Hamilton College Community Farm

Plant: Summer Squash

Family: Cucurbits

Seed Varieties:
  • Zucchini: There are several different types of zucchini, from the classic dark green variety most commonly grown, to fancy ridged and striped varieties, to yellow. Varieties grown in the past are black beauty and costata romanesco.
  • Yellow: Of a similar shape and size to zucchini only yellow, these squash also produce prolifically throughout the summer and have a tender texture and subtle taste.
  • Patty Pan: Shaped like flying saucers, these unique looking squash vary in color from yellow to green to a mottled color. They have tender skin, and taste similarly to the other summer squashes.
Indoor Start Date and Cell Size:

Plant on 5/1, 5/14, 6/1, 6/15, and 7/1 in 38s

Greenhouse Transplant Date and Cell Size:

Summer squash is not transplanted in the greenhouse.

Outdoor Transplant Date and Bed Specifications:

Transplant seedlings on 5/16, 5/29, 6/16, 6/30, and 7/16 spacing them every two feet on small hills with two rows per bed. Do not interplant the successions, and be sure the new plants have plenty of room and are not being crowded out or shaded by more mature plants.

Plant Needs and Cultivation Techniques:

Summer squash are fairly resilient and easy growing. Well-drained soil, and water during dry spells are all that is really necessary for a good yield. Stay on top of weeding early on until the leaves shade out the weeds. Because the root system is shallow, early successions can be mulched to help with yield.

Pests and Pest Control:

There are four problems common to summer squash: cucumber beetles, squash vine borers, squash bugs, and powdery mildew.

  • Cucumber beetles: These are small yellow and black striped beetles that attack both the vine and the mature fruit.
  • Squash Vine Borers: These are moths that lay their eggs on the squash plant, and the larvae of which bore into the base of the mature vine. They must be cut out of the vine once they have bored in, which can do irreparable damage to the plant. It is best if the larvae are caught and removed before they get a chance to bore in. Keep an eye out for adult vine borers starting in late June to know if the squash crop will be at risk. Adult vine borers, which look like wasps and buzz loudly as they fly, can be caught in yellow pans of soapy water. Planting a second succession of squash in early July after vine borer eggs are laid is also a solution. If the larvae do invade the plant, the vine will begin to die, and what looks like wet sawdust will appear around the base. After the borer is cut out, heap soil around the base. If the plant does not recover, remove it so the borers do not spread to neighboring plants.
  • Squash Bugs: These bugs damage the leaves of the plants, and can do damage to the fruit. They lay their eggs in clusters on the underside of the leaves, and frequent monitoring of plants is the best defense. The egg clusters are easy to remove, as are the young bugs. Keeping the bugs under control from the beginning is the only way to stop them from becoming a major problem.
  • Powdery Mildew: This is a fungus that appears as a grayish white covering on the leaves of the squash plants. It is best controlled if caught early and sprayed once or twice a week with a neem oil and baking soda solution.
Harvest Techniques:

Zucchini and yellow summer squash should be harvested when about ten inches long. They can still be used when they get bigger, although they have more seeds and lose some of their flavor. During the height of their production, they should be harvested every day. Using a knife, cut the fruit off of the vine close to where the stem meets the fruit, being careful not to damage the vine. Be careful not to knick the fruit, as this will make it rot more quickly.


After washing, cut the stem as short as possible without cutting into the flesh of the squash. This short stem will not damage other fruit during storage. Keep refrigerated in a sealed container for up to a week after harvesting. Although they may keep beyond a week, the likelihood of them becoming mushy increases. Squash freezes very well shredded and put in Ziplocs. It can then be thawed later and used in soups or breads or other dishes.


For retail, sell at $0.75-$1.00 each, depending on size, and plentifulness of summer squash in the area. In mid-July, for example, everyone has summer squash, and just wants to get rid of it, so $0.75 would be more appropriate. For wholesale, sell at $1.50 per pound.