Thriving Squash Plants from Seed

Growing squash plants from seeds is an inexpensive and rewarding way to feed your family with delicious, nutritious food. Seed catalogs and garden centers offer numerous squash varieties. With so many choices, the decision of which ones to grow might be difficult. Choose the variety suited to your garden size and your taste buds. Soon you will be reaping a bountiful harvest of beautiful squash.


How to Plant Squash Seeds

There are two methods of starting squash plants: direct seed sowing in the outdoor soil and starting transplants in containers. Each method has specific steps that must be followed to grow thriving squash plants.

Direct Sow Squash Seeds

Direct sowing of squash seeds is the recommended method of starting squash plants. When the soil temperature, air temperature, and soil composition are all right, choose either hill or row planting of the seeds.

Plant squash seeds in hills that are 4-8 feet in diameter. Sow two or three seeds 1 inch deep about 36 inches apart. In a few weeks when the seedlings have several true leaves, thin out the weakest in each grouping. Cut the weakest out with shears at the soil’s surface.

If you choose to plant squash seeds in rows, plant the seeds in the same method as you would in a hill, remembering to plant at least 36 inches apart. To prevent the plants from spilling over into adjacent rows, space rows at least 4 feet apart. Vining varieties planted on the perimeter of the garden can spread outside the garden.

Start Seedlings in Containers

Squash seedlings grow quickly, developing large roots that require a container that can adequately contain them. Containers must be 5 inches or more deep. An inexpensive container can be a large plastic disposable drinking cup. Remember to cut drainage holes in the bottom. Once your containers are ready, follow these steps:

  • Fill a large container with premium soil starting mix.
  • Using clean water, moisten soil thoroughly.
  • Fill clean planting containers to within 1/4 inch of rim with the soil mixture.
  • Sow two squash seeds 3/4 inch deep in each container.
  • Place containers in trays to catch excess water.
  • Label containers with the name of the seed and the planting date.
  • Place in a sunny location or add artificial lighting.
  • Keep at temperatures of at least 70°F (21°C).
  • Keep soil moist, not soggy.

The seeds will germinate in 10-14 days, soon becoming thriving transplants. Once a few true leaves develop, cut down the weakest seedling of each container. There should only be one squash plant in each container at this point. The final steps are hardening off the seedlings then planting them 36 inches apart in the garden.