Powdery mildew on squash leaves
Butternut squash (winter type, left) ready for harvesting and properly spaced squash plants (right)
Summer and Winter Squash
Squash likes rich, well composted soil. Also most squash do best if direct seeded in the garden when the soil is warm. This date is usually around the end of May or the first week in June for northern Colorado Springs. It is a week or two earlier for the southern part of our city.
Do not plant in mounds! Any benefit you get from warming is negated by the difficultly in keeping the mound moist (after a short time the mound will wear down and water will run off). Plant in a slight depression (1-2 inches is all you need). By the first of July you can apply about 3-4 inches of mulch around the base of your plants.
Squash plants are heavy feeders. Fertilize monthly with a diluted fish emulsion and every two weeks toss about three to four hand fulls of compost around the base of your plants. Harvest your summer squash when it is young and tender. Zucchini that is 5 to 6 inches long is just the right size. Just like cucumbers, if you let just one zucchini get too big it may slow down your harvest for the rest of the season.
The winter squash varieties such as: acorn, butternut, buttercup, spaghetti "usually" grow on long vines. They need plenty of room. Don't crowd them!. Read the seed package for proper spacing. Harvest in late summer and leave the stems on for longer storage. Store in a cool basement for late fall eating.
Powdery mildew (seen below) attacks most everyone's squash sometime during the growing season. You can keep it in check by applying the organic substance, Neem Oil, as recommended. Repeat every two to three weeks throughout the growing season. We use it only in the late evening after the honeybees have returned to their hives. Once it is dried on the leaf it will not harm the bees.