A-Z Gardening in Zone 3-4

For the organic gardner struggling in the short season climate

Squash, Anyone?

1 Comment

There are two kinds of squash, summer and winter. Of the summer squashes there are basically three types, yellow, patty pan and zucchini or green. There are many many kinds of winter squash. We grow carnival, butternut, sweet meat, red kuri, gourds, field and pie pumpkin. In zone 3-4 they need to be started in pots in early May. We plant 5 seeds to a pot and plant the contents of the pot as a hill in the garden. We start ours in the greenhouse, we put the pots in between the rows of cucumbers that we planted directly into the greenhouse soil in early May.

Then we plant them in the garden in black plastic in early June. The black plastic keeps the soil warm and moist, as the squash needs to mature fast in a short season climate. You cannot grow squash in the greenhouse because the leaves become moldy. Cucumbers become moldy after a while also, however, they produce fruit fast and so you will still get a good crop. Mold on the cucumbers has never been a problem.

You cannot grow watermelon, or cantaloupe in zone 3-4, even in the greenhouse, unless you live in a river valley or near a large lake, believe me we gave it a good try. Growing cantaloupe and watermelon in the greenhouse results in the leaves getting moldy .

Summer squashes are at their best when cooked small, about 4 inches long, the blossoms can also be fried with batter. Some people prefer to eat squash when it is very large. As long as you can put your fingernail through the skin you don’t have to peel them. Large squash have very hard skins. Squash does not freeze well except when included in a dish like Italian zucchini. To make it I like to use very large zucchini with soft skins along with onions and tomatoes from my garden. You can make large quantities to freeze and it’s a very nice side dish in the winter. I have a friend that likes to keep large zucchini with hard skins in her cellar during the winter and puts the pulp in soup.

Squash attracts squash bugs which can be easily controlled by spraying with “Pyola” a natural insecticide you can get from Gardens Alive. We also grow a very large variety of marigold, called “Gold Coin.” It grows to 36 inches and is tall enough to reach over the squash leaves. You can get it from Jung Seed Co. Marigold is a good plant to use as an insect deterrent although, bees don’t seem to be bothered by it. The pictures above shows the marigold inter-planted with the squash plants.

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Author: tbenkovitz

I have been gardening for over 50 years, 38 of them as an organic gardener in the short season climate of upstate New York.

One thought on “Squash, Anyone?

  1. Tania and Linda, the BEST remedy for cucumber squash beetles is available from Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Albion, ME. It is a pheromone-based lure coupled with a sticky yellow trap (like the kind we use in the Arboretum greenhouse). I participated in a field trial, what, two, three years ago? It reduced my cucumber beetle population by 90% or better. (My bees are not attracted to it.) Now, if someone would come up with a little bunny trap, perhaps I might have a pole bean harvest this year! I’ve had to replant four times! My 16-year-old barn cat “retired”to the indoors in February, and now she sleeps and sleeps . . . and, presumably, dreams of all the little bunnies she’s caught over the years. Thanks to your inspiration, I am trellising my (beetle-free) cucumbers this year. Happy gardening! Nolan

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