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Growing Squash - Vertical Gardening

Vertical gardens.

Vertical gardens.

Many gardeners don’t plant varieties of squash (along with cantaloupe and watermelon) as much as they’d like to, simply because of space considerations.   Over the years innovative gardeners have developed their own systems around this garden problem by growing squash vertically.  Vertical gardening is certainly nothing new but certainly worth a try if your space for gardening is limited.  Some examples of growing squash by this methods are:

  • Trellises
  • Cages
  • A-Frames
  • Tee Pee Frames
  • Electrical Conduit Supports
  • PVC Pipe
  • Growing Squash On A Fence

Things To Know Before Starting To Grow Squash In A Vertical Garden!

  • Selection of the correct type of squash to plant is key to your success in vertical planting of squash plants.  There is just one simple rule:  Don’t choose seeds or plants that are “bush” because they don’t climb.
  • Vertical gardening of squash often requires that as the squash ripens and grows that you may have to get creative with making support hammocks or slings to keep the squash fruit from slipping or getting too heavy for the vine.
  • Be sure to carefully and deliberately train the vines to go in the direction you desire a small amount each day.
  • You’ll get more squash and larger squash if you trim your smaller squash vines.

Varieties Of Squash That Adapt Well To Vertical Gardening!

Winter Squash:  -Acorn  -Bon Bon Buttercup  -Butternut  -Hubbard

Summer Squash:  -Crook Neck  -Patty Pan (Flying Saucer)

More Things To Know About Growing Squash

Butternut SquashBotanical Name:  Cucurbita, various species.

Origin:  Tropical America, about 1490.

Types:  Squash is of three types, summer, fall and winter.  The summer or bush type will mature in 60-70 days and should be used before it reaches maturity and while the skin is still soft.  the fall type matures more quickly and does not store as well as the winter type, which it otherwise resembles.  The winter type will take 90-130 days and should be well-matured before harvesting.

Soil:  Squash likes a fairly light soil, containing plenty of organic matter.  Work the soil to a depth of 6-8 inches and spade in a liberal quantity of well-rotted manure, as the squash plants are heavy feeders, regardless of variety.   

Spaghetti SquashSowing:  For summer varieties of squash, it is best to make at least two plantings for a continuous supply.  For fall and winter squashes, one planting is usually enough.  Squash may be started indoors in small containers about 3-4 weeks before the last frost if you want a head start on growing squash.   However, be careful to not disturb the soil about the roots when transplanting.  If planting directly into the soil by seed after the last front, plant six seeds to each hill, about two inches apart, covering with one inch of firmly packed soil.  Seed should germinate in about 10-12 days.  When the plants are at least three inches high, thin out to the three best plants.  Don’t leave more because the size and quality of the squash will be inferior if crowded.  Always remember that squash should be planted in full sun, but “full sun” does not mean that squash shouldn’t have at least some shade.

Gem SquashMoisture:  Squash requires a continuous but not a heavey supply of moisture to insure steady growth and maximum production of the fruit.  If you live in an arid or semi-arid climate, try micro-irrigation systems if you are serious about your squash.  Water upon planting and if there is no rain, be sure to water every two to three days until germination.

Weeding:  The main thing to remember about growing squash is that they have shallow roots and should not be disturbed.  When weeding, avoid distrubing roots of the squash plants, cut large weeds growing close to them rather than pull them out.  Adding a layer of mulch or compost, will aid in keeping the weeds minimized, keep moisture in, and help feed the plant.

 Fertilizer:  Fertilizer should not be necessary if you enhanced the soil prior to seeding.  If you failed to do so, apply a modest amount of fertilizer (liquid diluted with water) about 1/2 foot around the actual plants in a ring and cover with about an inch of soil.

Yellow Crook-Neck SquashHarvesting:  Summer squash may be harvested any time before the fruit’s skn hardns.  They need to be used immediately or kept in a cool place to preent evaporation.  Remember, if the squash is allowed to fully ripen, the vines will stop growing.  Fall and winter squash varieties are mature when the stems turn to a light greenish yellow.  They may be then cut and exposed to the sun for another two weeks until the stem turns grayish and shrivels.  Do not pull the squash from the vine, cut it.  Winter squash should remain in the sun two weeks after harvesting as evaporation reduces the high water content, making the squash more edible and in better condition should you wish to store it.

Storing:  Squash may be stored but unlike other vegetables and fruits, it must have a dry atmosphere.  Handle each squash so carefully that the skin is not broken or bruised in any way.  Optimum storing temperature should be between 45-55 degrees.

 A Few Words About Squash Vine Borers

Squash Vine Borer MothSquash Vine Borers (also known as Vine Borers or SVBs) are one of the most dreaded insects for squash.   Surprisingly it only takes a couple of SVBs per plant to constitute an infestation.  The insects drill down into the vines, usually near the bottom of the plant and proceed to eat at the vine until it is completely severed.   Even worse is the fact that the female squash vine borer lays her eggs on the underside of leaves, which hatch, turn into larva and crawl down the leaf to the vine, entering it to feast on the squash plant.

The first sign that you might have a squash vine borer infestation is usually some wilting.  Sometimes you notice that the squash has suddenly stopped growing when previously it was growing noticeably.  Finally, upon closer inspection you’ll see holes and possibly debris on the vine which is a clear indication of squash vine borers.

Squash Vine Borer HolesOnce you have determined that squash vine borers are attacking your sqaush unless you want to resort to using insecticide immediately.  Squash vine borers can be stopped by hand removing them since leaving them inside your squash vine will destroy your crop.  Upon finding any entry holes carefully and slowly slice upwards from below the insect, making sure to not slice completely through the vine.  Then remove the borer and kill.  Remember to continue as these insects are not single births and there could be several on the same vine.  If the infestation is not too advanced you may be able to save your crop.

 If You’d Like To Know More About Growing Squash and Vertical Gardening!

 Growing Squash On Electrical Conduit Supports

Squash Vine Borers

Growing Squash On A Fence (Videos)