I really enjoy growing squash and I want to show you how easy they are to grow them yourself. I have divided the squash into two separate groups Summer and Winter, I will discuss how to grow and what some of my favorite varieties and the best squash are to grow.
Not only is squash easy to grow they are also very productive plants and one or two plants of each variety will provide you with plenty of great-tasting squash throughout the season.
Summer Squash is very versatile to use in the kitchen from salads and stirfry to cookies and bread and even relish and pickles.
Best Squash to Grow and Eat List
Summer squash is eaten when the skins are still tender and mature from May-October before the first frost arrives.
Here is my go-to squash for the garden every summer.
Green /Black Zucchini
This is the standard zucchini that produces a yield that will allow you to share with family and friends. Dark green in color with tender skin when picked smaller and with the classic zucchini flavor.
Ribbed Zucchini/Costata Romanesco
This is an heirloom zucchini with a unique nutty flavor and is visually appealing with its green with whitish ribbed stripes. They need lots of room to grow since the plants can get 5 feet wide. Best when picked from 5-8 inches long and you can harvest with the flower still attached to cook and eat.
Yellow Cubes of Butter
These are bright yellow and very tender squash, best to harvest when 4-7 inches long. The plant can have a large number of vegetables on the plant giving you lots to harvest. Great sweet flavor and color to add to dishes.
These squash get their name from the trombone shape of the squash. They can be harvested when 4-7 inches long and light green when skins are very tender and flavor sweeter or can be grown to be very large 2-3 feet long and a golden-brown skin with the flavor of butternut, that can be stored for later use and baked.
Their flavor and texture are different from most zucchini squash and change as they grow, like other summer squash they yield a huge crop giving you plenty to share with others.
These squash are yellow and have a crooked neck instead of the standard straight neck. The skin is thicker and not as tender so it is good to use these in soups or may need to be peeled if picked when larger than 4-6 inches.
These squash are scalloped or flying saucers in shape and yellow making them very visually appealing. The flavor is more buttery than other squash. You should harvest when 4-5 inches across but can also be grown to be 5-7 inches across.
Each of these summer squash has unique shapes, colors, and flavors that add to their distinctiveness. The one thing in common that they all have is the abundance of squash they produce all summer long. So much so that you might need to share with family and friends.
How to Plant Summer Squash
Summer squash needs to be planted in full sun or areas of your garden where they will receive morning and early afternoon sun but not late afternoon sun. They like rich organic soil and typically mature in 45-60 days. It is a good idea to rotate your squash plantings in your garden to reduce the chance of diseases.
Plant seeds or starts after the last frost, they are fast-growing so you will not need to wait long for them to start producing.
Harvesting Summer Squash
Most summer squash is best to be harvested when they are 6-8 inches long for flavor and tenderness, this will also keep the plant producing more squash. You can leave them on longer to grow larger if you prefer.
Summer squash will produce until Fall and the first frost of the season as long as you feed them and keep them watered. Late in the season they may not produce as much as they do early on.
Winter Squash are vines that grow to support several squash and are known to have a thicker skin that allows them to be stored for use all winter. They are larger squash and take longer to reach maturity growing all Summer and Fall before harvesting in late Fall or early Winter.
The flavors range from nutty to sweet and typically are baked.
These squash like an acidic PH with a rich soil base that needs to be fed throughout the growing season, each plant can produce 10-15 squash per plant.
They grow on a vine and the squash starts out green and turns a beige color when ripe in the late Fall. They can be grown on a trellis to vertically grow them since they are not too large. They are oblong hourglass-shaped with a nutty flavor when baked typically they are 10-14 inches long when harvested.
These squash are shaped like acorns but much larger and come in many colors, they like a PH of 5.5-6.8 and are heavy feeders. Like the butternut, they can be trellised with a strong trellis to reduce the space they take up in your garden. You should plant 2-4 plants per hill for good production.
These are great when cut in half and baked with a little brown sugar and olive oil.
They are acorn-shaped squash but golden brown when ripe and have the flavor of sweet potatoes. You can follow the same planting instructions as the normal Acorn squash and produce the same number of squash per plant.
These are one of the larger winter squash with a very thick skin which allows them to be stored for up to 6 months after harvesting.
They have one of the longest growing seasons of 100-120 days to reach maturity and cannot be trellised. They will need lots of space to spread out to grow and are also heavy feeders needing feeding several times a year.
They can grow to as large as 50lbs and can be green to grey in color.
The flesh is sweet and very nutritious supplying vitamins A and C
These squash are the same acorn shape as the acorn squash and are a unique white in color which will add visual appeal when you are growing them. The flavor is similar to a mashed potato when baked with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Grow like the standard Acorn squash and support with trellis to save space.
The plants need lots of room to grow and are easy to grow as long as you provide them with well-draining soil that is fertile.
Each plant will produce squash 8-10 inches long and 4-5 inches around turning a golden yellow when reaching maturity in early winter before hard frost.
The squash is filled with vitamins A and C to give you a nutritious meal.
How to Plant Winer Squash
Best to plant 4-6 seeds per grouping 12 inches between plant groupings in full sun with organic matter added to the soil. They need lots of room to grow since they will spread out on the ground covering 5-10 feet, unlike the summer squash which has a more upright plant.
Be sure to feed the plants throughout the growing season since they are heavy feeders.
Harvesting Winter Squash
Typically winter squash is harvested in winter when squash has a deep color on the skin and the skin has hardened (you can test by pressing your thumbnail into the skin, which should not penetrate).
Cut the squash from the vine when harvesting.
When harvesting the squash you should leave at least 2 inches of the stem attached for curing the squash.
Curing Winter Squash
Curing a squash or pumpkin is needed to store the vegetable for use later in the winter. To do this it should have the stem attached when harvesting and the squash should be placed in a dry warm area for 10-14 days.
Squash that should be cured for storage and use later are Hubbard, Butternut, and Spaghetti.
Acorn squash should not be cured since it can reduce the storage life for use during the winter.
Storage of Winter Squash
Best to store winter squash in a cool, dry area between 50-55 degrees. Ideally, they should be placed on a rack with good air ventilation and not stacked.
Do not store squash near fruit since the fruit releases the chemical ethylene that will cause the squash to rot.
Now that you know the Best Squash to Grow and Eat you need to get started growing your squash.