We posted a photo of our squash plants growing vertically a couple of weeks ago on our Facebook page and asked you if you wanted to see a post about how to grow it vertically and the response was an overwhelming “YES!”. So here’s our how-to guide for growing summer squash based on how we’ve grown it in the GreenStalk Vertical Planter.
Squash and zucchini can be intimidating to grow. But really, if you’ve grown cucumbers and tomatoes, you can definitely grow summer squash and zucchini. In this post I will focus on growing varieties of summer squash and not winter squash because we have the most experience growing summer types and winter varieties usually take longer to grow.
Start your plants from seed. Summer squash germinates quickly and you’ll have access to more varieties. For vertical growing, it’s best to choose a compact bush variety and choose a type that your family will enjoy eating. It’s easy to sneak some zucchini in a stir fry for picky eaters whereas yellow squash may be more challenging. Plant your seeds in the spring after the last frost for your area. Summer squash, well, likes summer weather. If you have a short growing season, you can start your seeds a few weeks before last frost and transplant them into your GreenStalk Vertical Garden or you can just go ahead and plant in your GreenStalk but move it indoors if frost is in the forecast. It’s especially easy to do with the GreenStalk Mover!
Summer squash will do the best if grown in full sun. If you have a shady backyard, these are not the plants for you. Another thing to keep in mind is that you’ll need a high quality potting mix. We talk about this a lot at GreenStalk, since soil selection is so important to the success of your garden. Be sure to pick up some potting mix that is lightweight and mixed especially for containers. Do not use garden or top soil for growing squash or any plant in containers. You can apply fertilizer/plant food/compost when planting. We recommend using a slow release fertilizer formulated for fruiting vegetable plants – like Tomato Tone.
Since squash requires a good amount of horizontal space, plant one seed in every other pocket to give them room to spread out. You can plant different varieties together, but you won’t want to save seeds from the crops produce since they can cross-pollinate and affect later crops. We love growing both yellow summer squash and zucchini together.
As your plants grow, make sure the soil is moist but not continually saturated. It’s always recommended not to water the leaves but rather the roots, so thankfully with the GreenStalk Vertical Planter, you just fill the top water reservoir when the soil starts to dry out and the watering system will slow drip water directly to the soil. If the soil is dry below the first inch of soil, your plant could use some water – especially so when your seeds are germinating or your squash plant is just a seedling.
Squash and zucchini plants require pollination. The plants will produce both male and female blossoms, and if they aren’t pollinated correctly, you won’t get a good harvest. You can see in the photo above the difference between the two types. Male flowers will not produce fruit but they usually appear first so don’t be alarmed if you just see these blossoms on your plant and they don’t turn into fruit. If the female flowers aren’t producing fruit, then you will need to help pollinate them by hand. Just use a clean paintbrush to get the pollen from the male flowers to the female ones. The cool thing about the blooms of a squash plant is that they are edible!
Squash plants are pretty notorious in our area for getting powdery mildew – which doesn’t immediately kill the plants or affect the harvests, but it can over time. We do our best to control it with placing the vertical planters in a breezy open area and applying neem oil to the leaves when the plant starts fruiting. If one of your plants gets a severe disease or pest problem, harvest the fruit and pull the plant. Don’t risk that problem going to the rest of your garden. If you have a long enough growing season, you could just replant and start over.
We saved the best for last – harvesting! Check the seed packet to see how long a full sized squash should be (usually 6 or 8 inches), but we recommend harvesting a little on the earlier side. We’ve let the fruit grow a little too long in the past and it can crack or loose flavor over time. When harvesting, be sure to cut the fruit off the stem with a sharp knife – leaving just a couple inches of the stem still attached to the fruit. Never pull the fruit off the vine – you’ll damage the plant. If you decide you want some garden related assistance, it might be a good idea to consider consulting with a lawn care specialist (https://www.lawncare.net/service-areas/georgia/).
See it’s not too challenging to grow squash vertically in a GreenStalk Vertical Planter! Have you ever grown squash? Leave your tips in the comments below.