Growing Squash In Containers:
The following is all about Growing Squash In Containers.
Introduction to Squash: Squash is a flowering plant from the gourd family. Squash is widely cultivated as a vegetable for feed for livestock. Squash fruits are edible and usually served as a cooked vegetable and even seeds and flowers are cooked. Squash is a great source of vitamins and nutrients. Squash can be grown in balconies, indoors, terrace even in backyards by using suitable containers. Let us discuss more Squash container gardening.
Scientific Name: Cucurbita.
Common Name: Squash.
Family: Squash belongs to the family of Cucurbitaceae.
Best Types Squash Growing In Containers
The squash plants are two basic types bush and Vining. The bush variety is best to grow in containers as they don’t take more place, vine type squash plants also grown in containers, but they spread all over the area. Choose the compact bush varieties for good yields.
All the varieties of squashes are categorized into two types: Summer and Winter
Summer squash plants produce fruits during summer seasons. Summer varieties squashes are yellow straight and crookneck varieties, zucchinis, and scallop squash. Summer squashes produce more yields than winter squashes. The harvesting period of summer squash is 60 to 65 days.
Winter Squashes: Winter squashes produce fruit after the summer season, or the fruits can be stored till winter to cook. Winter squash takes more than 100 days to harvest. Winter squashes are acorn squash and butter squash.
Spaghetti Squash: This squash comes in yellow or orange color with large seeds at the center. When the spaghetti squash is cooked the flesh falls away from the fruits in ribbon or strands like spaghetti.
Some summer, winter varieties suitable for Growing Squash In Containers
- Bush Acron- It is a Winter Squash have a dark gray-green color hard skin and have thick pale orange flesh with amazing taste.
- Zucchini Green Bush Squash- It is Summer Squash variety produce deep-green fruits with delicious taste.
- Zucchini Golden Squash- It is a Summer Squash variety, produce bright golden yellow fruits with a sweet flavor.
- Makaronowa Warszawska Squash-Spaghetti Squash.
- Table King Bush- It is a winter squash variety, produces dark green colored fruits with pale yellow pulp outside.
- Black Magic Zucchini- It is a Summer Squash variety, produces tender fruits with creamy flesh. It is a quickly grown squash.
- Butternut Squash- It is a Winter Squash variety, produces a pear-shaped fruit with orange colored flesh inside. It is famous for its amazing taste.
- Bush Crookneck: It is a Winter Squash variety, produces fruits with dark colored skin outside and pale-yellow flesh inside.
- Patty Pan: it is a summer squash variety, produce a small sized, round and shallow shape, and scalloped edges look like a toy top.
- Sunburst hybrid: It produces a beautiful butter yellow fruit with accented with a small dark green ring.
- Honey Bear-It is a Winter Squashvarietygives fruit with hard green shell outside and yellow flesh with large seeds inside.
- Bush Baby-It is a summer squash variety produces very small fruits with green lines.
How to Grow Squash In Containers
Like other vegetable squash grows well in containers, squash plant grown in containers produce same size fruits as the squash plants grown in the ground. But selection suitable varieties and proper care play a key role.
The season for Growing Squash In Containers
- Winter Squashes: Winter squash seeds planted at the beginning of the March. When the soil temperature is above 15°C.
- Summer Squashes: Summer Squash seeds are planted in all the seasons except in the winter. Summer squashes are cold sensitive. The best time is early spring.
Suitable Containers for Growing Squash In Containers
- Choose the right container is very crucial for growing squash in containers.
- Squash plants grow to a diameter of 34 to 50 inches depending on the variety.
- The container you should have minimum 25 inches diameter at the top and the depth should be 24 inches.
- Clay containers, a container made of polypropylene, plastic container, wooden boxes, recycled bins, etc. are used to grow squash.
- The container should have a minimum of 2 to 3 draining holes. Squash plant needs a good draining system.
- Clean the pots with mild soap and dry it out completely.
- Cover the bottom of the pots with a layer of small pebbles or gravels to avoid dripping of water and soil from the container.
Suitable Soil for Growing Squash In Containers
- Soil should be loose, well-drained with rich organic matter.
- The pH level of the soil should be 6.0 to 6.5.
- You can use commercial soil mixes or a homemade mix as potting soil to give good growing.
- Ideal potting mix for growing squash in containers is: mix equal parts of perlite + sphagnum+ potting mix+ peat moss + organic or natural compost+ soil.
- Adding natural fertilizer like fish fertilizer or worm casting will promote the growth of the squash plant.
Temperature for Growing Squash In Containers
- The squash plants are warm weather plants, the ideal temperature for growing squash in the container should be between 18°C to 28°C.
- Soil temperature should be below 16°C for sowing seeds and planting the seedlings.
Planting Procedure for Growing Squash In Containers
Planting is a very crucial task, before planting seeds or seedling, fill the container with potting soil and moisten the soil well with fresh clean water.
Steps for Growing Squash In Container
- Fill the container with potting leaving ¼ inch space, between the soil and the rim of the container.
- Moisten the soil and dig 3/4 inch deep hole in the middle of the container.
- Sow 2 to 3 seeds and cover with soil loosely.
- Place the containers in a sunny location where it gets direct sunlight.
- The ideal temperature should be above 21°C for the seeds to germinate. Maintain temperature levels till the seeds germinate.
- Keep the soil moist.
- Squash seeds germinate in a couple of weeks.
- Once the seeds germinate with few leaves, cut down the weakest seedling in the containers.
