Growing crookneck squash couldn’t be easier, and for your garden, it is hands down the best summer squash you will grow. Yellow crookneck squash is the most productive and flavorful summer squash variety that I’ve ever grown.
- What is crookneck squash?
- Crookneck squash plant
- Other varieties to try
- Growing crookneck squash
- What you need to know about squash flowers
- How to pollinate a squash flower
- Planting crookneck squash seeds
- Caring for summer squash plants
- Best plant companions for crookneck squash
- Growing crookneck squash in containers
- Harvesting crookneck squash
- Cooking with crookneck squash
- Preserving crookneck squash
- Will you be growing crookneck squash this year?
- When Is a Crookneck Squash Ripe?
- Time to Harvest
- What to Look For
- Overripe Squash
- Using Overripe Squash
- When to Pick Summer Squash
- How to Pick Summer Squash
- Crookneck Squash Varieties: How To Grow Crookneck Squash Plants
- What is Crookneck Squash?
- How to Grow Crookneck Squash
- Harvesting Crookneck Squash
- When to Harvest Summer Squash
- How to Harvest Summer Squash
- How to Store Summer Squash
- Mixed squash
- Stuffing squash
What is crookneck squash?
Crookneck squash is a yellow-skinned fruit with a curved neck. Sometimes the flesh is bumpy and sometimes it is smooth. You can also find a very similar fruit without the curved neck which is known as straigtneck.
However, I’ve not tasted another type of summer squash that can compare to the perfect buttery sweetness of the yellow crookneck. You might have gotten a glimpse of the yumminess of the crookneck squash from fruit you bought at the store, but it’s the homegrown product that really stands out in the kitchen.
In this post, I am going to show you how incredibly easy it is to grow this productive vegetable plant at home. We’ll go over starting crookneck squash seeds, planting tips, caring for the plants, and how to preserve crookneck squash.
Crookneck squash plant
Yellow crookneck squash is a variety of summer squash in the Cucurbita pepo family. Crookneck and many of the summer squash varieties are bush plants. They do not grow on long giant vines like many winter squashes and pumpkins do which makes them easier to grow in containers and small spaces.
A squash plant makes large flat leaves on tubular stems which have small prickly spines on them. The fruit sets at the base of the plant and you have to reach around and under the leaves and stems to harvest the fruit.
Summer squashes are large bushy plants that set fruit at their base.
The little spines on the leaves and stems will scrape against your hands and arms which is admittedly a little uncomfortable and itchy when you’re harvesting from several plants. For that reason, you may choose to wear gloves and long sleeves for harvesting.
As long as you’re removing fruit from your squash plant, crookneck squash plants will continue to produce until killed by frost or disease. And healthy plants are prolific enough to only need 1 or 2 plants to feed your family for the summer.
Other varieties to try
If you’re looking to try something other than (or in addition to) crookneck squash, I recommend you try one of these cool varieties:
- Zephyr – this hybrid variety has a milder flavor than crooknecks, but it’s the coloring that makes this squash stand out. It’s very unique having green colored flesh at the blossom end. It’s one of my favorite vegetables to take to market.
- Golden Egg – another hybrid variety that I like because of its different shape. These grow into large egg shaped squash, and they hold up very well on the grill.
- Pattypan – this is another squash known for its unique shape, but patty pans (also known as scallop squash) are heirloom varieties. I like to harvest and cook these squashes when they’re very small and still have the blossom attached.
- Lebanese white – this heirloom squash is among the smaller of the squash plants making it great for container gardens.
Growing crookneck squash
Summer squashes are generally very easy to grow and are a great choice for the beginner gardener. They’re one of the easiest vegetables to start from seed, and they do best when seeded directly into your garden soil.
Squash likes soft fertile soil, but it will grow in most soil types. We have no trouble growing crookneck squash in our Georgia red clay, but dry, overworked soil will lead to poor production and disease problems.
For the best results, prepare your garden for squash plants by mixing in 2-4 inches of compost or other appropriate garden soil amendments as needed.
What you need to know about squash flowers
Squash plants make male and female flowers. The male flower produces pollen and the female flower produces fruit. Early on in the season, you might notice that your plants are only producing male flowers.
This is totally normal, and it’s speculated that the plants do this to attract pollinators to the plants before they start putting energy into making fruit. Because squash plants are not self-pollinating, bees, wasps, and other pollinators are necessary for the production of fruit.
If you are concerned that pollinators are not visiting your squash plant flowers, you can do the pollinating yourself.
