Squash plants, vining and bush varieties, are sprawling beautiful plants that occupy large portions of a garden. Before planting squash, determine if you have sufficient space for the plant.
The soil temperature determines the planting time. Soil temperature two inches (5 cm) below the surface should be at least 60°F (16°C) for about four days in a row before planting squash seeds. To determine the soil temperature, use a soil thermometer that can be purchased at a low cost online or at garden centers.
Squash plants do not tolerate cold temperatures. Any degree of frost will automatically kill the plants. Squash plants thrive in temperatures of 65°F (18°C) to 85°F (29°C). Wait to plant squash seeds outdoors when the air temperature is consistently above 65°F (18°C).
Plant squash seeds only when the soil is well prepared. The squash plant’s extensive root system requires a soil that is loose and full of composted organic material to a depth of at least 12 inches (30 cm). A well-prepared soil is the life of the plant; therefore, do not skip this step.
Length of Growing Season
Gardeners in warmer locations have the opportunity to plant squash twice a year. Some gardeners rely on longtime gardeners or farmers in their locale for the proper times to plant squash. If this information is not available, simply refer to planting calendars that suggest the proper times to plant squash and other vegetables. Planting calendars also provide other invaluable information.
In addition to garden planting calendars, knowing the days to maturity for the squash seeds and the number of frost-free days in your area are helpful. Knowing the maturity date will allow you to plant your squash with adequate time to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Here are some types of squash and their maturity dates:
- Early Summer Crookneck – 53 days
- Fordhook Zucchini – 57 days
- Early Acorn – 75 days
- Spaghetti – 100 days
- Waltham Butternut – 85-100 days
- True Hubbard – 115 days
Location of Planting
Planting seeds in pots for transplants will be approximately two or three weeks earlier than the outdoor planting of seeds. Squash plants quickly grow to transplant size. The best time to plant seedlings in the garden is when there is only one set of true leaves.