Squash covers a large group of vegetables characterised by their soft skin and moist flesh. Among the different types of squash you can consider raising in your vegetable garden are winter squash, butternut squash and zucchini. The culture required for all types of squash is the same. They can be planted in rows, but most gardeners prefer to plant squash in hills.
Dig a hole 12 to 18 inches deep with a diameter of 2 feet for growing squash in hills. Fill the bottom with 4 to 6 inches of compost or well-rotted manure. Shovel the excavated soil back into the hole to form a mound that is between 6 and 8 inches high. Space the hills 6 feet apart for bush varieties of squash and 10 inches apart for vine squash such as pumpkins.
Sow six seeds per hill, 1 inch deep. When the seedlings have grown to 6 inches in height, thin the crop until you are left with the two or three strongest plants at each hill.
Add 1/3 cup of 5-10-10 fertiliser if your soil is lacking in nutrients. Spread the fertiliser around each plant once it has grown a few leaves.
Water squash very slowly and make sure the water penetrates deeply during dry periods. Do not overwater during moist periods. Add a layer of mulch beneath the vines for protection against insects and rot.
Prune back the squash vines if there is any danger of the vines invading other plants or parts of your garden. Cut the ends of long runners if you notice small fruits on the vines.
Cut off the fruits of the squash with a sharp knife during your harvesting. Squash should be cut when they are still small and when you can still easily pierce the skin with your fingernail. Choose elongated squash that measure between 1 1/2 and 2 inches in diameter. Choose scallop squash when they measure about 4 inches across.
Cure your harvested squash in a warm room for 10 days, then move them to a cool dry place. Avoid freezing harvested squash.
Black plastic mulch can be effective in raising soil temperature, conserving moisture and reducing both weeds and pets. A solution of 1 tsp baking soda mixed with 1 qt. water and 1/4 tsp cooking oil can help reduce the spread of mildew. Only the female squash bears fruit following pollination so don't get worried if not all your squash plants produce fruit.