Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Directly Sowing Squash Family Plants Outdoors

When preparing to plan squash in your garden you may want to think about how to plan them first.  Should you buy a squash plant from the nursery, plant your seeds indoors, or can you successfully grow the plant by directly sowing the seeds in your garden?

Squash family plants which include cucumbers, watermelon, pumpkins, and summer and winter squash. None of them like to be transplanted. If you choose to transplant them be very careful to not disturb the roots and buy the smallest plant you can find. The bigger the plant the greater the chance of transplant shock which means less production during fruiting.

Squash family plants do best when directly sown in the garden but they need warmth to grow. So the only reason I would say to use a transplant is if you want a head start on the growing season and the soil is too cool to plant outdoors. However, in most regions of the country this isn't necessary.  Squash family plants mature quickly and do well in areas with short growing seasons.
How to directly sow outdoors:
  1. Dig a hole that is much larger and deeper than needed for the seeds.
  2. Mix in some fertilizer in the bottom of the hole.
  3. Add some soil back in until almost full.
  4. Plant 3 to 4 seeds in each hole in case one doesn't germinate.  After germination you will need to pinch off the extra seedlings so there is just one growing per spot. If you don't, the plants will be crowded and will not grow as large or produce as well.
  5. Cover the seedlings with dirt and pat softly.
  6. Water deeply and keep the soil moist through germination so the seedlings don't dry out.
  7. Cover with a row cover until the plants start to flower. Squash likes it hot, and the row cover raises the temperature about 10 degrees.

For more individual information on the different plants in the squash family, and tips to have a successful harvest, visit The Gardener's Spot Website.
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Happy Gardening! 

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