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When to Plant Squash

Summer squash seedling

Plant squash seeds directly in the garden 1 week or more after the last frost. Transplant squash seedlings to the garden 2 to 4 weeks after the last frost; start seeds indoors 4 weeks before setting out seedlings.

The optimal planting soil temperature for squash is 60-85°F (16-29°C). The optimal growing temperature for squash is 60-75°F (16-24°C).

In reverse-season climates, a second crop may be planted in early autumn for harvest in winter.

Planting squash

Squashes are easy to grow but they generally take up a lot of garden space. A vining squash plant needs about 10 square feet of growing room if allowed to sprawl. Squash can be trained vertically on a trellis or tripod to save room. Most squashes are available in bush varieties which take less room.

Squash grows best in humus-rich, well-drained, sandy loam. Add aged compost or a commercial organic planting mix to a depth of 12 inches. Squashes are often planted atop mounds or hills allowing the vines to run down the hill where they can be trained to circle the mound.

Squash are heavy feeders needing a moderate amount of nitrogen and a high amount of phosphorus. Add a slow-release organic fertilizer to the soil at planting time. Plant squash in full sun.

Squash harvest time

Summer squashes such as crookneck scallop, straight-neck, and zucchini mature in 50 to 65 days. Winter squashes such as acorn, banana, buttercup, delicata, Hubbard, spaghetti, and Turk’s turban mature in 60 to 110 days.

Summer squash should be harvested while young and tender when the skin yields to thumb pressure. Winter squash which takes longer to mature should be not be harvested until as late as possible in autumn but before the first hard frost. The shells should be hard enough to resist denting by a thumbnail.

Zucchini seedlings
Zucchini seedlings

Squash planting dates

(These dates are for the Northern Hemisphere)

Average date of the last frostPlanting dates
Jan. 30Feb. 1-Apr.15
Feb. 8Feb. 15-Apr. 15
Feb. 18Mar. 1-Apr. 15
Feb. 28Mar. 15-Apr. 30
Mar. 10Apr. 1-May 15
Mar. 20Apr. 10-May
Mar. 30Apr. 10-June 1
Apr. 10Apr. 20-June 1
Apr. 20May 1-June 15
Apr. 30May 1-Jun. 10
May 10May 10-June 15
May 20May 20-June 15
May 30June 1-20
June 10June 10-20
Young zucchini in the garden
Young zucchini in the garden

Squash planting details

  • Sowing depth: 1-2 inches (2.5-5cm)
  • Space between plants after thinning: 2-3 feet for summer squash; 3-4 feet between winter squash
  • Days to sprout: 7-12
  • Days to harvest: 50-60 for summer squash; 80-120 for winter squash
  • Storage period: 1-2 weeks for summer squash; 8-24 weeks for winter squash
  • Seeds per 100-row feet: 1-2 ounces
  • Yield per 100-row feet: 200 pounds
  • Suggested summer varieties: Aristocrat, Gold Rush, Scallopini, Early Straightneck
  • Suggested winter varieties; Waltham Butternut, Blue Hubbard, Turk’s Turban, Royal Acorn, Vegetable Spaghetti

More squash planting articles:

How to Grow Zucchini and Summer Squash

How to Grow Winter Squash

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. Harvesttotable.com has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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