Sunday, July 24, 2011
Week of July 18 2011 : Squash
Here is a photo of winter squash. Blue Ballet mini hubbards are on the right and Vegetable Spaghetti are on the left. For perspective, the sweet corn on the right is 7' tall. These are some monster plants. And the New England Hubbards (not picare even larger.
Growing large plants are very different than small plants. Seeds and rows are spaced much further apart. Large vining squash seeds are spaced as much as 3' apart and rows are spaced 6' apart. It's hard on the mind's eye to see one seed growing into a plant consuming so much space. But it does in a shockingly short amount of time too.
Another difference is tolerance to insects and weeds. It seems insects, particularly cucumber beetles, are attracted to squash more so than any other crop. In fact hubbards are grown as trap crops for more profitable cash crops. Control is necessary particularly while establishing the field. Fortunately many organic insecticides are available. The catch though is these controls require direct contact with the target pest and cucumber beetles are active at night.
Weed control is necessary but less urgent than with smaller seeded crops. After primary tillage in the spring, the first flush of weeds quickly invades the field. Squash are planted later in the season, after these eager weeds are destroyed with light cultivation. Once the squash are established, they easily shade out any later emerging weeds.