How to pollinate a squash flower
First, you’ll identify a male flower. Male flowers stand tall and proud. They have a straight stem with no ovary and a single upright stamen in the center.
Now find a female flower. Female flowers are usually tucked at the base of the plant on a short stem. You will also note an ovary at its base that looks like a tiny version of the mature fruit.
To prepare the male flower for pollinating a female flower, remove the male flower from the plant and pull off its petals.
In the center of the female flower, the yellow cluster of the stigma is the receptacle for the pollen. Gently touch the stamen to stigma to transfer the pollen from the male flower to the female. That’s all you need to do.
You can see that pollinating squash flowers is not difficult, but it’s much more convenient and productive if you encourage pollinators to visit your squash plants.
Planting crookneck squash seeds
Squash seeds are relatively large seeds so it’s easy to place them individually in your garden. We often let the kids plant these seeds because they love being a part of growing our food.
If you have a very short growing season (less than 90 days), then I would recommend starting your squash seeds indoors about 3 weeks before your planting date. However, most gardeners can direct seed this crop into their garden in early spring.
Set out crookneck squash seeds (or plants) about 2 weeks after your last frost or when the soil outside is 65F or higher. To plant squash seeds, simply press the seed into the soil about an inch deep, cover lightly with soil or compost, and water them well.
The spacing between crookneck squash seeds should be 2-3 feet. Most summer squash plants don’t vine out, but they will grow to several feet wide, and crowding squash plants is a good way to get overrun by squash bugs and powdery mildew.
Squash seeds usually germinate within 3-10 days and make their first fruit within 60 days of planting. And they’ll keep making fruit until they’re killed by frost or disease.
Did you know? While considered a vegetable in the kitchen, crookneck squash is actually a fruit by the botanical definition.
Caring for summer squash plants
Summer squashes are fairly low maintenance plants. When planted in the right location and kept hydrated, they really don’t need a lot of care.
Plant summer squash where they’ll get a minimum of 6-8 hours of sun per day. They love bright light and heat, but you do have to keep them well watered.
Crookneck squash is a very watery vegetable, and plants that don’t get enough water will make fewer fruits and have trouble with blossom end rot. If you encounter squash bugs or powdery mildew, employ organic methods to control squash problems.
In healthy soil, you won’t need to worry about fertilizing your squash plants. But if you notice that the plant is not growing or not making flowers or fruit, then you should side dress with a fertilizer that has an NPK ratio where the middle number (phosphorous) is larger than the first number (nitrogen).
Best plant companions for crookneck squash
Because squashes require pollinators to set fruit, companion planting with flowers is an excellent idea.
Zinnias, asters, and sunflowers are lovely among your vegetables and attract numerous beneficial insects. Nasturtium is especially beneficial when grown with crookneck squash as it helps repel squash bugs, and its pretty flowers have a bright peppery taste.
Other plants that make great companions for summer squash include borage, marigold, oregano, and lemon balm. They also grow well with radish, corn, cucumber, and melons.
Growing crookneck squash in containers
Crookneck squash is a great plant for growing in containers. You might get away with a container as small as 5 gallons, but I would get a 10 or 20 gallon container for a single squash plant.
Care of container grown plants is similar to plants growing in the ground except that containers tend to dry out more quickly, so keep a close eye on your container grown squash for drying out.
There is no need to add a trellis or support for summer squashes as most are bushy plants that are not suited to vertical gardening.
Harvesting crookneck squash
Crookneck squash, like other summer squashes, is best when harvested young. The young fruit of summer squash is sweeter and more tender. This is in contrast to winter squash which becomes sweeter as it ages.
I like to pick crookneck squash at about 4 inches, but you can pick it younger or older than that according to your taste. As crookneck squash gets larger, it also gets an unpleasant pithy texture and loses is sweet buttery flavor.
Earlier in the season, the fruit stays tender and sweet for longer. But as it gets hotter and drier in late summer, you’ll want to pick fruits at 4 inches or less.
Aside from their size, you can tell summer squash fruits have gone too far when the flesh gets too hard to dent with your fingernail and the color changes from bright yellow to orange.
You can also harvest and cook up the flowers and leaves of your squash plants. Make sure not to take too many flowers or leaves so that your plant can continue to produce fruit.
Crookneck squash plants will continue to flower and fruit as long as you keep picking them. If you leave very many fruits on the plant, it will think its job is done and quit producing.
Toward the end of the season, let one healthy fruit mature completely to save seed. Immature fruits also have immature seeds. To save seed from crookneck squash, simply remove seeds and set them on a paper towel to dry for about a week.
