How do you Grow Squash from Seed?
This can be a difficult question to answer for beginner gardeners because of complex factors like weather, soil, and pests.
This article will help solve this problem and give ALL experience levels of gardeners Easy-to-Follow Tips on growing squash from seed.
And I recommend scrolling to the bottom of this page to find answers to the 6 most frequently asked questions most gardeners have when growing squash.
Tip #1: Choose THESE 5 Squash Types
While there are hundreds of varieties of squash you can grow, I am recommending 5 kinds to choose from.
These are the easiest types when trying to learn how to grow squash from seed.
A) Butternut Squash
Butternut Squash is the most popular type of squash in North America. Unlike other types of squash, it is considered a winter squash and not a summer squash.
This is an incredibly easy vegetable to grow, but because it can take 120 days to mature it is best to start your seeds indoors if you have a short gardening season.
This type of squash takes up a large space in your garden and is ready to be harvested when the skin turns hard.
This type of squash also produces the most vegetable per plant. It is also easily stored, canned, and has many uses.
B) Acorn Squash
Acorn Squash is one of the most popular and easiest growing squashes in the world.
While this type of squash requires a large area to grow, it also produces some of the greatest quantity too.
The Acorn squash is considered a winter squash and when properly stored can be used for up to 6 months.
Like most squash it requires a pH level of 5.5-7.0 and can be grown well into early-winter.
Not only this, but it can be stuffed, used in vegetable salads, and as a complement to fish or chicken dishes.
C) Spaghetti Squash
Spaghetti squash is native to North America & Mexico and is fast becoming one of the most popular types of squash due to its quantity and nutritional value.
This type of squash is also a winter squash, can be stored long-term, and has many uses.
What separates this type of squash from others is that it does not require as much space as others to grow.
It should be noted that you should only harvest this type of squash when it turns yellow.
A little known fact about pumpkins is that they are actually squash.
Pumpkins are one of the easier squash to grow, especially if you protect it from deer and rabbits.
Like most squash, they require a lot of space to grow, but they also have many uses. Pumpkin seeds are considered one of the few superfoods in the world.
Because of pumpkins long growing time (120 days), I recommend planting your seeds indoors.
E) Yellow Crookneck Squash
Yellow Crookedneck Squash is one of the most unique looking vegetables in North America. It is also one of the easiest vegetables to grow.
This type of squash typically requires a much warmer temperature to germinate, is grown during the summer and early fall, and has a wide range of uses.
What makes this type of squash standout compare to others is that it only takes 40-45 days to harvest!
Tip #2 Starting Seeds Indoors
When learning how to grow squash from seed you should always start indoors. This will help minimize the risk of weather, pests, and disease.
Step 1 – Begin Planting Seed Indoors 8 Weeks Before Transplanting Outdoors
When learning how to grow squash from seed you will want to start your seeds inside approximately 8 weeks before you plan on moving your squash into your garden or moving your planter outside.
- You will first want to start by buying your seed. I recommend buying from Amazon because it is quick and inexpensive.
- You will then want to take 3-inch GrowKo Peat Pots and fill them up to approximately 80% full with Miracle-Gro Potting Mix.
- Next, spray your soil 5 to 8 times with a spray bottle. You will want the soil to be moist, not damp. Damp soil can cause unwanted fungus.
Step 2 – Plant 2 to 3 Seeds Per Pot
- Sprinkle 2 seeds per pot about 1/4 inch deep and then gently brush the soil over the seeds. *Note, do not to bury the seeds.
- Then spray the soil again 5 to 8 times until it turns a dark color.
The video below also gives a great tutorial on how to grow squash from seeds.
Step 3 – Provide Your Seeds with At Least 8 Hours of Sunlight
- After planting your seeds, provide at least 8 hours of sunlight by placing the pots by a window or a Grow Light if your windows do not receive enough sunlight.
*If you put your seeds closer than 4 inches they will burn and die. If you put them further away than 4 inches there is a chance they won’t get enough sun to germinate.*
You will also want to keep the room temperature at 70 degrees Fahrenheit
- This is the temperature needed so that your seeds can turn into plants.
If you don’t have an area that will stay consistently around 70 degrees, I would recommend investing in a Plant Heating Mat.
- A Plant Heating Mat is the perfect way to keep your pots and seeds at a consistent temperature that we may not otherwise be able to.
Step 4 – Spray, Spray, Spray
After your initial planting, you will need to spray the soil once to twice a day for approximately 14 days.
It will take approximately 14 days for your seeds to germinate or “pop” through the soil.
Once your seeds have germinated and sprouted through the soil, you will want to continue to spray them twice a day for 2 more months until they are about 3 inches tall. This may take an additional 14 days.
Step 5 – Prune & Transplant your Squash Plant into a Larger Pot
Once your squash reaches about 3 inches tall you can remove the smaller of the two plants.
You can do this by taking scissors and snipping the smaller of the two plants right at the soil line. This will allow the healthier squash plant to grow to its full potential.
Next, you can transplant your squash plant to a 5 Gallon Nursery Pot.
Again, you will want to fill these pots about 80% full with your potting mix.
Next, you will want to make a hole approximately 3 inches deep (about the size of your squash plant at this point).
Then turn your existing small pot upside down, pinch the bottom of it, and then gently pull the soil and your plant out.
You will then place it in your 5-gallon pot and fill it with soil.
Immediately after you do this, spray the soil about 5 to 10 times.
You will then want to leave your squash in this pot until it is ready to transplant outside.
If you learn better by watching then you will want to check out the below video:
Step 6 – Introduce your Squash to Outside Weather
This next step is what most beginner gardeners miss, but is critical to your success.
For about two weeks, you will want to slowly introduce your Squash to outside.
