CULTURE: FROM TRANSPLANTS:See "Winter Squash".
approx. 11 seeds
DIRECT SEEDING:Sow beginning in late spring after danger of frost, when soil temp. is at least 62°F (17°C) for treated seeds and 70°F (21°C) for untreated seeds. Seeds will rot in cool, wet soil. Sow 3 seeds every 12" (thin to 1 plant), 1/2-1" deep, in rows 5-6' apart.
ROW COVERS:Heavier grade floating row covers (see Index) will provide about 4°F of frost protection, and add warmth for increased vigor and earlier harvest.
DISEASES:If the first few fruits wither, blacken, and/or fail to enlarge, it indicates an absence of pollination, remedied when male blossoms appear and provide pollen. Viral diseases tend to be cyclic; watch for resistant varieties. Downy mildew may occur in cool, damp weather, powdery mildew in hot, dry periods and in the fall. Till in vines before winter or remove and compost plants. Copper fungicides (see Index) offer some preventative control if applied early enough.
INSECT PESTS:Protect young plants with floating row covers to exclude cucumber beetles, squash bugs, and vine borers. Pyrethrin (see Index) offers some control. Squash bug eggs (brown to brick red, laid in concise groups) on underside of leaves can be crushed by hand. Keep borders mowed. For vine borers use Bt or Azadirachtin around the base of young plants. Cut borers out of vine and hill soil over the wound. Clean up refuse in the fall, and spring-plow the ground to bury the pupae.
HARVEST:Sow every 2-3 weeks for consistent supply. Cut or gently twist off young fruit. Handle with care to avoid scratching fruits. Harvest regularly, 2-3 times/week depending on age of plants and daylight.
HARVEST SQUASH BLOSSOMS:Male blossoms have thin stems, females have thick stems and a bulbous base where fruit is developing. Harvest male/female blossoms at midday, when fully open, for use in salads or for stuffing. If squash crop is desired, harvest only male flowers, being certain to leave a few to pollinate female flowers. Clip flowers from vine 1-2" below flower base with sharp scissors or pruners.
STORAGE:Refrigerate fruit at 32-50°F (0-10°C), 80-90% relative humidity, for 1-2 weeks.
DAYS TO MATURITY:From direct seeding; subtract about 14 days if transplanting.