Cooking with crookneck squash
Crookneck squash is easy to use in any recipe that calls for summer squash or zucchini. Its rich sweet flavor is delicious sauteed with onions, battered and fried, and layered into casseroles. You can even substitute yellow crookneck squash for zucchini when baking.
Use the spiralizer to make curly veggie noodles or the mandoline to create long slices perfect for making a veggie lasagna. But, personally, I love simple recipes that highlight the delicious flavor of this summer veggie.
We like to make a simple side dish of sliced squash, onions, and tomatoes drizzled with a little olive oil and flavored with salt, pepper, and a little parmesan. We just layer the veggies in a baking dish and let it cook at 350 for 30 minutes.
Sprinkle with your favorite fresh herbs from the garden before serving. It’s simple, fresh, and can be completely homegrown!
Preserving crookneck squash
After you pick your crookneck squash, you’ll need to use it within a week. It will last a few days on the counter and about a week if kept in the fridge.
If you know you’re not going to be able to use it, there are a few ways you can preserve it. Summer squash, in particular, is not amenable to all the methods of preserving food. None are going to be quite as good as the fresh veggie, but they’re still nutritious and filling.
Because of the high water content of this vegetable, there is no good way to preserve the texture for eating later. That said, here are the very best ways to preserve your squash harvest for homegrown cooking beyond summer.
Canning summer squash
Summer squashes including crookneck squash are a low acid vegetable. So water bath canning methods are not going to get hot enough to keep your food safe, and the USDA has withdrawn its recommendations for pressure canning.
I know that many families have been canning summer squash in a pressure canner for generations, but to be on the safe side, it’s best to preserve crookneck squash by dehydrating, freezing, or pickling.
Here’s some more info on preserving summer squash from the Clemson University extension service.
Dehydrating summer squash
You can also dehydrate summer squash to make your own veggie chips. Try this salt and vinegar recipe or these super easy dehydrated squash shreds.
Freezing summer squash
You can freeze summer squash blanched or unblanched, but blanching helps it retain its flavor longer. Squash can also be breaded for frying prior to freezing.
Another option is to make freezer friendly squash dishes that can be stored in the freezer until you need them.
Will you be growing crookneck squash this year?
Share your experience in the comments below!
When Is a Crookneck Squash Ripe?
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Crookneck squash is a type of summer squash. The squash has a narrow, bent neck and a bulbous opposite end. It is usually yellow. Like other types of summer squash, such as zucchini, you should pick crookneck squash before it grows too large. Crookneck squash is ripe and ready to eat before it has a chance to fully mature and produce large seeds.
Time to Harvest
Crookneck squash needs warm soil and weather to survive and grow and so should be planted after the danger of frost or started inside a few weeks before. Once the plant’s flowers are pollinated, the fruit develops very quickly. Usually, crookneck squash will be ready for harvest a week after its fruit first forms. In some cases, the squash may be ripe four days after its flower forms. As long as an identifiable squash has formed, it cannot be picked too early. Picking the squash quickly encourages more to develop.
What to Look For
When ripe, a crookneck squash will be between 4 and 6 inches in length and less than 2 inches wide. A 6-inch or longer squash may still be edible but may have a tougher texture. Depending on the variety, the color of the squash is either bright or pale yellow. The skin is slightly shiny when ready to eat. A shiny skin means the fruit is tender.
Sometimes you may miss picking a squash when it is still young and tender. Crookneck squash left on the vine will grow larger and will develop a hard skin. The flesh becomes woody and the seeds become large and mature. If you intend to have the plant continue to produce squash, you should pick any overripe squash right away. Letting the squash remain on the plant reduces its yield as the large fruit requires significant energy.
Using Overripe Squash
While some people may find the squash inedible because it is tough, you can try roasting the squash and turning it into a dip, according to gardener Gayla Trail, author of “Grow Great Grub.” Since the seeds of an overripe crookneck squash are mature, scoop them out and save them for planting next year. Let the squash sit in a cool, dry place for several weeks after picking for the best results with its seeds. After you cut open the squash and scoop out the seeds, wash and then allow them to dry completely before storing.
Growing summer squash is one of the many delights of having a vegetable garden. The fresh, buttery taste of squash is hard to beat when you have worked hard to grow your own.
Summer squash is relatively easy to grow and the plants are very prolific – continually producing fruit throughout the season. There are many delicious recipes using squash that are sure to please.
If you are new to growing summer squash you might be a little confused about how and when to pick the fruits.
