Straight neck yellow squash

Squash, Summer, Early Prolific Straightneck

How to Grow

  • Keep weeds under control during the growing season. Weeds compete with plants for water, space and nutrients, so control them by either cultivating often or use a mulch to prevent their seeds from germinating.
  • Squash plants have a shallow root system, mulches help retain soil moisture and maintain even soil temperatures.
  • Keep plants well-watered during the growing season, especially during dry spells. Plants need about 1-2 inches of rain per week during the growing season. Use a rain gauge to check to see if you need to add water. It’s best to water with a drip or trickle system that delivers water at low pressure at the soil level. If you water with overhead sprinklers, water early in the day so the foliage has time to dry off before evening, to minimize disease problems. Keep the soil moist but not saturated.
  • Squash plants have both male and female flowers on the same plant. Male flowers will open first and the female flowers will open later.
  • Monitor for pests and diseases. Check with your local Cooperative Extension Service for pest controls recommended for your area.
  • Attract bee pollinators by planting daisies such as sunflowers, cosmos, zinnias and coneflower, and mints such as beebalm, sage, oregano and lavender. More bees mean more chances flowers will be pollinated and develop into fruits. Border squash plots with rows of beans, herbs, peppers and tomatoes.

What Is Straightneck Squash – Learn About Straightneck Squash Varieties

For many growers, squash is truly among the hardest working and most productive vegetable plants in the home garden. Whether growing winter squash or a summer variety, the diversity among this family of plants is remarkable. Specifically, summer squashes are prized for their upright and bushy growth habit, as well as usefulness in the kitchen. Types such as straightneck are perfect for those looking to enjoy early season harvests from the garden without the stress of starting seeds indoors.

What is Straightneck Squash?

Straightneck squash plants are a type of summer squash. Straightneck squash varieties bear small, yellow fruits with subtle flavor. As their name would imply, these squash plants have a straight“neck” which attaches to the plant.

Summer squashes are ideal additions in areas with short growing seasons, as plants

mature quite quickly. Straightneck squash is also a favorite plant for succession sowing and in the fall vegetable garden.

As with any summer squash, straightnecks should always be harvested when young and tender.

How to Grow Straightneck Squash

Growing straightneck squash is very similar to growing other varieties of squash. Tender to frost, it is imperative that all chance of frost has passed before planting straightneck squash into the garden.

While it is possible to start squash seeds indoors, many prefer to sow the seeds directly into the garden. To direct sow, simply press seeds gently into the soil of a well-amended and weed free garden bed. Quick to germinate, seedlings often emerge within 5-7 days.

Straightneck Squash Care

Throughout the season, heavy feeding straightneck squash will require frequent and consistent irrigation. Since overhead watering may lead to issues such as powdery mildew, avoid wetting the plants’ leaves. This will help to reduce the occurrence of this disease.

Like other members of the squash family, straightneck squash may battle several insects and pests throughout the growing season. Some of the most commonly encountered include cucumber beetles, squash bugs, and squash vine borers. Infestations of any of these insects can lead to partial or complete loss of squash plants in the form of bacterial infections and wilt.

Though sometimes difficult to control, vigilant gardeners are able to prevent excessive damage with close attention and monitoring of plant health.

Zucchini and summer squashes are frost-tender, warm-season annuals. The most popular summer squashes are crookneck, straightneck, scallop, and zucchini.
Start to grow zucchini and summer squash usually no sooner than 3 weeks after the last frost in spring.

Summer squashes grow best in air temperatures ranging from 60° to 75°F (15°-23°C); established fruit will ripen in temperatures as high as 100°F but flowers will drop in high temperatures.

Scallop summer squash

Squashes which include zucchini are a large group within the cucumber family, Cucurbita, and include gourds, pumpkins, and summer and winter squashes. Summer squashes are eaten when they are immature, usually when their skins are soft and thin; winter squashes are eaten mature after their skins have thickened and hardened. Summer squash commonly grows as a bush or smaller weak-stemmed vining plant. Squashes have large, broad leaves; 4 to 6 stems or short vines grow from a central root. Fruits vary in shape from round to cylindrical to scalloped much as their names imply: crookneck, straightneck, scallop, and zucchini. Separate male and female flowers appear on the same plant.

