Prepare your garden
Place your plant support in the garden bed. All squash can be grown vertically, even zucchini and button squash, and it is a great space saver. Squash that grow on a vine can be attached to a trellis for support. Depending on the variety of squash, they may need additional support to prevent breaking off as they grow. This can be done using old hosiery or mesh bags like red supermarket onion bags, which attach to the trellis and hold the weight of the fruit. Zucchinis and button squash that fruit along a centre stalk can be grown vertically using tomato cages. As the stalk grows vertically, lift it up and support it inside the cage with its leaves. Growing squash vertically can prevent some diseases and fungus from growing due to decreased moisture and improved air circulation.
Squash seeds are larger than most vegetable seeds and therefore easier to plant. They have a hard exterior shell, and so soaking them for up to 12 hours before planting, will soften this shell and hasten sprouting.
Plant your seeds 4 - 5cm deep and ensure you space according to the seed instructions of the variety you are growing. Germination rates are good so plant one seed per hole.
The Three Sisters Method is a traditional companion planting method for squash and involves planting corn, legumes and squash together. The beans use the corn as a climbing support. Whilst the squash grow around the base of the corn shading the soil and decreasing evaporation. Lastly, the legumes add nitrogen to the soil which feeds the corn and squash.
Plant your corn before the squash and beans. Allow them to reach approximately 10cm in height before planting the beans and squash. Follow my Beginner Companion Planting Guide to learn this method.
Border your garden beds with flowers like marigolds which attract beneficial insects to pollinate your crops.
The time to harvest depends on the variety you are growing. Zucchini are best harvested when they are 20cm long. Whilst other squash are harvested at the end of the season when the vine has died.
Author: Diana Barnes, Growing Vegetable Down Under