- Keep the strongest and healthiest seedling to grow, cut off remaining.
- One container should have one squash plant.
- Grow the seedlings in a location where it gets 12 hours of sunlight per day.
Growing Squash In Containers from Transplantation
- Instead of growing squash from seeds, you can buy squash seedling from the nurseries and transplant them to the suitable containers.
- Transplant the seedling very carefully, first the moist the nursery pot and pull out the seedling very slowly.
- After planting the seedling, water the plant and place in the outdoors
Mulching for Squash Plants
- If you are growing the squash plant from seeds, once the plants grow to a height of 2 inches, place thin layer mulch around the plants, mulch maintains the moisture levels of the plants and control weeds.
- If you are growing from seedling, after transplanting seedling spread the layer of the mulch to protect the young roots.
Sunlight for Growing Squash In Containers
- Squash grows well in warm and sunny temperatures.
- Squash plant in containers should get at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight per day.
Water for Growing Squash In Containers
- Squash plants and fruits grow in large size, so they need more water. Giving a good amount produces a delicious sweet squash.
- Water the plant once in a week. In the summer and dry season, you should water more frequently.
- Don’t wet the leaves, water only at the base of the plant. Water thoroughly till it drains out from the holes.
- Water the plants early in the morning, maintain the moisture levels regularly.
- Soil should remain moist six inches deep.
Best place for Growing Squash In Containers
- There are both varieties of squashes are grown in warm climates and cool climate.
- But all types of squash need a good amount of sunlight.
- Outdoors like balcony, terraces, window shelves are the best place to place squash containers.
- Squash container is also placed indoors, but you need to provide them with artificial light or place them where they get necessary light.
Fertilizer for Growing Squash In Containers
- Squash plants should be fertilized for every two weeks.
- Use organic fertilizers or natural compost to increase the nutrient levels of the soil.
- Container grown vegetable require more feed, so frequent feeding should be done.
- After 4 weeks of sowing, plants develop first set of leaves, in that period feed the plants with a control released granule fertilizer over the soil.
- After adding food to your plants, water the plant as per label direction on the fertilizer pouch.
- Feed your plants with 9-15-30 liquid fertilizers.
- Don’t use a fertilizer with high nitrogen levels that lead to heavy foliage and reduce the production of flowers.
- It is compulsory to feed the plant with a balanced fertilizer when the first blossom appears.
- Instead of using chemical fertilizers, you can feed your squash plants with rotted manure, vegetables compost or fruits compost.
Ripening of Squashes
- When the vines grow longer, you should pinch-off of the vines to improve the fruits bearing side shoots.
- When plants set all the fruits ready for ripening, at that time remove the remaining flowers so the plant puts all energy in the ripening of the fruits.
Pollination of Squash for Container gardening
- Lack of pollination leads to immature squash or fruit rot.
- Hand pollinated is recommended for container grown squashes.
- Take the male flower (Flower that have no bulge at the center), stamen and anther are covered with pollen. Use a soft brush and rub on the male flower till pollen stick to brush.
- Now rub the pollen to the central stigma of the female flowers (Flowers with a bulge in the middle).
- Pollination fastens fruit development.
Pests and Diseases in Growing Squash In Containers
- The squash plants are mainly affected by insects like squash bugs, aphids, flies, cucumber beetles, etc.
- You can use natural oil or horticultural soaps to control these insects.
- Blossom-End Rot: This is the major problem is squash plants, blossom end turns black and rot. This mainly caused due to low moisturizer levels in the soil.
- Stink Bugs: Squash with dipping area are caused due to stink bugs. Using insecticidal sprays and hand picking the affected fruits is the best solution.
- The squash plants are affected by many fungal and bacterial diseases.
- Use some natural or organic fertilizers to control the diseases.
Harvesting the squash plants as part of Growing Squash In Containers
- Check the seed package, for details regarding the harvesting period.
- Once you see a bloom on the plant, it indicates that your squash is ready.
- You really don’t need to wait until the squash is huge to pick. Even young squash also has great taste.
- You should check the plants daily so that you don’t miss any fruits, squash will hide under the big leaves.
- Don’t pull the ripened squash off the vines it can harm them. Use pruning tools to harvest the fruits.
- Winter Squashes are harvested when the rind is hard and dark in colors, harvesting period of winter squashes is more than 100 days.
- Winter squashes are usually harvested in September and October.
- Summer Squash harvesting period will 60 to 65 days.
- Summer Squashes are harvested when they are small and tender.
- Harvesting frequently will increase the production of flowers and fruits.
Storing the squash after harvesting from the Containers
- Squash stay fresh in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks.
- If you cut them into pieces and store in airtight containers, you can store them for 2 to 3 months.
Tips for Growing Squash In Containers
- Use trellis or stake to provide support to the heavy fruits of the plants.
- Never use outside soil, instead use potting soil which is rich in organic matter.
- Water the plants until the water runs out from the bottom of the containers.
- Don’t wet the foliage, it may cause fungal diseases.
- In rainy reason, squash plants don’t require much water.
- Place the saucers under containers, this lowers the temperature levels in the soil in hot and dry weathers.
- To control from spreading on the ground, place the containers on the top of the wall or stands or terrace or balcony walls.
- In the case of Vining varieties, you arrange stakes support for vines to spread vertically.
- To prevent rot, keep the maturing fruit on board or any cardboard or on a thick layer of mulch.
Bottom Line Of Growing Squash In Containers
It is the best vegetable suitable for Container Growing. You can have fun growing them.