Home gardeners love growing squash because they don’t require much maintenance. Even so, it’s essential to pick the perfect variety of squash for one’s garden, considering there are over a hundred types of squash from which to choose.
There are bush types and vine types – and varieties for summer and winter.
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Summer squash like zucchini takes around 60 days to grow, and one harvests them while young.
On the other hand, winter squash-like pumpkins can take up to 110 days to grow and have thicker skin, which helps contribute to their longer shelf life.
The best squash for a garden largely depends on the gardener, what they prefer to eat, and how long they prefer to keep their squash stored.
Read on to find out the top five squash varieties people grow in their home gardens.
Top 5 Varieties of Squash for Home Gardens
If you’re looking for the best squash variety to grow this summer, then here are our top five picks.
#1 – Zucchini
Courgettes, a summer squash, are prevalent home garden plants because they suit different climates. They are straightforward for harvesting while still young, and their skin is ordinarily sweet and firm.
Harvesting zucchini after they have matured can lead to flavorless fruit – and they get full of seeds!
Home gardeners should keep the plant in warm soil for germination and avoid overplanting. One plant can yield around 10 pounds of zucchini per season.
#2 – Zephyr Squash
Another summer squash, the zephyr squash, is a two-tone fruit with soft insides but firm flesh. It has a yellow top, pale green blossom, and white stripes throughout its skin.
Gardeners start harvesting them when they reach at least four inches long, around 54 days after planting.
The best zephyr squashes are tender, undamaged, and small or medium in size. Larger, more mature fruits tend to be too thick or bitter to cook.
#3 – Patty Pan
Some people grow this type of squash to have fruits that look like flying saucers in their garden. Characterized by their scalloped edges, pattypan squashes come in various colors but have a similar taste.
It’s tender and can be cooked like most other squashes but has a longer lifespan than most. Pattypan squash also has a longer shelf life and can be cooked at higher temperatures.
The best thing is that their flowers are edible as well!
#4 – Butternut Squash
A winter squash, butternut squash, is harvested and eaten once it matures. Butternut squash has a bulbous bottom and a thin neck, resembling a giant pear. Its thick flesh allows it to keep for an extended period even without refrigeration.
Squashes that are more orange than yellow have a sweeter flesh, similar to sweet potato. The vines can reach 15 feet long, with each vine producing up to 20 squash.
#5 – Acorn Squash
This type of winter squash resembles an acorn but is ordinarily dark green with orange patches instead of brown. Gardeners should harvest the squash before it becomes nearly 100% orange as the fruits become more rigid over time.
It can take up to 90 days to grow acorn squash. Once harvested, they should be kept in a cool, dark place.
Did you know?
The word “squash” originated from the word “Askutasquash,” which means “eaten raw, or uncooked.” Askutasquash comes from the Narragansett language – a Native American tribe from Rhode Island, USA.
Squash Growing FAQs – Tips for Growing Squash in Your Garden
Let’s look at some of the most common squash-growing questions you may encounter as a gardener – we also encourage you to ask more!
How Long Does Summer Squash Take to Harvest?
Summer squash is one of the fastest veggies in your garden – and harvesting only takes around 40 to 50 days.
One of my best-kept secrets regarding picking zucchini and other summer squash is to pick them before they get too large!
When the zucchinis get too big – they tend to lose flavor and produce way too many seeds.
In my experience – try harvesting your zucchini when they’re around 7-8 inches long. If you wait too much beyond that, your zucchini may lose flavor!
Is it Already Too Late to Grow Squash This Year?
No! You probably still have ample time to grow squash!
Since summer squash only takes roughly 40 – 50 days to mature, you still have plenty of time to get your squash seeds in the ground!
Make sure to check your estimated first day of frost. If you still have over 60 days, you should be ready to rock.
I usually grow two cycles of zucchini yearly.
The first cycle starts in early June. I start my second zucchini cycle around the middle of July. That way, I have zucchini for much of the summer – and also in the early fall.
Can I Store Summer Squash in the Fridge?
Yes! Putting squash and zucchini in the fridge works – but only for a few days.
Most sources cite that summer squash only lasts in the fridge for four or five days – less than a week.
If you’re in a panic because you have too much squash to store – then don’t worry! It’s straightforward to freeze zucchini if you harvest too much.
Or, you can donate extra summer squash to your neighbors, friends, and family.
Help! I Have Tiny Red Eggs on My Squash Plant?
If you find red eggs on your squash, zucchini, or pumpkin plants – beware! You probably have squash bugs!
Even though I’m careful not to use synthetic pesticides, I always manage my squash bugs successfully.
My biggest secret for battling squash bugs is persistence!
Each day, I browse underneath the leaves of my zucchini plants to check for red eggs. (I don’t have pumpkins this year. But – if you have a pumpkin patch, check your pumpkin leaves for red eggs, too!)
If you find red eggs underneath your squash leaves or zucchini leaves, there’s a good chance that the eggs belong to the abhorrent squash bug – you should remove the eggs ASAP!
Sometimes, I find that manually cutting the eggs from the leaves is the easiest way to eradicate the infestation – but be careful! Try not to damage your squash plant when removing the squash bug’s eggs.
You can also crush the eggs between your fingers – this is probably the better (and safer) solution.
Also, remember that you should search your squash plants early in the season – if a breakout occurs successfully, and if the eggs begin to hatch, then your plants are in peril!
Did you know?
If you have a lot of leftover squash this summer, don’t worry – because zucchini and squash are some of the most underrated culinary ingredients!
Here’s a helpful list of detailed (and delicious-looking) squash and zucchini recipes from the University of Illinois Extension to help keep your tastebuds guessing all year long.
What’s the Best Way to Eat Squash?
Once you begin harvesting your garden squash come the mid-summer and early fall – you might wonder how to eat your squash without getting tired of them?
I’m happy to share three fun (and delicious) squash recipe ideas for a savory snack or as an add-on to your favorite entre.
Three Delicious Ways to Eat Squash:
- Squash Stir Fry – Chopped squash fried on a flattop grill or in a wok accompanied with chicken breast, sausage, or pork makes for the perfect midsummer snack!
- Zucchini, Italian Style – One of my favorite ways to eat squash is to cover your halved squash (or zucchini) with a generous layer of homemade tomato sauce and mozzarella. Bake until the cheese looks nice and golden – your family will love this, I promise!
- Baked and Olive Oil Drizzled – If you’re seeking a healthy way to eat your squash, sometimes simplicity works the best. Try halving your squash and then drizzling your favorite garlic-flavored olive oil. Sprinkle lightly with salt and bake until caramelized – about 10 – 15 minutes on 420-degree heat.
I also found this epic zucchini garlic bite recipe from the Texas A&M Extension blog. Check it out if you want something new – and delicious!
Which Squash Variety is Your Favorite?
Squash is one of the easiest veggies to grow in your garden, but there are too many choices!
We’re wondering, which squash variety is your favorite?
Maybe you like the crazy shape of patty pans or the unmistakably sweet taste of summer squash? Or maybe, you’re a garden traditionalist who loves the flavor of zucchini above all others.
Please reply and let us know!
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