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Articles about Vegetable Crops for the Garden

  Advantages of Container Vegetable Gardens
  Best Vegetable Crops for Containers
  Brandywine Tomatoes - Get the Most From This Heirloom Variety
  Choosing a Site For Your Home Vegetable Garden
  Container Vegetable Gardening Tips
  Container Vegetable Gardens
  Double Your Crops
  Getting Children Interested in Growing Vegetables
  Grow Your Own Salad
  Growing Tomatoes in Pots
  Growing Vegetable Plants Becomes More Than Just A Hobby
  How to Grow a Vegetable Garden
  Indoor Container Vegetable Gardening Ideas
  Indoor Vegetable Gardening How to Tips
  Learning About Indoor Container Vegetable Gardening
  List of vegetable crops by difficulty
  Mushroom Growing in Odd Unused Spaces
  Non Hybrid Seeds For Survival Gardening
  Organic Container Gardening - Simple and Easy Ways to Grow Vegetables and Flowers in Pots
  Organic Vegetable Cultivation Table
  Over Wintering Chilli Pepper Plants
  pH preferences of food crops
  Planning your Container Crops
  Planting Tomatoes Upside Down
  Potato Container Garden Tips
  Preparing a Vegetable Garden
  Review: Food4Wealth by Jonathan White
  Vegetable Container Garden Tips
  Vegetable Crops in alphabetical order by name
  Why I Recommend Vegetable Container Gardening
  Why Vegetable Container Gardening is Getting More Popular Today Than Ever
  How to grow organic Asparagus
  How to grow organic Aubergines
  How to grow organic Beetroot
  How to grow organic Broad beans
  How to grow organic Broccoli
  How to grow organic Brussels sprouts
  How to grow organic Cabbage
  How to grow organic Calabrese
  How to grow organic Carrot
  How to grow organic Cauliflower
  How to grow organic Celeriac
  How to grow organic Celery
  How to grow organic Celtuce
  How to grow organic Chinese broccoli
  How to grow organic Chinese cabbage
  How to grow organic Chicory
  How to grow organic Corn
  How to grow organic Cucumbers and Gherkins
  How to grow organic Endive
  How to grow organic Florence fennel
  How to grow organic French beans
  How to grow organic Garlic
  How to grow organic Globe artichokes
  How to grow organic Jerusalem artichokes
  How to grow organic Kale and borecole
  How to grow organic Kohl rabi
  How to grow organic Komatsuna
  How to grow organic Land cress
  How to grow organic Leaf beet
  How to grow organic Leeks
  How to grow organic Lettuce
  How to grow organic Mizuna
  How to grow organic Mustard greens
  How to grow organic New Zealand spinach
  How to grow organic Onions
  How to grow organic Parsnips and Hamburg Parsley
  How to grow organic Peas
  How to grow organic Peppers (hot and sweet)
  How to grow organic Potatoes
  How to grow organic Radishes
  How to grow organic Rocket
  How to grow organic Runner beans
  How to grow organic Salad onions
  How to grow organic Salsify, Scorzonera and Scolymus
  How to grow organic Seakale
  How to grow organic Shallots
  How to grow organic Spinach
  How to grow organic Squash
  How to grow organic Swede
  How to grow organic Texsel greens
  How to grow organic Tomatoes
  How to grow organic Turnips




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Organic Gardening:


How to grow organic Squash


by

Pumpkin face
Pumpkins are great for Halloween

Squash (Courgettes, Zucchini, Marrow, Pumpkin etc.)

Cucurbita pepo, C. maxima, C. moschata

Family: Cucurbitaceae (Group 5)

Halloween wouldn't be the same without a spooky halloween lantern. But pumpkins are just one of the incredible variety of types of squash you can grow. There are small summer squashes, courgettes (zucchini), patty pans and so on, and huge winter types like the pumpkin and marrow, and many sizes, shapes and colours in between. Organic squashes are fairly easy to grow as long as you start them off right and make sure they get enough water during the fruiting season.