On the first day, you will want to place your Squash (still in its pot) outside in direct sunlight for approximately 2 hours.
Each day thereafter, place the Squash outside for an additional hour until you build up to 6 straight hours.
Tip #3: Transplant Squash Outside
Once the last frost of the year has happened you can transplant your Squash outside. Never do it before because you risk your plant quickly dying.
Below, is a 2 step process for transplanting your Squash outside into your garden.
Step 1 – Do THIS if you will be keeping your Squash in its container all summer!
If you decide to keep your Squash in the pots then there is no need to transplant. You will only need to apply compost or Miracle-Gro Potting Mix
- Apply approximately 1/4 inch of potting mix to your planter
- As soon as you apply your fertilizer make sure to water the Squash for approximately 15 to 30 seconds
- Every week until harvest water your Squash twice a day and keep it in full sun to promote fruit growth.
- You may need to add a trellis to help support your plant so that the squash does not break off the vines.
Step 2 – Do THIS to Transplant your Squash into your Garden!
- Once you decide to transplant your squash, build a 4 to 6-inch mound that receives at least 8 hours of light.
- Keep plants 2 to 3 feet apart from each other
- Immediately after you transplant your squash outside
- Add Miracle-Gro Plant Food and water the soil for about 30 seconds.
- Finally, water your squash once a day for about 30 seconds. Continue doing this until you harvest your cucumbers mid-summer
- Related To: Best Garden Hoses
Tip #4 Effectively Care for your Squash THIS Way!
Below are caring tips for your Squash throughout the summer:
- Keep Your Soil Healthy – Quickly inspect your soil for fungus, harmful worms, and weeds before you plant and throughout the summer. Remove and replace it with new soil as needed.
- Mulch – Mulch around your plants with compost at the beginning of the year to prevent the possible spread of fungus.
- Water the soil, not the plants. By watering leaves, you increase the risk of spreading fungus and other diseases.
- Remove diseased and dead plants. This is the easiest way to prevent the spread of deadly diseases. If you notice yellow spots on leaves it means you may have blight fungus and will want to remove the leaves.
- Plant your squash at a new spot yearly. This is key to preventing seasonal diseases and insects from attacking the same plants year in and year out.
- Prevent Insects. The best way to prevent them is through an insecticide. If you don’t want spider mites, stinkbugs, or Japanese beetles ruining all your hard work I recommend purchasing Sevin Bug Killer.
Tip #5 Effectively Harvest Squash THIS Way!
Below are several tips to remember when harvesting squash:
- Harvest your squash 6 to 8 weeks after planting. The quicker you harvest your squash the more will grow.
- Leave your squash on the vine as long as possible. This will allow them to ripen the most effective way and retain their flavor.
- You will want to pick your squash when the whole vegetable is solid green and slightly firm. Firmly hold the vegetable as the stem with one hand and the stem with another. Twist the squash and gently pull away from the plant.
- If insects are eating your zucchini before they fully ripen it is okay to pick them when they are yellow or orange color and place on your windowsill.
Frequently Asked Questions (6 Questions)
1. What are the best ways to store squash?
Below, will give you several guidelines depending on the type of squash:
- You can store your squash fresh for two weeks on the counter if you keep the vegetable whole.
- After harvesting your squash you can keep them whole for 2 to 4 weeks in the refrigerator
- After cutting your squash you can keep it in the refrigerator for about a week if you add a little water to it.
- If you want your squash to last for a year then you will want to shred them and freeze them.
2. What are the Best Uses for Squash?
There are numerous uses for squash in food. Below, are some of the best ways to use squash:
- Stir Fry
- Squash Salad
- Chicken & Fish dishes
- Vegetable sandwiches
- Related: Best Squash Recipes
3. Should I Stake my Squash?
You should stake your squash if you live in an urban area where space is limited, if you want to try vertical gardening, or if you want to conserve space in your garden for other plants.
I recommend purchasing Dura-Trel Trellis.
This Trellis comes fully assembled, is incredibly durable, is large enough for even the largest of plants, and is beautiful enough that it can fit in any setting.
If you want to learn how to grow squash on a trellis then I recommend watching the below video:
4. What type of Squash Seeds should I Use?
There are four types of seeds that can be used to grow squash; heirloom, organic, hybrid, and GMO.
I recommend using Heirloom or Hybrid seeds. Gardeners do not have access to GMO seeds and organic seeds is a marketing term and not truly a type of seed.
- These seeds contain all the squash original traits and produce some of the most beautiful and best-tasting squash out there.
- The downside of this seed is that it is the costliest (due to its rarity).
- In addition, expect the least amount of yield from this type of seed due to susception of disease and other elements.
- Hybrid seeds were made from combining the genes of the same group of plants. This is not a bad thing.
- This type of seed is what most gardeners use when learning how to grow squash from seed.
- The goal with hybrids is to produce a plant that contains the best features of both parent plants.
- This seed is critical if you want the most resistant plant against mother nature’s elements, insects, and diseases or want the most yield!
5. What Type of Fertilizer Should I Use for My Squash?
The best type of fertilizer for squash is compost.
- Related: Ultimate Composting Guide: What to Compost
- Related: Yimby Tumbler Composter: 5 Reasons to Buy Today
And if you don’t have the time or ability to create compost then I recommend buying Miracle-Gro Plant Food for your squash.
- What I like about this product is that you only have to apply it once every 3 months and it contains natural ingredients and micronutrients that support root strength and plant development.
6. What Type of Soil Should I Use for My Squash Plants?
If you will be keeping your squash plants in containers all year then you will want a well-draining potting mix that provides the correct amount of nutrients like Miracle-Gro Potting Mix.
If you will be planting your squash into a garden then you will want to add a nutritious garden soil mix into the ground, such as Miracle-Gro Expand N Gro