Row by Row Episode 4: Growing Squash in Your Vegetable Garden

The Best Squash Varieties

In this week’s episode, Greg and Travis discuss growing squash in the vegetable garden. The most frequently grown varieties are probably the standard yellow crookneck and the black beauty zucchini. The popularity of these varieties if simply a result of availability. But there are many other varieties that have better flavor and higher productivity. They provide examples of prolific and disease-resistant varieties that they have tested and proven over the years. Some of these newer varieties include Tempest, which is yellow and Green Machine, which is a productive, uniform green zucchini.

Summer vs. Winter Squash

They differentiate between growing techniques for summer and winter squash. While summer varieties are a repeat-harvest crop, winter varieties are a one-time harvest crop. Winter squash will also need to be planted several weeks later than summer squash. Winter squash does have the benefit of longer storage, as most varieties can be stored for up to six months. Greg’s favorite varieties include Delicata, which is an elongated squash that is very sweet and great for roasting. One of Travis’s favorite is the powdery-mildew resistant varieties of Acorn, such as TipTop PMR. For a spaghetti-type, they prefer the smaller varieties like Angel Hair that smaller, yet more prolific. They discuss some summer squash varieties that they have tried throughout the years such as Zephyr, Golden Dawn, Sunburst, and Eight balls. If you are just starting out gardening and want an easy crop to grow they recommend growing summer squash. However, they should be planted early on to avoid insecticide and fungicide pressures. The only pest that the guys have had problems with in the past is pickleworms. These pests will bore holes into your cucumbers, squash, winter squash, and sometimes summer squash. To handle this pickleworm problem it is important to use good rotation with natural controls like Neem Oil, B.t. or Spinosad.

Show and Tell Segment

In the show and tell segment, the guys talk about the bumper crop of potatoes that they had this year. Out of the 7 or 8 varieties that they trialed, the ones that performed the best were the Jelly and Blue Belle varieties from Irish Eyes Garden Seeds. Both of these varieties grew very large, uniform potatoes that exhibited excellent disease resistance. They plan on growing both varieties again next year and maybe eliminating the standard red potatoes from the rotation. Travis has two varieties of his last round of carrots that he has harvested. The tool of the week is our digging fork that has a foot pad for right-footed and left-footed individuals.

Viewer Questions Segment

In the question and answer segment, the guys explain corn pollination from the male flower (tassel) down to the female flower (silk). Every silk on an ear of corn represents a kernel so when all the silks get pollinated from the tassel you get a full ear of corn. In the South, we have plenty of wind and water so pollination is great for the silks. In other areas, some people take cane poles to brush over the tops of the tassel to get pollination. Greg explains that problems with germination begin with planting two or three long rows of corn. To get maximum production, germination, and pollination corn should be planted in square blocks. They also answer a question about controlling ants on the homestead using natural and conventional methods. Greg says the best organic control for ants is Spinosad. It is a bait formation so ants will have to eat it and then carry it back to the queen to kill the colony. Another organic control that is sugar based is Monterey Ant Control which contains spinosad and iron phosphate.

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