Here is a simple guide you can follow to know exactly when the squash is ready to harvest, and the easiest way to pick them from the plant.
When to Pick Summer Squash
Knowing when to pick summer squash is not very hard at all. The biggest thing to remember is to pick them early and pick them often.
You want to avoid letting the squash get too large. A large squash can become very seedy and gain a mealy, undesirable taste.
If you pick the squash from the plant as soon as they are ready it will help promote more production from the plant.
Once the squash plant begins blooming you want to keep a watchful eye on them each day to monitor their progress, because squash can grow very quickly. You may spot a small squash one day, and then four or five days later it could be a behemoth!
I have found that the ideal-sized squash for picking is usually about four to eight inches long and about two to three inches in diameter. The actual size of the squash will depending on what variety you are growing.
Early Prolific Straightneck squash are generally shaped like a stretched-out pear, while Crookneck squash look similar but with a bent neck.
Here’s an Early Prolific Straightneck Squash that is ready to be harvested.
Your first impression might be that the squash in the picture above is smaller than you’d expect for harvesting. This squash is about four inches long and almost two inches in diameter – perfect for harvesting!
Once you have identified a summer squash that is ready to pick, now it’s time to properly harvest it from the plant.
How to Pick Summer Squash
The best case scenario is that you want to harvest the squash from the plant without damaging the fruit or the plant. This may sound like a big deal, but it is really very simple.
First, you will want to grab the summer squash at the bulge on the end. Grabbing the squash here gives you the best leverage when removing it from the plant.
Once you have a firm grasp on the squash begin gently lifting it up. You should hear a snap or popping sound.
That is the fruit snapping off from the plant.
After you hear the snapping sound, give the squash a quick twist to the left or right, and the squash should be free from the plant.
Congrats! You successfully picked a summer squash!
If you are unsure about removing the squash by hand, you can always use a sharp pair of garden scissors.
Simply clip the squash from the plant about a half-inch from the top of the squash. This is a very easy way to harvest the squash without any chances of damaging the plant. Just make sure you do not accidentally cut into the stem of the plant.
Crookneck Squash Varieties: How To Grow Crookneck Squash Plants
Growing crookneck squash is common in the home garden. Ease of growing and versatility of preparation make crookneck squash varieties a favorite. If you’re asking “what is crookneck squash,” then this article can help. Click here for more info on growing crookneck squash.
What is Crookneck Squash?
Yellow crookneck squash is a type of summer squash, closely related to the yellow straightneck squash. Varieties may be smooth or ridged. Usually shaped somewhat like a bottle, it grows in summer, sometimes prolifically, and is often a top-producer in the garden.
Numerous recipes are available online for its use. Crookneck squash is often breaded and fried as a delicious side, used in a range of casseroles, and is a great healthy ingredient to include in those green smoothies. Season and grill slices of crookneck, then top with cheese and bacon bits. Or use your imagination for cooking and serving. This squash may be eaten raw, steamed or stewed. It may be canned or frozen, too, if the harvest produces more than you can use at one time.
How to Grow Crookneck Squash
Crookneck squash plants are warm season growers. Seeds germinate at 85 degrees F. (29 C.). Because of the popularity of the crop, some have devised ways to get germination earlier. Plant seeds in an already prepared full sun spot and cover the surrounding soil with black plastic or dark mulch or use row covers to hold in the heat. Covering should be light so the seeds can pop through upon germination.
You may also start crookneck squash plants from transplants that you purchase or start indoors early on. Plant seeds or transplants in well-draining, nutrient-rich soil amended with compost worked in 3 inches (7.6 cm.) down. A pH of 6.0 to 6.8 is most productive. Many long-time growers plant squash in hills, raised several inches above the row. When planting from seed, plant four seeds,then thin twice to get the strongest grower.
Keep the soil moist and water in a consistent manner.
Harvesting Crookneck Squash
Pick them when they’re young and developed, with a glossy skin and still tender. Harvest the squash by cutting or breaking, leaving a portion or all the stem on the squash. Learning when to pick a crookneck squash may begin as an experiment if this is your first time growing them. Letting them grow too long results in a hard, unusable squash.
Crooknecks that are too mature have a hard rind and large seeds, compromising the quality of the fruit. When you’ve picked one from the bush, another will soon develop to take its place. It is most important to harvest the first flush of crookneck squash so they will continue to develop. This crop will keep producing all summer as long as bushes are healthy, and fruits are harvested in a timely manner. They are usually ready in 43 to 45 days.
