Successful Summer Squash Growing

Zucchini, Straight Neck and Patti-pans. Tasty and versatile BUT…

at first, all the blossoms die without making Zucchini and THEN…

by the end of summer you have way too many the size of baseball bats.

Let’s see how to grow squash the correct way!


What Do You Want to Know About Summer Squash?

Choose the Right Squash Variety for Your Needs

Summer Squash comes in four common types types –  Zucchini, Yellow, Patty Pan and Round.

Zucchini can be dark green, light green or yellow. All are long and slender. 

Yellow Summer squash is slender with a swollen end. Straight neck and Crookneck are two popular varieties. 

Patty pans are UFO shaped and come in greens, yellow and white.

Round often have the word “ball” in name, such as Eight Ball, One Ball and Cue Ball.

Because viruses and mildews love summer squash, resistant varieties have been developed. The seed catalog will use the abbreviations CMV, PM, and ZYMV among others. 


Where should I plant my Squash?

  • in a well drained area
  • in soil with some organic material
  • in heavy clay, grow in mounds
  • avoid areas with too much nitrogen
  • have the ground prepared the fall before,
    if possible
  • full sun 

How Do I Prepare Raised Beds for Squash?

In many gardens, a raised bed for squash works well because the bed is drier and warmer in the spring. 

Ideally, the bed should have loose soil 12 inches deep. A minimum of 6 to 8 inches is required for squash.

Avoid filling the bed with only ordinary garden or top soil, because the surface will crust over
and the bed will dry out faster. 

Add potting mix, garden compost and a bit of sand.
Mix 1 part organic matter (peat moss, compost, etc.) to 1 part sand or perlite to 2 parts soil.

Summer squash prefer a deep watering to many light sprinkles.

Can I Grow Squash in Pots?


Select a variety listed as compact or for containers.

14 inch pots are a good choice.

Plant two seeds in this size pot and remove the weaker seedling.

Use potting soil.

Apply a time release fertilizer when the seeds sprout. Then a low nitrogen, high potassium fertilizer weekly according to the recommendations based on pot size. 

How About Growing in the Ground?

It’s best to prepare the ground in the fall, so you can plant as early as possible in the spring.

Year One – test the soil to find out what nutrients need to be added.

Add 4 to 5 inches or organic matter and till into 8 inches deep

Year Two – In the spring,

Plant seeds when the ground is warmed.  Consider using black plastic to raise the temperature.


How Do I Plant Summer Squash?

  • Plant as early as the ground can be worked or the soil is at least 75 degrees F or warmer.
  • Plant 1 deep, about 2 – 3 feet apart in a row. Plant the second row 3-5 feet away.
  • If planting two plants per hill allow 3-4 feet in the rows and second row 4 to 6 feet away.
  • Consider using a black plastic fabric to warm the soil, keep weed from growing and fool some insects.
  • Water the seeds in.

Why are my Blossoms Dropping Off?

The first blossoms of the season are only male, and its perfectly normal for males to fall off the vine. 

Males look like a flower on a straight stem.

Female flowers have a fat ball or fat tube between the flower and the stem.

If female flowers are dropping off, this means the blossom wasn’t pollinated. Lack of pollination could be very high or low temperatures, lack of bees due to to weather, low bee populations or insecticides. 

Getting the most Summer Squash

Provide 1-2 inches of water per  week. 

Fertilize with a 10-10-10, when the plants begins to spread. 2 to 3 tablespoons of fertilizer for each hill. Scatter the fertilizer evenly over a 2-foot by 2-foot area. Work it into the top 3 to 4 inches of soil.

If you have a short growing season, you can try transplanting. Squash is often very touchy about transplanting. A transplant will grow slower than a plant seeded in the garden.

Try planting a second crop of  squash three weeks after the first to stretch out the harvest.

Water at at the base of the plant rather than with a sprinkler that gets the leaves wet.

Consider a spun row cover to keep destructive insects out until the squash blossoms, then remove the cover for the bees. Or hand pollinate and keep covered all summer.

When Do I Harvest Summer Squash?

Usually 45 to 60 days after planting

Most varieties are picked at 2 inches or less in diameter and 6 to 8 inches long. Patty Pans  are harvested at 3 to 4 inches in diameter

You should be able to press your fingernail into the flesh. A hard rind means the plant is passed its prime.

Remove large fruit because they cause the plant to stop producing. 

If you take care of your plants, you can look forward to tons of summer squash.

A 100’ row of summer squash will yield around 80 pounds.