The term “squash” encompasses a wide variety of fruit-bearing plants belonging to the Cucurbita genus.
One of the most fascinating things about squash is that nearly all varieties belong to a single species, Cucurbita pepo.
Most edible varieties are categorized as either summer or winter squash. However, pumpkins and gourds are also types of squash!
One thing you should know about growing squash from seed is that not all seeds are guaranteed to germinate. So when calculating how many squash seeds per hole to plant, most gardeners recommend sowing 2 or 3.
As long as you have a decent-sized garden bed, growing any type of squash is remarkably simple. These vegetables can add flavor and color to your culinary creations from summer all of the way into winter!
Types Of Garden Squash
As the name implies, summer squash is best grown in warm weather. These varieties are also associated with summer because the fruit is harvested early in the year before it fully matures.
Popular summer squash varieties include zucchini, yellow squash, and crookneck squash.
Winter squash varieties aren’t harvested until much later in the year. Unlike summer squash, the fruit of these varieties is allowed to fully mature on the vine.
The mature fruit of winter squash is much tougher than that of summer varieties. As a result, winter squash has a longer shelf-life than summer squash.
Common varieties of winter squash include butternut, acorn, and spaghetti squash.
Like summer and winter squash, pumpkins belong to the species Cucurbita pepo. In fact, some winter squash varieties are also classified as pumpkins.
One way to tell the difference between a pumpkin and a “normal” squash is the stem. Pumpkin stems are hard and solid while squash stems are soft and hollow.
Popular pumpkin varieties include Jack-o’-lantern, sugar, and miniature pumpkins.
Some varieties are edible while others are used for carving and decoration. Choosing what type of pumpkin to grow in your garden ultimately comes down to how you want to use the harvested fruit.
Gourds are a type of squash with hard-skinned, inedible fruit. Gourds are usually cultivated for ornamental purposes.
Harvested gourds are frequently used as home decor. Many artists also use dried gourds to create intricate carvings.
How To Start Squash From Seed
You can sow squash seeds directly in the garden after your area’s last frost date. The soil temperature should be at least 60°F for optimal germination (summer squash varieties prefer soil that is at least 70°F).
Sow squash seeds in 1- to 2-inch deep holes. Holes should be spaced 3 to 4 inches apart.
Plant 2 to 3 squash seeds per hole. Once the seedlings grow to a few inches tall, cut the extra plants at the stem. Leave the strongest seedling from each hole to continue growing.
Can You Start Squash Seeds Indoors?
Squash plants can easily be started indoors and then transplanted into the garden as seedlings.
This strategy works particularly well for summer squash. You can start your summer squash seeds well before the last frost date, giving them plenty of time to grow before summer.
All squash plants should be transplanted outdoors several weeks after any risk of frost. It’s recommended to place the seedlings outside for 2 weeks before transplanting so they can acclimate to their new environment!
Tips For Growing Squash At Home
Choosing A Location
Squash plants need plenty of sun to produce healthy fruit. Select a planting location that receives at least 6 hours of sunlight per day.
Most squash must be grown in the ground. However, some varieties of summer squash are small enough for container gardening.
As far as vegetables go, squash plants consume a ton of nutrients from the soil. Be sure to plant your squash in rich, well-draining soil.
Supplement the soil before sowing squash seeds by mixing in aged compost or manure. You can continue feeding throughout the year by adding organic matter around the base of the plants.
Squash grows best in moist soil. Frequent watering will ensure your squash plants grow and produce fruit as quickly as possible.
You can mulch around squash plants to preserve moisture in the soil. Planting your squash somewhere it will receive partial shade during the midday can also slow moisture loss.
Planting In Mounds
For the best results, plant squash in mounds. Raised mounds improve drainage and increase the soil temperature.
A mound should be at least 3 inches tall for summer squash and at least 6 inches tall for winter squash and pumpkins. Mounds can be several feet wide and accommodate multiple plants.
Squash requires much more space than most other vegetable plants.
While you can easily plant 2 or 3 plants in a single mound, the mounds themselves should be spaced several feet apart.
As a general rule, bush varieties should be planted in hills at least 3 feet apart. Trailing varieties need hills spaced at least 5 feet apart.
To get the most from your own squash plants, be sure to check the spacing recommendations of each variety!
Saving Squash Seeds For Later
You can stock your garden for many years to come by collecting squash seeds from mature fruit!
Summer squash is typically harvested before the seeds reach maturity. Allow some fruit to continue aging on the plant if you want to collect seeds. Most summer squash seeds mature when the rind hardens and (in some varieties) changes color.
Winter squash, pumpkin, and gourd seeds generally mature at the same time the fruit is harvested for consumption.
After harvest, all species of squash should be left to cure for at least 20 days before collecting any seeds. Store the fruit in a cool, dark place to prevent mold during this time.
Avoid cutting through the middle of the fruit when collecting seeds. This can damage the seeds.
Squash seeds should be rinsed clean of all pulp and debris. Allow the seeds to completely dry out before storing them in a cool, dry location.
Most squash seeds will last for 6 years with proper storage.
How Many Squash Seeds Per Hole – Final Thoughts
Squash is a remarkably diverse vegetable that is definitely worth including in your garden this year!
Squash is quite easy to grow as long as it receives plenty of sunlight and water. But it’s still smart to plant more seeds than you need — at least 2 or 3 per hole — to ensure a good crop.
If you’re short on space, consider growing a compact variety of summer squash-like bush zucchini!