Squash Yield. Grow 1 or 2 summer squash plants per household member.

Where to Plant Squash

Plant squash in full sun. Grow squash in loose, well-drained soil rich in organic matter. Prepare planting beds in advance working in plenty of aged compost. Add aged manure to planting beds the autumn before growing squash. Squash prefers a soil pH of 5.5 to 6.8. Summer squashes will sprawl slightly; if space is tight train them over small A-frame trellises.

Sow squash seeds in the garden–or set out seedlings started indoors–only after the soil has warmed to at least 60°F

Zucchini and Summer Squash Planting Time

Summer squashes are frost-tender, warm-season annuals. Sow squash seeds in the garden–or set out seedlings started indoors–only after the soil has warmed to at least 60°F, usually no sooner than 3 weeks after the last frost in spring. Start squashes indoors as early as 4 weeks before the last average frost date in spring. Sow seed indoors in biodegradable peat or paper pots that can be set directly in the garden so as not to disturb plant roots. Summer squashes grow best in air temperatures ranging from 60° to 75°F; established fruit will ripen in temperatures as high as 100°F but flowers will drop in high temperatures. Squashes are warm-season crops and very sensitive to cold and frost. Summer squashes require 50 to 65 days to reach harvest.

Planting and Spacing Zucchini and Summer Squash

Sow squash seeds 2 to 3 inches deep. Sow squash in raised hills or inverted hills 4 to 5 seeds set 3 to 4 inches apart; thin to the two strongest seedlings. Space hills 6 to 8 feet apart. In rows, plant 2 squash seed 10 inches apart in rows 3 to 5 feet apart; thin successful seedlings in rows to 3 feet apart. Thin seedlings by cutting off weak seedlings at soil level with scissors so as not to disturb fragile roots. Hills or mounds should be 6 to 12 inches tall and 20 inches across. This will allow plants to run down the hill away. Inverted hills–which can be used to retain moisture in dry regions–can be made by removing an inch of soil from an area about 20 inches across and using the soil to form a ring or circle. Plant 4 or 5 seeds in each inverted hill. Summer squashes can be trained up a fence or trellis. Set supports in place at the time of planting so as not to disturb growing roots.

More tips: Summer Squash and Zucchini Seed Starting Tips.

Straightneck summer squash

Water and Feeding Zucchini and Summer Squash

Squash grows best in soil that is kept evenly moist. Squashes require a lot of water in hot weather. Plants may wilt on hot days as they use water faster than the roots can supply. As long as the water is regular and deeply applied, wilted plants will liven up as the day gets cooler. Squash that is wilted in the morning needs immediate water. Add aged compost to planting beds before planting and side-dress squash with aged compost at midseason. Side dress squash with compost tea every 2 to 3 weeks during the growing season. Avoid feeding squash with high nitrogen fertilizer, 5-10-10 is best.

Companion plants. Nasturtiums, bush peas, beans. Avoid planting summer squashes in the shadows of taller plants.

Zucchini and Summer Squash Care

Squashes have separate male and female flowers. The first flowers to appear are male flowers that will not produce fruit. Female flowers appear slightly later and are pollinated by the male flowers commonly with the help of insects. If pollination is slow or does not occur, use a soft-bristled brush to dust inside a male flower then carefully dust the inside of a female flower (a female flower will have an immature fruit on its stem, a male won’t).

Once fruits form set each one on a wooden plank so that it does not have direct contact with the soil; this will allow squashes to mature with less exposure to insects.

More tips: Squash Growing.

Container Growing Zucchini and Summer Squash

Bush-type summer squash can be grown in containers. Sow 2 or 3 seeds in the center of a 10-inch container; thin to the strongest seedlings once plants are 3 to 4 inches tall. Extend the growing season by planting early and moving pots indoors when frost threatens. Set a cage or trellis in place at planting to save space.

Squash Pests and Diseases

Pests. Squash can be attacked by squash bugs, squash borers, and cucumber beetles. Handpick or hose away beetles. A small hole in the stem or unexplained wilting may indicate the presence of borers. Slit the stem, remove the borers, and dispose of them. Cover the slit stem with soil to encourage root development from that point.

Squash borers or bacterial wilt can cause squash plants to suddenly wilt and die just as they begin to produce. Bacterial wilt can be spread to squash by cucumber beetles; handpick and destroy cucumber beetles.

