Summer squashes are frost-tender, warm-season annuals. The most popular are crookneck, straightneck, scallop, and zucchini. Sow squash seeds in the garden--or set out seedlings started indoors--only after the soil has warmed to at least 60°F, usually no sooner than 3 weeks after the last frost in spring. Summer squashes grow best in air temperatures ranging from 60° to 75°F; established fruit will ripen in temperatures as high as 100°F but flowers will drop in high temperatures.
Description. Squashes are a large group within the cucumber family, Cucurbita, and include gourds, pumpkins, and summer and winter squashes. Summer squashes are eaten when they are immature, usually when their skins are soft and thin; winter squashes are eaten mature after their skins have thickened and hardened. Summer squash commonly grows as a bush or smaller weak-stemmed vining plant. Squashes have large, broad leaves; 4 to 6 stems or short vines grow from a central root. Fruits vary in shape from round to cylindrical to scalloped much as their names imply: crookneck, straightneck, scallop, and zucchini. Separate male and female flowers appear on the same plant.
Yield. Grow 1 or 2 summer squash plants per household member.
Site. Plant squash in full sun. Grow squash in loose, well-drained soil rich in organic matter. Prepare planting beds in advance working in plenty of aged compost. Add aged manure to planting beds the autumn before growing squash. Squash prefers a soil pH of 5.5 to 6.8. Summer squashes will sprawl slightly; if space is tight train them over small A-frame trellises.