‘Summer squash’ refers to a handful of gourd varieties that we pick and eat in their unripe form (before seeds are fully developed). The fruits can come in a variety of sizes, shapes and colors but all taste relatively similar and lend well to a many different cooking applications.
Zucchinis and other and summer squash are relatively easy to start from seed, but also transplant easily as well. Plant or sow seeds during late spring/early summer when soil temperatures have reached around 60℉.
Most summer squashes are bushy plants that grow 2-3 feet in diameter. We recommend planting them at least two feet apart if you are planting multiples, or situating one in a the corner of your bed if space is limited.
Squash plants typically prefer full sun, but will grow best in filtered light during the afternoons in hotter regions.
Mature plants can have prickly spines and contain chemicals that cause irritation in some. We recommend using gloves and scissors when harvesting and pruning.
It is common for the first few blossoms to dry and fall off, and the first squash fruits to be malformed. The first flowers to form are male flowers, which exist to provide pollen to the female flowers, which will form your squash and zucchini. Under pollinated flowers can grow into deformed fruit, and it is important to remove when this occurs to keep your plant producing.
To harvest: wearing gloves, and using scissors or a knife cut off the summer squash at the stem when they reach 6-8 inches (3-4 inches for pattypan).
For all varieties, they should be harvested while the skin is thin, before it becomes thick and bumpy. Summer squash when left to mature, form the bumpy skin, seeded, decorative gourds in Fall. Once your plant is regularly producing fruit, you can harvest and eat the male flowers!
Male and Female Flowers: How To Tell The Difference
Both flowers are edible, but we prefer to leave the female flowers to form fruit and harvest the male ones to eat and enjoy. Male flowers are usually the first flowers to occur on your plant. The stem that holds the flower will be long and then. The female flower stem will be significantly thicker and you can see the beginning of a fruit forming.