in the garden or container. Summer squash transplants usually don't do well because they don't like it when their roots are disturbed. It's very difficult to transplant a seedling without disturbing the root system.
Summer squash should be planted no earlier than 3 weeks after the last expected frost date in your area. It's also best to wait until the soil temperature has warmed to about 65 degrees F. Since most varieties mature in 45-75 days, you can also plant summer squash throughout the summer months, up until about 10 weeks before the first expected hard frost. Some folks find it more productive to plant summer squash as a second season crop, after early spring plants like peas and lettuce have finished producing. This is also a good way to maximize a small garden space.
When planting summer squash in a traditional vegetable garden, make sure the soil is well tilled down to a depth of at least 8 inches. This will allow plenty of room for the roots to develop and will also help with drainage. Create hills or mounds about 12 inches across and 3-4 inches high. Space the mounds 30 inches apart if you are planting the more common bush varieties. Add some more room if you intend to grow vining varieties. Remember to choose a location that gets 6-8 hours of daily, direct sunlight for maximum yields. use your finger or the end of a hoe or trowel to create 2 holes near the center of the mounds. Each hole should be about 1 inch deep. Place a single seed in the bottom of each hole and cover with an inch of loose soil. After you have planted the seeds, water them in thoroughly. When the seedlings reach 2 inches tall, thin to one plant per mound, keeping the most promising seedling. Thinning is necessary to ensure that the plants aren't competing with each other for space, nutrients and water.
When planting summer squash in containers, there is no need to create a mound. Choose a bush variety of plant. Make sure that the container is at least 18 inches across and 12 inches deep. There should be holes in the bottom of the container for adequate drainage. Plant 2-3 seeds per container and thin to 1-2 plants when the seedlings reach 2 inches tall, depending on the size of your container. Make sure to use good potting soil and water the seeds in well after planting. Remember to keep your containers in a spot that gets 6-8 hours of daily direct sunlight.
Now that you've finished planting summer squash, it's time to think about watering and fertilizing your plants.
Click here to learn about watering and fertilizing summer squash plants
Click here for help diagnosing and curing common summer squash problems
Click here to learn about harvesting summer squash
Click here for some of our favorite summer squash recipes
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