Squash plants are native to the Andes and Mesoamerica. They come in a variety of species about five which includes the squash itself and pumpkin. There’s a lot of botany surrounding the squash plant and its history. But for simplicity, they are mostly famous for two varieties; the summer squash and the winter squash. The summer variety is usually large and less bushy. They come in diverse shapes and colors. Some of them include; the straight-neck, scallop, zucchini and the crooked-neck. The other variant is the winter squash which are majorly vine plants and can disperse all around the garden. They also come in their varieties (shapes and colors). Some of them include; Acorn, spaghetti, and Hubbard.
But our major concern here is how far apart to plant these squash plants so they don’t cross-breed. They are notorious for engaging in such practices and if you plant them too close to each other, their seeds will cross-pollinate to give you something different and almost alien. In order to prevent this from happening? Well, you have to continue reading to find out.
How Far Apart to Plant Squash
Let’s start with the planting process first and then narrow down to the question. When planting squash – any variety you choose, you do that with the seeds. These seeds can be sown directly into the soil of your garden or you can choose to grow them indoors. The summer and winter variants of squash are usually planted in hills. They are planted in shallow depths of about 1inch. Most summer squashes require about 50 frost-free days to mature, so you have to plant in the last week of spring. For winter squash, you know how winter can be extreme with everything, so you will need at least 60 frost-free days of maturity. Ideally, it is best advised to start summer and winter squash planting 3 to 4 weeks before the last frost. The bushy variety can begrown indoors in containers but the rest is best grown outdoors in the hills.
Now for the distance apart to avoid them copulating, rows and hills of summer squash should be planted at least 3 to 4 feet apart while winter squash should be set at least 4 to 5 feet apart and with 5 to 7 feet between rows, for hills about 3 feet apart would suffice.
Planting 2 seeds per hill are best even though you can actually start with 4 to 5 seeds per hill.
Things to Note when Planting Indoors
Most times, the squash planting can begin indoors pending when the last frost will leave and when the soil will become warm. This should be done within 3 to 4 weeks before the planting date.
You can start the seeds in a peat pot, however, you should be careful when transplanting so you don’t jeopardize the root system of the plant. On the number of seeds per pot, the outdoor amount is still valid here – 3 to 4 seeds per pot and you can limit them to just 2 later on.
Another important factor you should consider here is the hardening of the plant in its indoor environment prior to transplanting. This is to ensure they are strong for transplanting if they aren’t, then they might not recover from the shock of transplanting in time to adapt to a new environment. This could delay their growth and some might not even survive the transition.
If you are going to be saving the seeds of the same species, then you need to plant them 50 to 100 feet apart. Most gardeners usually think this is the only time when they need to plant them apart, which is why they end up with strange fruits and poor tastes. You need to plant squash seeds and separate them whether you are saving the seeds or not. They cross-pollinate at will and when its time for harvest, you are the one who’s going to be disappointed at what you’ve got for harvest.
Other Cultures to Imbibe when Growing the Squash Plant
Squash needs adequate moisture to thrive just like other plants, but this doesn’t mean you should saturate it with too much water. That could pose a threat to its livelihood.
A well-drained soil that is rich in humus is ideal for a squash plant. The bushy variants can, however, be grown indoors in containers. You need to prepare organic compost in pre-planting season or you can disperse the compost across the bed in the planting season.
This is a thumb rule. The seeds should be planted in a site where there are no shades to limit the amount of sunlight hitting the soil. The squash plant requires plenty of sunlight to grow. It also needs warm weather and pure air circulation to grow into maturity. If you find yourself in a growing season that is too short, you can make do with the bushy variants and start them indoors.
Squash are permitted to grow alongside celeriac, celery, melons, onions, peas, and a few others. They don’t cross-pollinate with these ones. You should avoid growing squash with potatoes.
Squash can beattacked by pests and insects. You should be wary of the following pest; beetles, squash bugs and squash vine borers. To avoid them, use rows to shield the infant plants from the attack of beetles and squash borers, you can remove the shields when the plants are mature enough to fight for themselves.
The squash plant is infamous for cross-pollination. This gives birth to unwanted fruits, most of which are not tasty. At the end of the day, it’s a bad harvest for you. This is why the topic is essential. Separate the same variety of squash from each other at least 4 feet apart to discouraged copulation. If you are saving the seeds, then this demands to space them even more. There are some methods you can use to save the seeds but that isn’t our focus here, separating the seeds during planting is and if you can follow what is detailed here, there will be no problems.