Not a small number of people see gardening as a daunting task. Most lack the space they would like to have for a garden too.
For people who would like to grow what they want to eat or want to try growing vegetables for the first time, growing in a small container is a great way to go.
Growing squash in a pot is simple and easy; anyone can do it. It is also good to try if you want to avoid pests or other issues that may come up when growing vegetables outside.
Easy Steps to Grow Squash in a Pot
Listed below are tips and steps to follow to grow healthy squash in a pot
Choose a Variety that Suits the Space You Have
One of the first things to consider if you want to try planting in a pot is the variety of squash that would do well in a small space.
Bush squashes are better suited to growing in containers because they don’t produce side vines.
The other varieties, the Vining squashes, can also grow in a container, but they have lots of leaves and vines needing extra support and taking up more space than the other variety.
Some examples of bush squash are summer squash, acorn squash, butternut squash, tromboncino, and straight neck squash.
Use a Big Container
The size of the container is an essential factor in successful container gardening. Squashes grow fast and fill up a large container in no time.
Your container or pot size should be at least 24 inches in diameter and 12 inches deep to allow the roots to grow well. The bigger the container, the better your results.
Select a container that has drainage holes. If it does not, then drill a hole into the bottom. Drainage holes are significant for moisture control, and it helps to prevent rot and fungal infections.
Seeds or Transplants
After selecting your variety and setting up your container, choosing whether to start from the beginning with seeds or working with a transplant is the next step to consider. It all comes down to personal preference at the end of the day.
Both options have advantages and disadvantages, and it is better to view all of these before deciding.
If you decide on using a transplant, you can avoid whatever issues come with starting from the beginning and get a head start on the planting process. The major problem with this is the plant dislikes the transplant process.
Many of them go into shock, stifling their growth and increasing the time the plant needs to produce fruit. Another problem with transplanting is the lack of varieties in the nurseries.
If you choose seeds, you will have a more comprehensive selection of varieties. You will also be able to avoid shocking your plant, giving you a better sense of when you will start to harvest fruits.
The disadvantages of going with seeds include the extra time waiting for them to germinate and sprout and the fact that seeds are more vulnerable to birds, insects, and rot.
Creating an Ideal Soil Mix
The best type of soil to use is one that does not compress together easily, is water soluble, and is light.
Squash plants tend to thrive best in nutrient-rich, well-draining soil. Their roots need enough space to grow and branch.
It would be best if you began layering by spreading gravel at the bottom of the container, then covering it with a piece of wire mesh. This way, the soil is prevented from clogging the drainage holes.
The Planting Process
The planting process will depend on whether you choose to work with seeds or transplants. Because squash plants tend to grow to great sizes, it is advisable to let them have a container to themselves.
If you are working with seeds, plant two or three seeds one inch deep into the soil and several inches apart in the direct center of your container.
Be careful not to overcrowd the plants and keep the soil moist. After germination, be exceptionally watchful and remove the weaker plants.
If you are working with transplants, make sure that the base of the plant is watered before potting, then plant one seedling per pot.
Make sure to bury the root system entirely and make sure they can stand on their own. Water them daily to help with acclimation.
Temperature is a crucial factor in growing squashes. Squashes tend to prefer warmer temperatures.
The seeds need to be planted at a temperature of at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit. A cooler temperature will prevent the seed from germinating because squash seeds do not grow well in cold soil.
Even when mature, squash plants do not do well in cold temperatures, so try not to leave your plants in temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Squash plants tend to do well when they have excellent access to sunlight. The more sunlight they get, the better their growth.
Squash needs at least six hours of direct sunlight per day. It is advisable to place your container in a position with direct access to as much sunlight as possible.
Fertilizers and Manure
Squashes grown in containers need more food than those grown in regular gardens. They tend to draw their nutrients from the soil in the container.
As a result, you should enrich the soil with worm castings and well-decomposed compost or provide your squash with organic fertilizers every two weeks during the growing period.
Squash seeds should be provided with a good amount of water to be able to germinate, but they should not be overwatered.
When they start to grow, the plants should receive one inch of water every week.
It is essential to hydrate your plants often, especially during the budding and fruiting phases.
Water in the morning so the plant can hydrate before the sun gets too hot. Also, water the soil rather than the plant to reduce the risk of fungal infections.
Protection and Pest Prevention
Insects and animals are the best-known squash pests. If there is enough space in the container, you can plant a few marigolds and nasturtiums to keep pests at bay.
Powdery mildew is a fungus that affects the leaves. It is caused by high humidity and lack of circulation. Cut the affected leaves off the plant to prevent spread.
The harvesting period will be the most rewarding time of the year for you because squash plants tend to grow at a fast rate and produce abundantly.
The fruits should be harvested while they are still young and are at least 4 to 6 inches long for the best flavor. They tend to lose flavor as they age.
The flesh won’t be as tender if you wait too long to harvest. The squash should be cut from the plant delicately, with two inches of stem remaining on the plant’s end.
Squash is stored best in a dark place of about 59 degrees Fahrenheit in a cabinet, kitchen drawer, pantry, or even closet.
Implementing these tips will yield products of high quality and in large amounts, enough to eat and share with friends and family, and the best part? They can all be done from the comfort of your home.