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Growing summer squash and zucchini in home gardens

A quick guide to summer squash and zucchini

  • Some varieties form long, rambling vines.
  • Bush types fit more easily into a small garden.
  • Sow seed directly in the garden after the soil has warmed, in late May to early June.
  • Plastic mulch and row covers allow earlier planting.

Warm weather vine crops 

Green zucchini growing on plant

Summer squash (Cucurbita pepo), including zucchini, crookneck, straightneck, patty pan and other similar types, is common in Minnesota vegetable gardens. You can eat squash fruits cooked, raw and shredded or grated in baked goods. Squash flowers are edible, as well.

Like other “vine crops,” summer squash plants grow best and produce the most fruit in warm weather. Some varieties form long vines. Others are bush types that fit more easily into a small garden.

Squash plants have separate male and female flowers. A slender stem attaches male flowers to the plant. Female flowers grow close to the main vine. Between the flower and the vine is a small round ovary, the unfertilized fruit.

An insect must move the pollen from the male flowers to the female flowers. Bees are common squash pollinators.

Soil pH and fertility

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Planting

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How to keep your summer squash and zucchini healthy and productive

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Managing pests, diseases, and disorders

Many things can affect summer squash and zucchini crowns, leaves, flowers, and fruit. Changes in physical appearance and plant health can be caused by the environment, plant diseases, insects and wildlife. In order to address what you’re seeing, it is important to make a correct diagnosis. 

You can find additional help identifying common pest problems by using the online diagnostic tools What insect is this? and What's wrong with my plant? or by sending a sample to the UMN Plant Disease Diagnostic Clinic. You can use Ask a Master Gardener to share pictures and get input.

Note that just because you are seeing some damage doesn’t mean all hope is lost. One plant can produce a lot of fruit, so a little disease or insect feeding isn't a reason to stress.

 

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Authors: Marissa Schuh, Extension educator, Vincent A. Fritz and Carl J. Rosen

Reviewed in 2022

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