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Summer Squash

One of the most productive vegetables, summer squashes differ from winter squashes in that they are picked and eaten while immature and tender. Zucchini is simply an elongated, cylindrical, usually green variety of summer squash; straightneck, crookneck, and pattypan are other common types. A single squash plant will produce separate male and female flowers; both must be present at the same time for pollination and fruit set. The flowers themselves also may be harvested and prepared, usually fried. Doing so will decrease overall squash yields, so if you plan to harvest a lot of flowers, plant extra vines to ensure a good fruit harvest.

Habit
Large, sprawling vines need ample space.

Days to Harvest
48 to 58

When to Plant
Fleshy roots do not transplant well. Sow seeds directly in the garden when all danger of frost has passed. You can make a second sowing about halfway through the season for fall harvest.

Light
Full sun.

Soil
Any moist but well-drained soil.

Watering
Big vines and fleshy fruits require ample water to develop properly.

Fertilizing
Use an organic vegetable fertilizer.

Pest Problems
Check underside of the foliage for cucumber beetles and squash bugs. Handpick and destroy them. Squash vine borers live inside the vines; look for their entry holes, make an incision in the area, then remove larvae. Heap compost over the wound to encourage rooting.

When to Harvest
For best flavor and continued production, harvest squashes frequently and when fruits are small. They mature quickly, so plants should be checked every day or two.

Summer Squash Recipes
Sauteed Zucchini and Yellow Squash with Mint
Two-Colored Squash Loaf Cake
Summer Squash Lattice Tart
Buttermilk Squash Soup