Prepare for your harvest, as this crop doesn’t hold for long when picked, often no more than three to four days in the refrigerator.
Now that you’ve learned how to grow crookneck squash, use them as your family prefers and be sure to put some up for winter.
Harvest summer squash young and tender. Harvest summer squash when the skin is glossy and soft enough to be easily pierced with your thumbnail.
When to Harvest Summer Squash
- Summer squash is edible as soon as the skin is glossy and can be pierced with a thumbnail.
- Harvest zucchini, crookneck, and yellow squash when they are 6 to 8 inches long.
- Harvest scalloped varieties when they are 3 to 6 inches in diameter.
- You can harvest zucchini and yellow summer squash as baby squash when the fruit is 4 to 6 inches long. Baby summer squash will be tender and tasty.
- Summer squashes can grow quite large—up to 10 inches long—but it’s best to pick earlier. Summer squash is most flavorful when harvested young and tender.
- Check plants every two or three days once they begin to produce fruit. Leaving large fruit on the vine will slow and can even stop production; large squashes that go to seed signal the plant that its life cycle is ending. Harvest summer squash before the fruit grows large and seedy.
- Overripe squashes use moisture and nutrients that could be used to produce young, tender fruit. (But overly large squashes can still be used as a puree for soup or grated for sweetbreads.) Summer squash that is too hard to be marked by a thumbnail is too old to use and should be composted or thrown away.
Handle summer squash gently to prevent wounds to the skin.
How to Harvest Summer Squash
- Use a garden pruner or sharp knife to cut the fruit away from the vine; leave a short stem attached to the fruit to extend the storage life. Don’t tug or pull fruit from the vine; you could injure the plant.
- Handle summer squash gently to prevent wounds to the skin.
Tips on how to grow summer squash at How to Grow Summer Squash.
More tips on harvesting all summer vegetables at Summer Vegetable Harvest Tips.
Pattypan summer squash. Gently wipe fruit clean with a damp cloth and then store in the vegetable crisper of the refrigerator.
How to Store Summer Squash
- Store summer squash by gently wiping the fruit clean with a damp cloth and then placing it in a perforated plastic bag (to maintain humidity) in the vegetable crisper of the refrigerator.
- Do not store summer squash in the refrigerator for more than 4 days.
- Avoid storing summer squash at temperatures below 50°F (10°C); the fruit is susceptible to chilling injury at temperatures below 50°F; chilling injury symptoms include surface pitting, water loss, yellowing, and decay.
- Zucchinis can be frozen for use in bread and soups: peel, slice or cube, and blanch the fruit by placing the squash in a wire basket then plunge it into a large kettle of rapidly boiling water for three minutes; then cool the squash by plunging the basket into ice water for another three minutes; drain and pack the fruit in freezer containers. Frozen summer squash can be prepared for mealtime by boiling for three to five minutes until fork tender.
Storing winter squash is different than storing summer squash–read How to Store Winter Squash.
More tips: How to Grow Summer Squash.
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The variety of heirloom and hybrid summer squash make it tempting to experiment with new varieties in your home garden.
Photo by Nikki Seibert
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The oddly named cucuzza squash, sometimes called “googootz,” grows long and thin, like a baseball bat, and is best eaten stuffed.
Photo by Diane Veto Parham
Summer squash, fried with onions in a cast-iron pan, is one of my favorite Southern dishes. Seems like it’s practically mandatory, if you plant a garden in the South, to grow crookneck yellow squash or green zucchini—they’re tried-and-true, easy to grow and tasty to eat. But with all the hybrid and heirloom summer-squash varieties out there, why not try something new?
Many years ago, a horticulture colleague shared this rule of thumb about choosing seeds: Stick with 80 percent tried-and-true varieties, and experiment with 20 percent new and unusual plants. Trying that with summer squash can lead to delicious discoveries!
Squash are grouped into either summer or winter types. Winter squash, such as spaghetti, acorn and butternut squash, are grown while temperatures are warm but typically are harvested in early fall. They have higher sugar contents than summer squash. With their hard outer shells and dense, sweet flesh, these squash are perfect for storing and eating well into winter.
Summer squash (Cucurbita pepo) grow best when temperatures are between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Yellow straightneck, crookneck and green zucchini are all varieties of the same plant with different fruit shapes, sizes and growth habits. They’re ready for harvest when they are young and tender, while your fingernail can pierce the thin, edible skin. Eat them raw or cooked, but quickly; their shelf life lasts only about a week before fruit quality begins to decline.