Diseases. Squashes are susceptible to bacterial wilt, mosaic virus, and mildew. Plant disease-resistant varieties. Keep the garden clean and free of debris where diseases and pests may harbor. Water at the base of plants to keep water off the foliage, and do not handle plants when they are wet to avoid the spread of fungal spores. Remove and destroy infected plants before they spread disease to healthy plants.

More on diseases and pests: Zucchini and Squash Growing Problems: Troubleshooting.

  • Powdery mildew, a fungus disease, will cause leaves to turn a gray-white color late in the season. Proper spacing and increased air circulation will help reduce this problem.
  • Mosaic virus can cause squash plants to become mottled yellow and stunted. Mosaic virus is spread by aphids. Control aphids and remove affected plants.
  • Blossom end rot will cause squash fruit to rot from the blossom end. Blossom end rot is caused by fluctuations in soil moisture. Water evenly and regularly and mulch around plants to conserve soil moisture.

Zucchini and Summer Squash Harvest

Summer squashes are ready for harvest 50 to 65 days from sowing. Pick summer squashes young when rinds are still tender and before seeds have formed. Harvest zucchini and crookneck varieties when they are 5 to 10 inches long (4 to 7 inches long for yellow varieties); harvest scallop and round types when they are 3 to 5 inches in diameter. Break the squashes from the stem, or use a clean knife to cut the fruit away. Do not let summer squash mature; that will suppress flowering and reduce the yield.

Squash blossoms are edible.

Squash flowers are edible. Pick and eat male flowers so as not to reduce the productivity of the plants. Squash flowers are often dipped in a batter and deep-fried.

Storing and Preserving Zucchini and Summer Squash. Summer squashes will keep in the refrigerator for up to one week. Do not wash squashes until you are ready to use them. Cooked squash can be frozen, canned, pickled or dried.

More harvest and kitchen tips: Summer Squash: Kitchen Basics.

Varieties of Zucchini and Summer Squash

Costata Romanesca

More on squash you can grow: Summer Squash Varieties: Best Bets and Easy-to-Grow.

Common name. Summer squash, crookneck, pattypan, straightneck, scallop, zucchini.

Botanical name. Cucurbita species.

Origin. American tropics

More tips: Squash and Pumpkin Growing Tips.


Straightneck Squash

Light requirements: Full sun.

Planting: Space 24 to 72 inches apart, depending on type. (Read the stick tag that comes with the plant for specific spacing recommendations.)

Soil requirements: All squash types need well-drained, nutrient-rich soil. Work at least 3 inches of compost or other organic matter into soil prior to planting. Create raised beds if soil tends to be heavy and poorly draining.

Water requirements: Keep soil consistently moist throughout the growing season. Before vines begin to run, mulch soil lightly to reduce water evaporation. Once vines spread, leaves shade soil and act as living mulch.

Frost-fighting plan: Squash plants are sensitive to frost and are damaged by even a light frost (28º F to 32º F). It’s a good idea to protect newly planted seedlings from late spring frosts by covering plants with straw or a frost blanket. Do not let frost settle on late-season fruits of summer or winter squash. Frost-kissed winter squash won’t store well.

Common issues: Watch out for squash bugs, squash vine borers, and cucumber beetles. If pest problems start early in the season, grow plants beneath floating row covers. Squash can experience blossom end rot, where the end of developing fruits starts to rot. Powdery mildew often appears on leaves in late summer.

Harvesting: For best flavor, pick summer squash like crookneck and zucchini when fruits are small. Winter squash, like acorn, hubbard and butternut, should ripen as fully as possible on the vine, but gather all fruits before frost. Cut squash from vines, leaving an intact stem attached to squash. Having a stem section (one-half to 1 inch) is the secret to successful storage, both short- and long-term.

Storage: Refrigerate summer squash in a loosely closed plastic bag. It will stay at peak freshness and nutrition up to 5 days, and remain useable for up to 14 days (although it may become soft). Winter squash can be stored for varying lengths of time, from a couple weeks to several months. Hubbard and butternut store longest. Research best storage conditions for the type of winter squash you grow.

For more information, visit the Squash page in our How to Grow section.

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