Squashes are divided into Summer and Winter types. Summer squash refers to types that are best eaten fresh, Winter squash those which are grown to maturity and stored for Winter use. Summer types include courgettes (zucchini), patty pan or custard marrow types and crookneck squashes. Winter types include marrows, pumpkins and spaghetti squash.

Recommended cultivars
Marrow All Green Bush, Zebra Cross F1 (bush), Long Green Trailing
Cucumber Mosaic resistant varieties: Badger Cross, Tiger Cross
Courgette Early Gem F1, Zucchini, Rondo de Nice (round), Gold Rush (yellow), Taxi F1 (yellow).
Cucumber Mosaic resistant varieties: Defender, Supremo, Tarmino
Pumpkin Jack be Little (10cm/4"), Atlantic Giant
Summer squash Butternut, Crookneck, Crown Prince F1, Custard White (patty pan), Tender & True
Winter squash Hubbard's Golden, Vegetable Spaghetti, Table Ace, Sweet Dumpling

Site/soil

Open, sunny site; very rich moisture-retaining, but well drained soil.

Preparation

Dig a hole 30cm (12") deep by 45cm (18") across, fill with well rotted compost or manure, and cover with 15-20cm (6-8") of soil to make a raised mound.

Cultivation

Sow indoors in late April to early May at a minimum temperature of 56ªF (13ªC) in pots or modules to minimise root disturbance, 3-4 weeks before the last expected frost. Sow on their sides, 25mm (1") deep. Harden off and transplant mid-late May, depending on area.

Alternatively, in warmer areas, sow 2-3 seeds per station under cloches or individual jam jars (these are not as good as they sound, as the soil sticks to the jars, so when you lift them off you disturb the roots, which is what you are trying to avoid - NOT RECOMMENDED) from mid to late May in situ, thin to one plant per station.

Mark centre of plants with canes to make watering easier. For trailers, either provide strong supports or make sure you have a supply of wire or wooden pegs available to train the plants in a circle.

Planting distances: Bush types 1m (3'), Trailers 120cm (4'), Large types 2m (6'). Bush types also do well in large containers (put some water crystals into the soil in the containers, to help prevent drying out).

Water regularly, up to 10 litres (2 gallons) per plant per week, especially in dry weather and when the plants are in crop. Mulch well. Supplementary feeding will be needed on poor soil and for plants in containers. The best liquid feed is comfrey liquid or diluted bought-in comfrey liquid feed. If you cannot get comfrey, use organic tomato fertiliser or seaweed fertiliser. Plants in containers will need to be watered with liquid feed twice a week while in flower or fruiting, plants in the ground will probably only need to be fed once a week.

If you want to produce large pumpkins for Halloween or exhibition, nip off flowers to restrict production to 2-3 fruits per plant (or a single fruit for giant specimens). Pinch out the growing point towards the end of Summer.

Harvest

Summer squash should be picked regularly to encourage production, from July to September. Although they are usually regarded as a Winter squash, marrows can be picked from about 15cm (6") long, leaving just a few to ripen for storage. Winter squash should be left to ripen on the plant. Remove any foliage which shades them at the end of Summer. When the stems start to dry and the skins harden, cut fruits for storage with as long a stalk as possible. Cut before frost, as frosted fruits will not store. Cure in the sun for 10 days, covering at night if frost threatens. Acorn types need not be cured before storage. Winter squash, properly prepared, will store for 4-6 months in cool, dry, frost-free conditions. They can be placed on racks or suspended in nets. Cover with sacking if very hard frost is expected.

Pests and diseases

Slugs may attack young plants; they are unlikely to do severe damage.
Cucumber mosaic virus can be serious in some seasons; remove and burn affected plants.
Withering fruit, starting at the blossom end, sometimes occurs, usually as a result of poor growing conditions. Check for stem or root rot (remove and burn affected plants); if clear, remove all fruit, water carefully and apply a liquid feed such as seaweed fertiliser. The plant should recover and start fruiting normally again.



If you're interested in healthy food, you may also be interested in our sister site, The Health Site, Your Online Health Channel.


Article ©2004 Frann Leach. All rights reserved.

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