Among the varieties of summer squash, you may have seen a rounded, scallop-edged squash that resembles a flying saucer. That’s pattypan squash—sometimes called scaloppini or sunburst squash. These whimsically shaped squash are often served scooped out and stuffed with garlic, breadcrumbs and onions. Some varieties to look for include Flying Saucer, Sunburst, Peter Pan and G-Star. Pattypan squash grow on bush-type plants and can be harvested at any size.
Round, ball-shaped varieties of green zucchini are another squash well suited for stuffing and are considered a gourmet treat. The hybrid varieties Eight Ball and Black Ball have dark-green skin and mature quickly, within 45–50 days after planting. One Ball is a round zucchini with bright-yellow skin. Other yellow-skinned zucchini with a more traditional squash shape include Goldmine, which has white stripes along the cylindrical fruit.
The exotically named Cocozelle, or Cocozella di Napoli, are open-pollinated, heirloom Italian zucchini characterized by dark-green skins and white or light-green ribs and prized by chefs for their delicious flavor. Harvest these tender squash early and often to keep them producing fruit longer.
Tromboncino (Cucurbita moschata) are trumpet-shaped squash more closely related to winter squash but harvested as summer squash. Similar in flavor to zucchini, this Italian heirloom grows on vigorously climbing vines. When harvested young, it has a sweet, tender flavor. Left on the vine, tromboncino squash develop hard skins that allow them to be stored a bit longer.
Cucuzza squash (Lagenaria siceraria) is another popular Italian hybrid. The pale-green fruit resemble long, skinny baseball bats growing on a vine. Typically, they are harvested for eating when they are less than 3 inches in diameter and between 15 inches and 3 feet long. Botanically, cucuzza is really a gourd. Unlike other summer squashes, its skin is too tough to eat, and it’s best eaten cooked. You might hear cucuzza called “googootz,” a slang term that can mean any zucchini squash or a term of endearment for a loved one. No matter what you call it, eat it stuffed, like a true Sicilian, for a tasty summer supper.
For late-spring or summer harvests, plant your squash seeds during these dates, depending on where you live:
- Lowcountry, March 20–April 10
- Midlands, April 1–20
- Upstate, April 15–May 15
For late-summer harvests, plant your squash seeds as follows:
- Lowcountry, August 10–25
- Midlands, August 1–15
- Upstate, July 1–20
When planting, follow soil-test recommendations for fertilization rates. Avoid applying too much nitrogen; this can lead to vigorous growth with few flowers.
Don’t fret if the first flowers on your squash don’t produce any fruit; they can’t, because they are male, pollen-producing flowers. All squashes produce both male and female flowers on the same plant. After a few days, female, fruit-producing flowers emerge, and tiny squash fruit will follow.
Pollinators are critical for good fruit production. Honeybees and squash bees, a native pollinator, do the lion’s share of the work. Misshapen fruit are a sign of poor pollination. To attract a variety of pollinators, try planting zinnias, cosmos and other pollinator-friendly flowers nearby.
If you grow tired of eating the fruit of your summer squash, try eating the flowers. The edible flowers are delicious stuffed with cheese, fried or simply chopped over pasta. Harvest squash blossoms first thing in the morning before they are fully opened. No matter how you eat them, summer squash are versatile, diverse and delicious!
AMY L. DABBS is an area horticulture agent for Clemson Extension based in Charleston County. Contact her at [email protected]
Battling blossom-end rot
Just like tomatoes, squash can get blossom-end rot, a dark-brown or black rot that occurs near the end of the fruit. Blossom-end rot is caused by a lack of calcium available to the plant while the fruit are forming. This can be caused by a deficit of calcium in the soil and exacerbated by dry periods or irregular irrigation.
To combat blossom-end rot:
- Test garden soil regularly, and apply lime only if recommended.
- Mulch vegetables with 2 to 3 inches of organic materials, such as grass clippings, pine straw or leaves, to prevent soil from drying out.
- Don’t overfertilize plants with nitrogen or potash (potassium). Excessive amounts of these nutrients depress the uptake of calcium.
- Irrigate squash plants during long dry periods.
- Improve soil by adding organic matter, such as good-quality compost. Compost improves soil structure, drainage and water-holding capacity. Adding organic matter helps increase plant uptake of water and calcium. Plus, all the critters in good, healthy soil help combat diseases and insects naturally.
Squash recipes – If you’ve got summer squash, we’ve got recipes. Check out ideas for transforming your squash and zucchini into delicious pies, soups, pasta and more at SCLiving.coop/food/squash.