Summer squashes, much like courgettes, are very rewarding to grow, continuously producing tasty and highly versatile fruits throughout the summer months. Just one or two plants will provide plenty to keep the average family in regular supply. Sunburst F1 is a particularly reliable and fast growing variety with attractive, scalloped yellow fruit, dense flesh and a delicate sweet flavour. They are particularly good roasted or stuffed.
Sow indoors March to May. Sow edge downwards, 1.5cm deep into individual pots of compost. Water well and place in a warm, light position, away from cold draughts and out of intense, direct sunlight. Keep the compost just moist and be careful not to overwater, the compost should almost dry out before it is watered again. Seedlings should start to appear in approximately 7-14 days. In late May, acclimatise plants to outside conditions. Place pots outside in a sheltered spot during the day and bring them inside again at night when the temperature falls. Do this for a week or two, until the plants have hardened off. Plant out to a sunny growing position spaced 60cm apart. Keep the soil moist at all times and remove any weeds as they appear.
Sow outdoors late May. Summer squashes can be sown outdoors for ease. Choose a sunny, sheltered location for best results and wait until the soil has warmed up, ideally to around 10°C or more. If the soil is very heavy, cold or waterlogged an indoor sowing is preferable. Squashes like good fertile soil so it’s worth digging in a slow release fertiliser or some organic matter before you start. Sow edge downwards, 5cm deep directly where plants are to grow, spaced 60cm apart. Gently firm the soil and keep moist. Remove any weeds as they appear.
Top Tips About Seeds
Once the seed packet has been opened, the seeds can be stored in an airtight container until required for further sowings. Summer squash seeds will maintain their vigour for a good number of years.
Growing in Containers
Summer squashes form large plants and are not recommended for growing in patio pots.
Late in the season mildew often begins to reduce the vigour of plants, again regular watering will help the plants resist mildew and crop for as long as possible. Aphids can affect weak young plants and in the worst cases spread disease to the plant. With care aphids can be washed off and removed from the plant. To make it difficult for aphids keep the plants well watered and strong. This particular variety does show good resistance to disease however.
Harvest from July to October. It is important to harvest young squashes regularly when around 10cm across, in order to keep a plentiful supply coming on. Leaving fruit to mature may take energy away from the production of other squashes. When there is a plentiful supply of fruit the newly opened flowers can also be harvested and used in salads or even stuffed.
Ideas on how to use your Squash
When plants begin to flower and produce fruit, a regular watering with a liquid feed will help to maximise the crop. It is import to water plants regularly as irregular ‘boom and bust’ watering will result in poor quality fruit, often with tough skins. It may also weaken the plants enough to succumb to mildew. One way to extend the harvest period is to make a last late sowing at the end of June, directly where plants are to grow.